Not all counsellors are good counsellors. Some should be avoided as they’re clearly unskilled and don’t offer clients the service they deserve. So what are the warning signs to pay attention to; what should notice and view as a red flag?
1. The counsellor is attempting to work outside their area of training and expertise.
2. The counsellor has their own agenda – instead of working on your personal goals.
3. The counsellor fails to offer you a contract for service, information on your rights as a client, and information on their ethical policies.
4. The counsellor is judgmental or criticises your attitudes, choices, decisions or lifestyle.
5. The counsellor is harsh or confrontational (instead of being accepting, understanding and empathic).
6. The counsellor fails to listen carefully, or to give you their full attention in the session. (For example, they allow interruptions, or they seem distracted and miss important details you have shared).
7. The counsellor forgets your name and doesn’t remember information you shared at a previous counselling session.
8. The counsellor adopts a one-up position, and treats you as inferior or uninformed. (This can include using psychobabble.)
9. The counsellor acts as if they have all the answers and tells you what to do, or offers you advice.
10. The counsellor either talks too much, or not at all.
11. The counsellor reacts or gets defensive when you offer feedback or voice dissatisfaction.
12. The counsellor knowingly, or unknowingly, is getting their needs met at your expense. (For example, they may talk excessively about themselves, or similar problems they’ve had, or are having.)
13. The counsellor seems overwhelmed by your problems.
14. The counsellor seems uncomfortable with displays of emotion. They seem more at ease with facts than feelings.
15. The counsellor is uninterested in your culture or spirituality.
16. The counsellor tries to push their culture and spiritual beliefs on you.
17. The counsellor flirts with you, or is interested in developing a romantic or sexual relationship with you.
18. The counsellor discloses personal information about you without your written consent. Alternatively, he or she shares personal information about his or her other clients.
19. The counsellor is late for, cancels or forgets appointments.
20. The counsellor has unresolved complaints with their licensing board.