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Tips for choosing a counsellor

Questions About Counselling

How do I find the right counsellor?

  • It is very important that you see a counsellor that suits you
  • Ask yourself, would you prefer a woman or a man? A counsellor who is Maori or from your own ethnic group? Would you like to see someone older, younger, or about the same age as you?
  • It may also be important that you see someone with an understanding of your cultural, spiritual or religious values and beliefs
  • You may like to ask the counsellor about their training, qualifications, kaupapa, personal philosophy, styles of working and if they belong to a professional body. A counsellor who belongs to a professional body like NZAC (New Zealand Association of Counsellors) or NZAP (New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists) is accountable to that association, which has a Code of Ethics and a complaints procedure
  • Different counsellors have different styles of working, you can find out more about modalities from the Guide to Talking Therapies provided by Te Pou
  • You may need to shop around until you find a counsellor or therapist that you click with.

Will I be able to talk to a stranger about my issues?

  • They’re not involved in your life
  • They can assist you to make connections and see patterns in your relationships and behaviours
  • Your counsellor will see you in a safe environment and everything you say will be confidential
  • Your counsellor will take you seriously and be willing to openly discuss anything you’d like to talk about
  • If you're really unsure about counselling, but want to give it a go, try calling Lifeline Aotearoa. Lifeline volunteers are trained, well supervised and provide a confidential free service available 24 hours 7 days week - (0800) 543 354.

If I go to a counsellor or therapist, does it mean there’s something wrong with me?

No, it means you’d like someone unbiased to listen to your concerns, to assist you to develop a better understanding, and support you to move beyond them. There is nothing wrong with asking for assistance - it means you’ve recognised there’s something going on for you and you’re looking for ways to work through it. Many people get counselling for everyday issues like stress, self-esteem, relationships, parenting, employment matters and more.

Counsellor Fees

  • Private counselling can cost anywhere from a koha or donation to $200 per hour
  • Some practitioners have negotiable fees or charge on a scale according to income
  • Some community groups offer free counselling or will ask that you pay what you can afford
  • Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for subsidised counselling.

Does Low Cost mean Low Quality?

No. Many experienced counsellors choose to work privately or in community organisations which offer low cost or no cost options.

Before You Ring

  • Have a pen and paper handy to note the details
  • Jot down your first impressions, (eg: friendly, professional, unhelpful, reluctant)
  • The counsellor may not be available to speak to you the first time you ring so allow plenty of time to shop around!
  • Counsellors in private practice often use voicemail to handle calls while they're with clients. Practice what you'd like to say in case you need to leave a message
  • Remember, there may not be an appointment available for a week or two.

Where do I find a Counsellor?

  • Search for counsellor or counselling on
  • Family and friends are another good avenue for finding out about counsellors. Ask them what they liked about the person so that you can get a better sense and feel for who they are.
Published: 18 Mar 2014
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