What is Counselling?
Counselling is a collaborative process with a trained professional to safely and confidentially explore areas of concern or challenges and work towards identified goals. Talk therapy with a counsellor can help deal with a broad range of situations, emotions and stressors. It can provide the opportunity to reassess goals, gain clarity, and develop skills to process experiences, develop self-acceptance, improve relationships and experience a more fulfilling life.
The Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (2021) defines counselling as “a relational process based upon the ethical use of specific professional competencies to facilitate human change”. With the support and expertise of a skilled and knowledgeable counsellor, individuals can begin to feel empowered in their mental health, personal growth, relationships, career development, and psychological wellbeing.
With the support of a caring professional therapist, counselling can provide the opportunity to feel empowered to more deeply understand emotions and experiences, improve communication skills, deepen self-knowledge, experience self-acceptance, and develop personal resources.
Counselling services can take many forms depending on one’s needs. Most counselling appointments are scheduled, weekly 50-minute sessions where the therapist provides a comfortable and confidential space for discussion. It is an opportunity to share thoughts, emotions, experiences, and perspectives without judgement.
Benefits of therapy rely on open and honest communication between the counsellor and client. It is difficult for many to be vulnerable, to share details of personal experiences, and to explore deeper parts of themselves with another person. This can be easier if the relationship with the counsellor feels safe to take risks to discuss sensitive topics. Therapists are bound by ethical codes of conduct to protect clients’ confidentiality. Counsellors will be impartial and curious to help build a trusting relationship, and will welcome honest feedback about the collaborative work.
For those who have experienced trauma, counselling that relies solely on talk therapy is rarely sufficient. Treatments that access the nervous system through the body or brain without relying on dialogue produce better results in resolving trauma. Most counselling therapists today have been trained to use treatments specifically designed for trauma resolution.
Therapists draw from a variety of models or theories, depending on client goals. For example, a therapist may use an Internal Family Systems approach or EMDR to help someone who has been traumatized. Or for someone who is anxious or depressed, a therapist may use cognitive behavioural therapy to help challenge underlying assumptions and beliefs that are resulting in distress. Regardless of the chosen therapeutic model or treatment plan, all of our therapists are trauma-informed and work from a frame of non-judgement and acceptance.
Various Modes of Counselling Services
Today, counselling is available in many forms. Increased accessibility means individuals can choose methods of counselling that feel most suitable and comfortable to their situation. The most common form of therapy is in-person counselling which we provide from our offices in Cloverdale, however we also offer online and telephone therapy for those in remote places or who have difficulty getting to the office. These sessions can be for individual, family therapy, or couples counselling. There are also group counselling options available.
Seeing a counsellor one-on-one in the office is the most common form of therapy. Finding a well-educated therapist is important and many find it easier to talk when the office environment feels comfortable and safe. The office is a contained space where the discussion will not be interrupted or overheard. One-on-one discussions with a therapist are focused opportunities to delve deep into the aspects of life one would like to change, explore painful emotions, and do the deep personal work of therapy. Personal issues sometimes involve romantic partners or family members, in which case couples counselling or family therapy may be a more suitable form of treatment.
When the goal is to improve the quality of a romantic relationship or life-partnership, couples therapy is an option. This gives opportunity for both partners to describe their experience of the relationship to an impartial third-party who can assist in uncovering underlying issues and help improve communication. The couples therapist helps partners diffuse negative interaction cycles, discover unmet needs, and begin working as a team to fulfill these needs. Counsellors with a Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (MA-MFT) or who are Registered Marriage and Family Therapists (RMFTs) have specialized training in helping couples work through relationship issues.
Negative interaction cycles are also experienced with parents or children, in which case it may be helpful to initiate family therapy. This is when one or more family members are brought in to see whether underlying issues can be discovered and talked through. Again, it can be helpful to have an unrelated third-party who is trained to assess the family system for sources of the problem and help family members work as teammates to find solutions.
Online and Telephone Counselling
With the stigma surrounding mental health, busy schedules, and other barriers to in-person sessions, telephone and online counselling have become popular options for people to continue receiving therapy sessions. Telephone and online counselling are becoming more common in the post-pandemic world, and provide the same quality, safety, and security as counselling done in-person. Remote therapy can provide some individuals with an increased sense of comfort and security because they can meet with their therapist from the privacy of their own home. For those who are home-bound or who live in rural ares, online therapy may be the only vehicle for counselling. With today’s technology, telephone and online counselling can provide discreet and convenient opportunities for individuals to work collaboratively with a counselling professional.
Regardless of the form of communication chosen for counselling, whether telephone, online, or in-person, a counsellor will communicate knowledgeably and empathically, to best serve the needs of a client. A therapeutic alliance between counsellor and client requires open communication and not necessarily a specific setting.
Choosing a Therapist
In searching for counselling options, the number of therapists and counselling websites to choose from can feel overwhelming. While all Registered Clinical Counsellors (RCCs) will have sufficient training to work with a wide variety of issues, some have particular training and experience in areas such as grief counselling, marriage counselling, depression therapy, anxiety treatment, trauma therapy, PTSD, addictions, etc. Well-educated counsellors are trained in researched treatment modalities that have been shown to be effective for the particular problem or goal. Many counselling clinic and professional association websites offer brief biographies on each service provider. Reading through counsellors’ profiles may provide a sense for which therapist is the best fit.
Qualified counsellors have at minimum a Master’s degree in a counselling-related field, and are members of a regulating body or association. This ensures your therapist ascribes and is accountable to ethical principles of the profession. Look for designations such as Registered Clinical Counsellor, Registered Marriage and Family Therapist, Registered Social Worker, and Registered Psychologist. Such therapists are members of the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors, the Canadian Counselling Association, the Canadian Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, the Canadian Association of Social Workers, or the Canadian Psychological Association. Members of these associations are trained to assess and treat mental health conditions, some specializing in individual, group, couple, or family counselling.
Accessing a counsellor in BC does not require a doctor's referral. Appointments may be made with a counsellor or mental health clinic directly by phone, email, or online scheduling. Most therapists do not allow walk-ins or emergency appointments, however clinics with multiple practitioners may have an opening with a therapist on the day contact is made.
All counsellors at Sojourn Counselling and Neurofeedback have at minimum a Master's degree in a counselling-related field. Our therapist's bios are available on our Staff Page and Online Booking site. Appointments can be made with us by viewing our counsellors' schedules online and choosing amoung the available times without having to confirm with our office staff. Providing online booking is just one of the ways we endeavor to remove barriers that prevent people from getting mental health services.
How Much Does Counselling Cost?
Counsellor rates in BC vary according to level of education, experience, and type of session (individual counselling, couples counselling, or family therapy). The suggested range established by the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors in 2020 is $120-175 before tax. Our therapists bill at a variety of rates ranging from $45 to $145 per 50-minute session, depending on education and experience, whether the clinician is a student intern, Associate (having obtained a Masters degree and awaiting registration), a Registered Clinical Counsellor, or Registered Marriage and Family Therapist (RMFT).
If you or a family member has third-party medical insurance, you may have coverage for your counselling sessions. While BC Medical Services Plan (BC MSP) does not yet cover counselling, many companies offer employee benefits that include subsidies for therapy. Check with your policy or insurance company to determine whether they offer coverage for Registered Clinical Counsellors or Registered Marriage and Family Therapists.
Therapists recognize that one of the most important ingredients for effective counselling is the sense of feeling connected to and accepted by the counsellor. Trust in a competent and caring therapist is necessary to feel safe enough to be vulnerable and share personal experiences. We believe that trust must be earned and do not expect people to open up to their therapist immediately. We respect and value the courage to be vulnerable and want to support all our clients by ensuring a secure and confidential means of counselling. Our team of professional, experienced therapists can help you identify and work towards your goals while supporting you through challenges such as depression, stress, anxiety, trauma, grief, and relationship problems.
Our suite of offices in Surrey/Cloverdale has been specifically designed for counselling therapy and built from the ground up to provide a comfortable, confidential, soothing, and safe environment. We continue to offer telephone and online counselling for those unable to come into the office or for those who prefer the convenience of remote counselling.
Book your first session with us today!