Choosing the Right Career Counselor Means Asking the Right Questions
When in need of a plumber or electrician, most people will call at least a couple of providers and ask a few questions, such as: How much will it cost? How long have you been in business? What hours are you available? What forms of payment do you accept? And so on… Some people will even check with a consumer advocacy website, such as that provided by the Better Business Bureau, to see if any complaints have been filed against the business.
When seeking a physician or other medical specialist, almost everyone will ask other professionals, family members and friends for referrals. Even then, more often that not, people will consult two or more medical specialists to make sure they’ve gotten that all important “second opinion.”
Unfortunately, when seeking a career counselor, all too often it seems people simply call the first counselor they find and schedule an appointment. No verifying credentials… No checking for complaints… No checking for experience… No questions… Nothing to it!
However, a good career counselor will ask you numerous questions, and some of them will be of a personal nature. Some of these questions will be on forms the counselor requires you to complete prior to your first appointment. They will then ask other questions during your first session, and ask many more in the sessions to follow.
The relationship, trust and rapport developed between a client and a career counselor is likely to be one of the single greatest contributors to your success. In order for counseling to be successful, you will need to be open and honest about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences as it is this back-and-forth exchange that will allow your counselor to know how best to help you and guide the course of your work together.
The Importance of Interviewing Your Career Counselor
Now, I know when we’re struggling, we typically don’t think clearly. And, it can be difficult to know what to ask a prospective counselor during a first “interview.” But, your questions are important.
So, before calling one or more career counselors to schedule an appointment, take some time to think about the questions that matter most to you. For example:
- Do you want to work with a counselor who specializes in helping people with the issues you’re experiencing?
- Does the counselor’s cultural or professional background matter?
- Would you feel more comfortable working with a counselor of the same gender?
- How far are you willing to commute for counseling?
- What hours are you available to commit to counseling sessions?
Because rapport and trust can be so essential to effective career counseling, most counselors will do what they can to make sure their clients feel comfortable. Therefore, most counselors are open to being asked a variety of questions related to their education, professional training, qualifications and the techniques they employ.
That having been said, most counselors will not answer personal questions or provide clients their personal opinions in matters of politics, religion, etc.
There are many other questions to ask a prospective career counselor, some of the more important include:
- What age groups do you work with?
- How long is a typical session?
- How often do you think we’ll need to meet?
- How long do you expect counseling to last?
- What counseling approaches do you use to help clients?
- Is our work together confidential?
You don’t need to ask all of these before, or even during, your first appointment, but do ask them. This interview process does more than just provide you information. It will give you a sense of the counselor, how they communicate, and the likelihood you and the counselor can establish an effective working relationship.
Always remember, the career counselor is in business to help you. We’ve all met people we’d rather not do business with. Ask the right questions, and make sure your counselor isn’t one of them… After all, this is about your future success and happiness!
Betty Cohen, M.S., NCC, MCC
Serving San Francisco Bay Area, CA, and Phoenix Metro Area, AZ
Phone: (650) 868-5396