What Happens in a Free Counselling Consultation?

Many therapists offer free, no-obligation consultations that you can take advantage of as you look for a therapist that meets your needs. What are some things you might expect during a consultation? Why might you book one?

A consultation is primarily a way to connect one-to-one with your potential therapist to get a sense for who they are and if they might be the right fit for you. Since the therapeutic relationship is an important part of successful therapy, the consultation can be a great way to see if this relationship could work for you and your goals in therapy. It is also an opportunity to ask any questions you might have about counselling and/or the therapist.

Here are some questions you might want to ask during a free consultation with a therapist:

  • What areas of concern do you specialize in?

  • Are there any mental health concerns that you don’t feel qualified to address?

  • What are your credentials and/or your formal title?*

  • What kind of training do you have as a therapist?

  • What therapy approaches do you use? (This may be important if you are looking for a specific kind of therapy, such as CBT or EMDR.)

  • How do you describe yourself as a therapist?

  • How do we decide what we work on or talk about?

  • How long might therapy take? How often will we meet?

*This is an important question to ask to ensure the therapist isn’t unqualified or underqualified to provide mental health counselling. For more information, see our blog post on counsellor credentials in Alberta – what they mean and why they matter.

After the consultation and before making a decision, you might ask yourself the following questions:

  • Did the therapist seem genuine?

  • Did it seem like they cared about my goals in therapy?

  • Did I feel heard, validated, and/or empowered?

  • Did I feel pressured to book a first session?

  • Did they share more personal details than seemed necessary?

  • How did I feel with them?

  • Does their approach suit my needs and personality?

  • Do they seem like they can help me with my particular concerns and goals?

As you ask yourself these questions, consider which answers matter the most to you, and use those responses to help you make a decision about whether or not you want to begin seeing the therapist. One of the best ways to make this kind of decision is to consider how you feel and trust your instincts, or “listen to your gut.”

Remember that you have no obligation to book a session with a therapist after a free consultation and that you can “shop around” for a therapist as well. You may want to meet with two or three counsellors before deciding which one you would like to work with. Although finding the right therapist may seem overwhelming, booking these free consultations can help you find the counsellor you can truly connect with!

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