If you think you would like to make an appointment with a counsellor or therapist, here are some things to consider.

What kind of training and experience have they had? What kind of qualifications do they have?
There are many different counselling approaches and types of training that can be taken to become a counsellor. Experience too is important. A psychologist, for example, may not have any experience undertaking professional counselling as this is not always included in university training. Generally speaking, the longer a counsellor has been practising, the more experienced they will be. It is also worth considering whether the experience is relevant to your situation. Someone who has worked a lot with small children and their parents may not have had much to do with adults questioning their sexuality.
Also, while training, qualifications and experience are important, the more degrees and university courses a person has done doesn't necessarily make them someone you want to meet with on a regular basis. Think about your own values and whether these are likely to be respected by the practitioner.

Are they a member of a professional association or organisation with a code of ethics?
Professional associations generally require their members maintain accountability for the way they practice. They may require members to constantly improve their knowledge and skills through professional development courses as part of their accreditation standards. Some associations provide their members with insurance. Your counsellor should have appropriate professional indemnity and public liability insurance for the work they are doing.

Do they have a 'supervisor'?
Supervision for counsellors and therapists is not the same as supervision in a management situation. It means something completely different. It is about ensuring the practitioner is taking care of their own well-being and helps to ensure their integrity. Counsellors and therapists in private practice will generally be paying for private supervision from a more or equally experienced person. Those who work for organisations will often have a clinical supervisor who is separate to their line manage. If the counsellor does not receive supervision from a more experienced practitioner, or peer-supervision, they should probably be avoided.

Would you feel more comfortable with someone of the same gender, sexuality or cultural background?

While, by virtue of their profession, counsellors and therapists should maintain the highest standards of confidentiality and respect for the people who consult with them, it may feel more comfortable for you to meet with someone with similar experiences. Don't be afraid to ask questions of the person before the session or decide not to proceed if you are unsure.