The Great Disconnect: Notes on Finding a Counselor

I try not to write in the depth of the wound and publicize it. I don’t think wounds should be smeared out for everyone else to play with, but scars are a different ball game. Scars are stories and I like stories. I think we all do. What becomes problematic, at least in regards to my own well being, are the stories I tell myself about myself. That’s where things can spiral quickly.

I told myself that since moving to Vancouver, I needed to find a counselor again. It’s difficult, I admit, when you’ve once had someone so good. Someone you shared your years with; someone who knew your story as it unfolded. But moving out here meant that I would have to find someone new.

To be honest, I was terrified of it. I did a wide enough search when I first got here a little over two years ago and found no luck. I realized quite quickly that it might not be as easy this time. That I might have to go to a few consultations before I found the right person. It was a strange experience, mostly because I lucked out my first try back when I was 17 and broken. I simply stepped into a room and found my person. The person who helped me through my grief for the next four years of my life.

After moving to Vancouver, I found myself walking into my first consultation with a new room, a new face, a new set of ears that listened to my story, and I was naively optimistic about how it might turn out. All I had to do was walk in and it would be right, right? That was, until I actually did step into a room that was all wrong. And then another. And another after that. And one more time – wrong, wrong, wrong.

Was it me? Was I just being too picky? Was it really supposed to be that hard to find the right counselor? The answer is, sometimes, yes. Nonetheless, I gave up defeated and managed on my own, up until two months ago when my depression crept back into my life.

This time though, I had a lot at stake. I admit that two years ago, when I lost my relationship, some friendships, and my sanity once again, I didn’t feel like it was enough for me to save. As much as I wanted to hold on to that life, I think part of me knew I needed to let it go so that I could have this one. So this time when I felt it again, in this relationship, in this new work environment, and with these friends that I have made, I realized that if I didn’t get the help, I could risk losing it all again – except now, I’d have a lot more to lose.

I started searching again and this time, I narrowed my search down. I went to about three more consultations before I found the person that I see now. I’ll tell you now that it was worth the wait.

I’m telling you all this because no one seems to discuss it anywhere: the difficulty in finding the right counselor. Getting yourself up to go get help can feel like a hard enough battle in the midst of your mental health struggle, but on top of that, it’s important that you find someone who fits you. Someone you feel comfortable talking to.

When I went to consultations this time, I realized my first round of emotional exhaustion came from relaying my story to every counselor I saw. Having to re-live those traumas over and over only to realize shortly after that I told them to the wrong person was not only draining, but it was a waste of my time. So I went in this time asking questions about my potential counselor. What was their story? Why did they get into this profession? What were their techniques? How were they going to help me? Though it is a professional you are going to see, you are trusting these people with your life AND giving them your time and money. So it is equally as important for you to trust them as it is for them to help you in the way that will actually benefit your life.

Coming from someone who has felt discouraged from the countless ‘no’s’ that I myself had to administer, it was worth it in the end to sit across someone who I felt was the right fit.