Did you know that anyone in B.C. can call themselves a “counsellor” or a “therapist”? If you are looking for a counsellor to help you or your children get through a separation, consider these top 5 suggestions:
1. FIGURE OUT WHAT KIND OF COUNSELLOR YOUR FAMILY NEEDS
There are a variety of potential roles that a counsellor may fulfill for parents or children. Each of these different roles requires special training, and may be either agreed to by the parents, or court ordered. A counsellor must be a neutral professional- especially when a family separation is involved.
In some cases, counselling can avert a trial. However, in the event that a divorce case goes to trial, a child’s counsellor may be asked to give evidence. Therefore, it is essential to find a counsellor who has adequate qualifications and experience.
Counsellor for the Children: Provides psychological counselling for the children. This includes some feedback with the parents, but the focus is primarily on the child.
Counsellor for the Parent(s): Provides psychological counselling for the parent(s). This counseling can include treatment for mental health conditions (e.g. anxiety, depression) triggered by, or aggravated by, the separation.
Custody and Access Report Provider: Interviews and assesses the children and parents, and gives the court feedback about the wishes and capabilities of all family members. Makes specific recommendations for parenting arrangements. This assessment should be done by a qualified Psychologist. Therefore, it is more time consuming and costly than a Views of the Child Report.
Divorce Coach: Provides psychological support to a parent. This service can include strategies for improving communication with ex-spouses, setting new goals, working through family law negotiations, and improving co-parenting relationships. This service often includes collaboration with lawyers and financial specialists, and can reduce conflict and cost incurred by a separation.
Views of the Child Report Provider: Interviews the children and gives the parents, and potentially the court, feedback about the child’s wishes with regards to parenting plans (school, location, parenting schedule, holidays etc.).
Visitation Supervisor: Provides supervision of a child with a non-custodial parent, often in high-conflict files or high-risk situations.
2. MAKE SURE THE COUNSELLOR HAS AT LEAST A MASTER’S DEGREE
The counsellor’s degree should be from a reputable University, and in a relevant field such as Clinical Psychology, Counselling Psychology, or Social Work. The counsellor should have specific training in separation/divorce, and child development.
3. VERIFY THE COUNSELLOR IS REGISTERED
Registered, or “certified” counselors must meet a minimum standard of training and experience. They are required to have insurance, and abide by ethical standards. There is also a built in complaints process. In B.C., the four main governing bodies are the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association, the B.C. Association of Clinical Counselors, the B.C. College of Psychologists and the B.C. College of Social Workers.
4. INTERVIEW SEVERAL COUNSELLORS BY PHONE
This gives you an opportunity to see if the counselor has the qualifications you need, if they are available to take your case, and if you would feel comfortable talking with them about the intimate details of your life.
5. DISCUSS COST
There may be free or low cost counselling available through government funded services and non-profit organizations. However, you might not meet their criteria for service. Some agencies will not provide counselling if there is a separation involved, for fear they may be called as a witness.
Even if you are deemed appropriate for their service, these programs tend to have long waitlists, a limited number of sessions, and do not give you a choice of counsellors.
Check your extended health benefits. Many employer funded health plans include coverage for the services of a Registered Clinical Counsellor or Psychologist.
Jayne Embree M.A.
Divorce Coach and Child Specialist
Jayne holds a Masters in Psychology and is a highly experienced Divorce Coach and Child Specialist. Currently on sabbatical, Jayne is conducting research in the area of family dynamics and parental conflict.
Areas of Practice: Family law including separation, divorce, mediation, arbitration, child & spousal support, support variations, guardianship, parenting time, access, property division and more. Victoria BC