Why We Won’t Ask You for a Google Review (Hint: your privacy matters!)

At East Vancouver Counselling, we won’t ask you for a Google review. 

We get it. You’re looking for a new counsellor, you do an online search, and lots of options pop up. How do you pick one? Well, we suggest that you don’t base your decision on how many 5-star google reviews the counselling practice has, and here’s why:

  • Counselling Ethics Prioritize Client Wellbeing Over the Business’s Success:  Yes, having a lot of 5 star Google reviews makes it seem that this business is a great company where a lot of people have been happy with the service.  However, the business of therapy is a bit different from other businesses. On an ethical level, your rights to privacy are more important than our business’s promotional activities. It’s just a reality that those of us in private practice respect – your confidentiality is a priority and that shouldn’t be compromised for the sake of our business.
  • Misguided Trust:  It’s tempting to see lots of great ‘5 star’ google reviews as an indication that someone is really good at what they do, but it doesn’t always mean that it would be great for you, or that the reviews can be relied on as representing other clients’ perspectives. We suggest looking at other factors to try to see if the counsellor you’re interested in is a good choice, like how long their business has been running, and how well-established it is in the community.  If you’re comfortable doing so, ask around for recommendations. We suggest looking for a practice where the therapists have a consistently high standard with minimum master’s level practitioners (or supervised master’s level Interns) and are registered at the provincial or national level. Being registered means that the therapists have applied for and met a strict criteria for practice, including a supervised practicum and graduate training.  
  • Be Informed, and Reach Out Before Committing: Yes, it feels like bit of a risk to meet a new therapist. While it can seem reassuring to think that others liked working with a practitioner, we urge you to meet more than one therapist and decide for yourself who seems like a good choice for you.  Most therapists will offer you a chance to meet them for a quick chat before your first full session, and it’s ok to meet a few counsellors before you decide who feels like the best option for you.
  • Individual Needs and Experiences: Every person has unique needs, associations, and experiences. Good fit between the client and counsellor is critically important to the success of the counselling relationship! What works in counselling for one person may not work the same way for another. You may prefer a chattier, conversational practitioner, or one who is really great at listening and gives you lots of time to reflect. Some counsellors will give you exercises and homework, others will not.  Google and other reviews speak to one person’s experience, but clients’ experiences are highly subjective and personal, and are based on what worked for that person. By refraining from seeking reviews, counsellors acknowledge the individuality of each therapeutic journey and focus on providing customized support and guidance based on the client’s needs.
  • Confidentiality:  Once again, confidentiality comes first. It’s an important part of our code of ethics that counsellors prioritize your confidentiality. Your therapist will review limits of confidentiality with you when you start working together; public reviews are not a reason to lift confidentiality.  When you write a review, you risk letting people know that you are in therapy, which really is your private business. If you decide you’re comfortable with sharing that information, then it’s your decision to do so, but at EVC, we won’t ask you to reveal that information. 
  • Healthy Communication About Difficult Feelings is What We Do: Everyone has a right to express their feelings and views. If you were super happy about something someone did, or if something didn’t work, or if there was a misunderstanding, we want to hear about it. We encourage you to contact us directly if you have something to say that could help us to improve our services. Due to our professional boundaries and ethics, we can’t get into any details of your situation online and in public anyway, so we encourage you to just send us a note directly. As our counsellors are all self-employed private practitioners at EVC, you can contact them directly, or send a note to our central admin, we’ll forward it to the person you want to connect with.
  • Vulnerability and Influence: Counselling can be a vulnerable process that is based on openness, trust, and a personal relationship. If a therapist asks you to say something nice about them, you may feel obliged or influenced to do so, even if you feel uncomfortable about it.  You shouldn’t have to feel like you need to please your therapist.  Therapy is about you and your needs, not about your therapist’s professional success.

While Google and other reviews have become an essential aspect of online businesses, the counselling profession operates on different, more predominant principles that should prioritize ethics over business success. Counsellors’ decisions not to solicit Google reviews is rooted in a commitment to confidentiality, privacy, and the individual needs of their clients. By maintaining these principles, we create a safe and trusted space where our clients can explore thoughts and emotions, and foster an environment conducive to growth and healing, without feeling the need to report about their experience publicly. Ultimately, the power of the therapeutic relationship lies in the mutual trust and respect between the client and the Counsellor, which transcends the need for public recognition. If you see a big practice that doesn’t have a lot of reviews, look a bit deeper, because that may just be a good sign.

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