Have they experience or training specific to type of issue you bring?
A professionally qualified practitioner of counselling or psychotherapy will be trained
to deal with a wide range or issues, and many therapists' skill and expertise derives from
the rich breadth of experience they have.
But some specialise in particular areas such
as bereavement, couples or family therapy, or alcohol and drugs.
Whether specialised or not, a professional therapist should be able to give you
an understandable reply to your question.
A confused, difficult to understand answer to questions like these can sometimes
be an indicator that the counsellor is not confident of their experience.
Are they registered with a professional organisation?
Remember though, that all counselling is subject to confidentiality so the
counsellor will not be free to tell you anything about their work with other
individuals that might constitute a breach of that confidentiality.
In the UK, most established practitioners are listed on one of
the Voluntary Registers for Counselling.
The largest organisations with which therapists can be registered are BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy) and
UKCP (United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy) in the UK and IACP (Irish Association For Counselling and Psychotherapy) in Ireland,
although other organisations exist.
There's not necessarily anything
wrong with a practitioner who is not registered with such an organisation, but practitioner-level membership or registration in one or other organisation
suggests that a practitioner has been vetted to a certain degree, and that they are willing to work to the professional standards
laid down by these organisations, as well as being subject to their complaints procedures.
Whichever organisation they cite, do some research online to see what authoritative websites say about it, or
ask the advice of a practitioner you trust. Not all organisations vet their members -
they may take the registrant's word for it.
The organisation's own website will normally have information
to let you know what level of qualification or experience is needed for membership,
and how they expect applicants to their organisation to prove their credentials.