Counselling in Calgary
Blog entry by Dan McMillan, M.Ed, R.Psych
Beginning counseling in Calgary can be a daunting and confusing process. I have been a therapist for 19 years, and I still find it surprisingly difficult when it comes time to choose a new therapist for myself personally. I, and likely you, are trying to find the right blend between personality, approach, and areas of expertise. Yet to do so, you end up having to scroll through dozens of profiles and websites, only to be left with your top pick, which you then find out isn’t accepting new clients, works halfway across Calgary, or doesn’t have the availability you need for your own schedule. While I don’t have solutions to all these problems, I do have an outline of the process to best set you up for success when choosing a therapist for counseling in Calgary, Alberta. You can likely extrapolate these suggestions to finding a counselor in other areas of Alberta, Canada, or beyond, not just Calgary.
Step 1: Ask your friends
You’ve decided it’s time to pursue counseling. Congratulations; this is a huge step. Now, step 1, ask your friends and family if they can recommend anyone. This will help you skip forward in the below process, but it will also help start good conversations, normalize mental health and counseling in Calgary, and likely let people in on the struggles you may be facing at this time.
Step 2: Open up the search engines
While there are a multitude of search databases specific to counseling, I have found that most of them are not very useful. From the back end, as a therapist, most are not worth participating in or upkeeping, so the majority of counselors do not post on them. The two search databases or engines to use, in my opinion, are: a) Psych Today and b) Google. (Neither provided any incentive to be listed here).
- Psychology Today: Psych Today is a database of counselors in each city, including Calgary. Therapists pay to be on it, and as it is widely used, most private counselors, therapists, and psychologists are on it, including for the Calgary area. You can search by various factors, including approach and areas of specialty. Once you have selected some candidates, you should be able to visit their websites from there and get a better sense of the therapist.
- Google: We are all familiar with Google, so I won’t go into detail here. Therapists and counseling in Calgary can be found on Google with a simple search of various terms, including “Calgary counseling” or “Psychologists Calgary.” As with all Google pages, the first few ads are paid for, and then it is organically driven. I encourage people to search past the first page, though understand that this can be time-consuming.
Step 3: Pick your top few choices and request a free phone consult
Hopefully, by now, you have found a few good options you feel comfortable with. I encourage you now to try them out. By this, I mean email or call and request a 15-minute free phone consultation to get a better sense if they may be a fit for you. If you feel your issue is more complicated than what this offers, you can also book an initial paid session to do so.
Step 4: Book and go
You’ve done your homework as best as possible, but like most things, you have to experience it to really understand if it’s for you. Book an initial appointment and see if it’s helpful. I believe therapy should be helpful from the initial appointment onwards. If not, then consider your second choice of therapists. Yes, while this can be time-consuming and a bit costly to begin, it is important that you feel positive about the counseling from the beginning. It should feel useful and supportive to you. If not, then you may have to pivot until it does. That said, I do encourage you to voice any issues with your therapist to give them a chance to make adjustments when possible.
So, that’s basically it. Unfortunately, there is no simpler system as of yet for counseling here in Calgary or in most places that I am aware of. While this may seem a bit daunting or confusing to start, I do encourage you to continue forward as finding a good therapist-client relationship can be extremely rewarding.
Daniel is a registered psychologist working out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He counsels individuals and couples in the areas of mental health, relationship, trauma, and men’s mental health issues.