“How do I know when to seek counselling?”

In general, we may recognize a need for counselling when one or more aspects of our lives seem to be taking over our day-to-day functioning and overwhelming our coping mechanisms. These may include emotional distress, challenges in relationships, loss and bereavement, substance abuse, and/or trauma, violence or abuse. Counselling can provide support to individuals and lead to personal growth in working past these challenges.

On the Sunshine Coast, some counselling is available from publicly funded services, for example:

• Sunshine Coast Mental Health and Addiction Services (SCMHA)—(604) 885-6101

• Sunshine Coast Community Services Society (SCCSS)(604) 885-5881

• Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD)—(604) 740-8900

To access publicly funded services, a doctor referral is not necessary. You may contact the organization directly and refer yourself but by all means talk to your doctor if you wish advice. In an immediate crisis, call 911 or go to Emergency at your local hospital.

Publicly funded counselling services tend to be oriented towards helping you get through an immediate crisis. When the immediate crisis is over, counselling is ended, usually within six to eight sessions. If another crisis occurs, you can always refer again.

Advantages of accessing publicly funded counselling services include little or no fee for services and referrals to other services. Disadvantages include potential wait times; little or no choice of counsellor; limited access to services; and, appointments available only during regular business hours.

Attending groups can also be helpful. Compared with individual counselling, groups typically offer no or lower fees for participating and can be easier to access. You can benefit from shared experiences and peer support. Some available groups on the Sunshine Coast include Wellness Drop-in Group, SMART Recovery (smartrecovery.org), and Meditation-based Stress Reduction (MBSR), all offered through Sechelt Hospital’s Mental Health department. Sunshine Coast Hospice offers grief counseling (604.740.0475 for more info). Alcoholics Anonymous has a 24-hour helpline (604.434.3933) and Al-Anon Family Groups operate in Sechelt (604.885.0101) and Gibsons (604.886.9059).

The BC Association of Clinical Counsellors (BCACC) publishes guidelines for choosing a clinical counsellor on their Web site at bc-counsellors.org.  Working with a clinical counsellor privately can present you with a greater opportunity to focus on underlying concerns or themes, as a measure of preventative care.

OliverSterczyk is a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) and Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC) practicing privately in Gibsons and publishes an informative blog at oliversterczyk.com. He can be contacted at (604) 993-0080 or oliver@oliversterczyk.com

By Oliver Sterczyk, B. Ed., MC, RCC, CCC

Photo: Tumisu