23 Jul 2009

What do counsellor's/therapists wear?

Hello chums, chaps,dudes, blokes, imaginary friends, not so imaginary ones and my dear readers. Welcome to yet another Claire wiffle waffle moment. It is just one of those days where random thoughts are being pondered and not a lot of sense is being made.
Yesterday I went to the local cancer support centre to see if I can do my volunteer counselling hours there for my counselling diploma. I wasn't feeling that nervous till it was time to go and then slight days of chunder feelings swooshed over me, but I got a grip of it and off I went.
The centre is a lovely place, as soon as you walk in it has such a nice vibe and it is run by lovely people.That is what I decided in the first few minutes anyways. It was an informal interview over a cup of coffee, were I was asked what models of counselling I would use, confidentiality issues, number of sessions, time available and all that fun stuff. I was also very happy to hear that they pay for my counselling supervision hours, which is great news for me! I didn't expect that at all. Expenses for travelling were offered also, but I shall be walking so wont need that. Then I got showed around the place, most importantly for me was seeing the listening room (counselling room).I got rather excited after having a look round and they seem happy to have me on-board with them. Just need to finish that college work stuff and get my references from college tutors, then away we go!

What does one wear?
When I left, I was left with one question buzzing around my noggin, what does one wear? As I have been a wretched student for some time now, my wardrobe accurately depicts this. So I have to have a think on what is suitable to wear for counselling?  I think the question in itself is interesting, as I myself have perceptions on what counsellors wear already, mainly because of my college tutors and classmates.

So as I was pondering, I did above doodle and twittered this question:

When you picture a counsellor/therapist, what did you picture them wearing? Anything in particular? Birthday suit is not a accepted answer .

@crpitt hrmmm I'll bite =D Brunette in form fitting suit, hair rolled up in a bun, glasses, with an innocent, but naughty look (via xight)
@crpitt I picture a female and wearing a semi professional skirt suit. Is that wrong? :) (via Cyran)
@crpitt that hot librarian look is good. Sorta demure but not. And not too much black (via yogachicky)
@crpitt I think what the counsellor should wear depends on who his or her clients are. Who are you going to be working with? (via cleiomao)
@crpitt Not sure how it is in the UK, but here, there are lots of muted, understated looks in the therapy field. (via Miragi)
@crpitt What we'd call "business casual" over here. No suits, but not too dress-down. (via Aerten)
@crpitt wear what u feel comfy in non restricting non showing of the breasts(important for female counsellors) nothing that distracts work (via Tao_of_Pooh)

Do counsellors that are paid versus counsellors that are volunteers wear different clothes? Does the type of client dictate what you 'should' wear? Does it matter to you?

Other stuff:
Mumborg is not behaving at all, yesterday she dislocated her hip/leg again! Just moving in her hospital bed. It is horrendously painful for her, I only know that because when she actually mentions something is painful, that means it is really painful. So she was nil by mouth most of the day, getting x-rayed and stuff, but they couldn't fit her into surgery till this morning.Which is not good for the mumborg, especially with the state of that leg already.
A hip dislocation is a true orthopaedic emergency in that the incidence of subsequent avascular necrosis of the femoral head is a time-dependent phenomenon becoming increasingly common if relocation is delayed beyond 6 hours.
The major major operation is scheduled for a week on Friday, with removal of everything bone and metal wise from the knee and up, to the hip area. That area will then be left 'floppy' i.e. no bones, till it is 100% infection free. Then they will see about reconstructing the leg, if that fails then the leg will have to go.


  1. My therapist just wore business casual - nice slacks, maybe a blouse, or sweater. My shrink wears the same. No suits... just comfortable clothes. After all she sits in her office all day and listens to folks like me blubber about... I'd want to be comfortable.

    No suits... I think that would make patients feel uncomfortable. Suits appear judgmental to me... makes sense?

    Hugs to Mumborg... but please send gentle ones. I hope this ordeal is taken care of quickly and she is back to herself...

  2. For where you'll be working I think that casual smart will be fine with not too much black. Smart trousers with nice tops. Like I said Dotty P was always a good choice for work clothes for me.

    Gosh, there's just no respite for the Mumborg is there. Fingers crossed for an infection free '09 :)

    From everything I've read/know of you, I believe that you will be one kick ass counsellor and I'm so pleased that you've found some where you like the feel of. Now finish your college stuff and get to work :)

  3. Poor Mumborg-- she has been through so much!

    Can't they just fill the floppy part of the leg with beans-- a la Beanie Babies-- until it can heal properly? It would be cheerful for her, plus make a nice noise when she moves. :)

    Okay, or not.

    Regarding your counselor clothing, how about a combination of the two looks-- mostly business casual with some interesting/more creative necklaces or earrings.

    That's how I survived when I had to dress up in marketing for my first job.

  4. I think it really depends on who you are, who your clients are, and where you are working. Working in an office might require something slightly smarter, working from home might allow for more casual clothing. If you have a client who works in the city and always comes to sessions in a suit, you might make them feel more comfortable by donning professional clothes. A client who always wears jeans and curls up on the sofa after kicking their shoes off (like me!) might be ok with a more casual approach.

    I personally go smart/casual to work. My own counsellor is much more relaxed with me (quite often she has nothing on her feet!) I prefer that myself, but you gotta think about the client. And you don't want to wear anything that will be incongruent to who you are either. You must be comfortable.

    So - not too many rules then ... ;) Thinking about the mumborg and you in all the unpleasantness.

  5. I still stand by the whole 'not too much black' comment, but in all seriousness, I think you have to feel like you.

    Looking and feeling comfortable and genuine, not too try-hard to distracting... these are all good things.

    Mostly, the people who come to see you won't give a fig what you're wearing and mightn't even remember it.

    But you feeling comfortable can only help how you relate to people - but I'm sure you already know that.

    Continued best wishes for the mumborg!!

  6. On clothes, comfortable without being too casual. Skirt and nice blouse with a jacket available if needed for business meetings or more formal interactions.

    Sorry the Mumborg is having a rough go again. Best wishes to you all and I hope the pain diminishes.

  7. Sorry to hear about your mom's troubles, Claire.

    As far as what to wear for counseling. When I do pro bono work (which is the only counseling I do these days), I usually wear very nondescript slacks with a nondescript top. I don't want to distract in any way with too flashy clothes or too stuffy (like a suit). I like to stick to subtle colors as well, such as beiges, grays, and other muted colors. I always feel those are soothing colors and I feel that is important in a counseling situation.


  8. I think that Melinda put it the best as I was thinking that as a counselor, you don't want to be drawing attention towards yourself; you want to sort of blend into the background as mostly you are a sounding board and bit of support for the person you are counseling. Definitely do NOT go for the old maid librarian look as that doesn't invite a person to open up and feel free to speak - way too binding for lack of a better word.

    Your poor mother has been going through hell and back and then back again. The poor, poor dear. Hope they get their proverbial act together over there soon and do their best by her to make her a) comfortable and b) well.

  9. I really like the beany suggestion for the mumborgs leg! Please suggest this to the docs, it might not be an option they've considered! If they go for it can we all come round to poke it?

    I'm in the smart casual camp... No suits, but going hippy chick might get in the way of some of your clients taking you seriously.

  10. I kind of had the same experience that Lois had. My shrink wore suit and tie, sat behind a desk. My counselor (my age) wore button down shirts with the sleeves rolled up, no tie, and chinos. Worked for me! It was more his attitude than his clothing. I had a female counselor who bored me to tears, and she dressed nicely. She actually wanted me to get on the floor with coloring books and crayons! Like that was gonna happen!
    Your poor mom! I cannot imagine what she must be going through! Enough already yet! Please tell her "hello," for me.

  11. I was a therapist in mid-70s America, so guess what we wore? You got it. Sandals, love beads, hair down to our knees, psychedelic tee-shirts and shorts. Don't think that'd go over too big these days. Can well understand your excitement at visiting those counseling rooms. Those first few sessions with clients, getting started, is such a thrill. You seem so in to it. I'm sure you're going to be a great therapist.

  12. I's guess a professional outfit, to give the impression the are competant experts.

  13. My studies are similar to yours, and as counselors, we should be modeling a positive life for our clients. A pulled together casual look that says we care enough about ourselves to put our best foot forward. It also shows respect for our clients if we look our best for work. We want to give them something to strive for while not projecting 'better than you' attitude.
    Linda in the US

  14. Ciao, For first: I found "random" your blog and it's nice. As counselor I think you have to be strong with an angel soul. Regarding what to wear: my grand mother said: "Clean shirt, and clean socks are necessary, and don't and clean your nose, mamma mia!" Well, I was 4.
    Sorry, I don't speak very well English. However I will follow your posts, they are interesting. Ciao, have a nice sunday. Italo.

  15. Great news Claire, I would go with smart/casual - professional but not intimidating. Whats suits you in fact. If you are comfortable, then so are they. Now if we could just get the Mumborg to behave...

  16. When I picture a therapist, I'd have to agree with yogachicky: the hot librarian look. Have you seen the Sopranos? I think of Tony's therapist.

    As far as what a therapist should wear: let the place of business, not the client, determine what should be worn. See what others do. Be comfortable and professional and it'll all be good (as far as the clothes go).

  17. I like your blog. Thanks for writing.

  18. Your input has been invaluable as always, I know common sense usually prevails, but sometimes it needs a nudge :)

  19. It depends? If your working with children and adolesent I wouldn't wear a suit it seems to them that you are there to judge. I would wear nice pants and a lovely shirt or blouse or sweater, and if your a girl some shoes that pop and add color. But if your working with adults too j suggests a skirt (can be pencil skirt or a mix flowy one) and a blouse with a little jewerly.

  20. Or if you have seen Glee the school counselor in that TV. Show look.