Do you need counselling for relationship issues, stress or a break-up?
Or would you like to find an English speaking coach to improve life generally?
Here are ten important questions to ask your prospective counsellor or therapist. I’ve provided my own answers to give you a sense of where I fit according to these criteria:
1. How long was your therapy training?
My therapy training commenced when I started training as a counsellor in 1989 and it has not stopped since! Over the last 20+ years I have undertaken Bachelors and Masters degrees in Social Work, specialist narrative psychotherapy training through the Dulwich Centre in Adelaide, Australia and completed many short courses and workshops in a range of therapeutic approaches. These include CBT (cognitive behaviour therapy), mindfulness, psycho-education (including motivational interviewing), stress management, relaxation strategies, problem solving, anger management, therapy for adult survivors of child abuse and couples counselling.
A good therapist does not stop his or her education simply when a qualification is achieved. Professional development must be ongoing. Each year I attend a number of training activities and conferences and regularly share the outcomes of these with my clients.
2. Under which title, coach, counsellor or psychotherapist would you be allowed to work in your own country?
In both Australia and England, I am allowed to use all 3 of these titles: coach, counsellor and psychotherapist. In Sweden the title ‘psychotherapist’ (or psykoterapeut in Swedish) is a protected title and only practitioners licensed by the Swedish National Health and Welfare Authority – Socialstyrelsen – can use that title. I have not applied to be licensed as a psychotherapist in Sweden and instead refer to myself as a samtalsterapeut (counsellor) or narrative therapist in my work. Psychotherapist training in Sweden is limited to certain methods or approaches and applicants for a Swedish license must demonstrate compliance with particularly Swedish requirements. I have found that most of the people who meet with me are far more interested in the benefits of a therapist who speaks their language and understands their culture than they are in meeting with someone who fits precise Swedish requirements or works through the Swedish healthcare system.
3. How often do you have supervision?
I generally attend supervision at least twice a month and my commitment to supervision meets the recommendations of the AASW and BACP. Supervision for counsellors and therapists is not the same as supervision in a management situation. It means something completely different. It is about discussing professional issues in a structured way and ensuring the practitioner is taking care of their own well-being. It helps counsellors, psychotherapists, psychologists and social workers ensure their integrity and ethical practice. Counsellors and therapists in private practice will generally be paying for private supervision from a more or equally experienced person. I have such an arrangement with a more experienced practitioner and also engage in regular peer supervision with colleagues.
4. How long have you been practising?
I began practicing as a counsellor in 1989 and have worked across the community, government and private sectors over the years. Since 2005 I have been specialising in mental health counselling and therapy. I commenced private practice as a therapist and mental health counsellor in 2008.
5. What is your theoretical approach?
My practice is informed by a range of theoretical approaches. When undertaking advanced therapeutic work with people, it tends not to be helpful to be limited to a singular technique or method. In Sweden, counselling and therapy is dominated by Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT or KBT) and Psychoanalysis but there are many other ways of working together if these do not appeal to you. I am particularly drawn to dialogical and narrative practices and the work of a number of well-known therapists including Harlene Anderson, Johnella Bird, Art Fisher, David Epston, Michael White. If you would like more information about these approaches, I would be happy to send you some links if you email me for details.
6. Do you offer a 50 or a 60 minute hour?
My standard appointments are 60 minutes but longer appointments (75 minutes or longer) can easily be negotiated. I generally leave at least 15 minutes between appointments and, if I have more time available, I usually don’t mind if we continue a little longer if it is helpful to you.
7. What do the initials behind your name actually mean?
Currently the initials after my name are: BSocWk, MA, MAASW (acc.). They stand for Bachelor of Social Work, Master of Arts and Member of the Australian Association of Social Workers (accredited).
8. Are you an accredited member of a professional organisation?
Yes, as above, I am an accreditated member of the AASW in Australia. This accreditation means I have a qualification awarded by a professional association as a specialist mental health practitioner and can offer focussed psychological services under the Australian government Medicare program when I am meeting with clients in Australia (similar to the services provided by psychologists that are reimbursed by the government there). The AASW supports my practice in Europe and represents my professional interests, however unfortunately Medicare will not reimburse appointment fees unless we meet in Australia.
9. Do you have insurance?
Yes, I hold both professional indemnity and public liability insurance.
10. Are you registered for tax in Sweden?
Yes, I am fully registered with Skatteverket, the Swedish tax authority and required to invoice moms (consumption tax) on my services in Sweden. If you require your invoice made out to a particular company name, please advise me in advance.
Extra question: How old are you?
Some people want to know how old I am and I am quite open about my age. I was born in 1969 so at the time of writing this, I am 43 years old.