What is counselling?

Counsellors are professionally trained and highly qualified; they hold a set of specialised knowledge, skills and understandings that enable them to offer clients a unique, individualised experience.

Professional counsellors are committed to enabling clients to find practitioners who best suit their unique personality, culture, identity, circumstances and needs.

At the heart of counselling is the quality of the relationship between the counsellor and client. This is underpinned by deep respect and non-judgemental acceptance of each client.

Counselling may involve working with individuals, couples, family/whānau and groups, and can take place face-to-face, or via telephone or online platforms.

Counsellors continually update their professional knowledge and skills, and they seek to ensure that all aspects of their work are effective.

Counsellors work according to ethical values and principles (NZAC Code of Ethics) that protect clients’ privacy and safety.

NZAC is committed to clients receiving safe, effective counselling and operates a robust complaints process.

The benefits of choosing an NZAC Counsellor

Choosing a counsellor who is an NZAC member provides assurance that they meet the ethical and professional standards you would expect when seeking help.

All NZAC members are academically and professionally trained.

Since 2019 all NZAC counsellors have been required to have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree or overseas equivalent and many hold post-graduate qualifications in counselling.

To obtain full membership with the Association, counsellors go through an intensive process which takes most practitioners two years or more after completing tertiary qualifications.

All NZAC members are required to be accountable to a more experienced, senior practitioner on a regular and on-going basis to ensure the quality and effectiveness of their counselling practice.

All members are required to complete and be accountable for ongoing professional development.

Practical steps you might take

  • Many people find a counsellor via a personal recommendation from their GP or other health professionals, from their workplace with an EAP service, through a community agency, or a friend.
  • Go to the NZAC directory of counsellors and search for practitioners by: location, gender, culture, expertise, specialities and qualifications.
  • While not all counsellors have websites, these can be an additional, useful source of information about a practitioner.
  • Contact the counsellor to check out their availability, and to get a sense of them and how they seem to you. Do they sound like a potential “right fit” for you and your needs? Counsellors are happy to talk with inquirers and answer questions.
  • Treat the initial appointment as an opportunity to make sure that the counsellor is someone you think you can work with and talk openly with about your issues. If it is helpful for you, take a list of questions you feel need answering before you engage with the counsellor. There is no need to feel embarrassed about asking a counsellor any question when the information you are seeking is important to you.
  • It is not offensive tell a counsellor after an initial session that they are not quite the “right fit” for you.

Finding the right person that you feel comfortable with is very important and can sometimes take time.