Social Worker, Psychologist, Counsellor: Who Should I be Seeing?

There are often many different routes we can take to arrive at the same destination. Same goes for the counselling profession. There are different degrees and registering body’s counsellors can be connected with to ultimately be doing the same job: counselling. This can be extremely confusing for potential clients trying to figure out how a social worker might be different from a psychologist or a Canadian Certified Counsellor.
To start with, make sure anyone you are considering seeing for therapy is registered with some sort of organization. This holds the counsellor accountable and should you have any concerns about the service you are able to contact the registering body for support. Therapists who are registered are also required to participate in additional training each year which helps ensure they are up to date on the latest theories and interventions. I would also suggest that you take a look at your potential counsellor’s education level. Most therapists will have at least a master’s degree, but I have seen a few counsellors practice with a bachelor’s degree. You have to decide what level of education you are comfortable with.
How you choose your therapist might also be influenced by whether or not you have insurance. Companies like Blue Cross or Great West Life usually allocate a dollar amount each year that clients can use for counselling services. Often insurance companies require therapists to have certain qualifications. This is the best place to start if you are thinking about seeing someone.
So what is the difference between a social worker, psychologist and certified counsellor? Short answer is not a lot when it comes to counselling. If you are looking to be assessed and possibly diagnosed, you would have to see someone who is qualified to diagnose. At this time you would be looking to see a psychologist who works in assessments or possibly a psychiatrist. When it comes to therapy, each therapist regardless of education is going to understand the problem and intervene from a different theoretical framework. Different therapists will also have different areas that they practice or specialize in. If you are dealing with anxiousness and looking for coping strategies, it wouldn’t be in your best interests to see a counsellor who primarily focuses on couples counselling.
At the end of the day, finding the right person for you is largely going to come down to personal preference. Not every counsellor is a fit for every client so if the first counsellor you see is not a match, try again. Finding a good therapist is like finding a good pair of shoes: you might have to try on a few different pairs, but when you have the right fit you will just know.


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