When searching for a counselor, it can be difficult to know where to start. Picking the right therapist depends on both your needs and the counselor’s style, experience, and personality. Below are some helpful steps and considerations to help in your decision.
1. Go with your instincts. Most of the time, our initial or subconscious assessment of others are pretty accurate. This rule generally applies to therapists as well. Do they seem easy for you to talk to? Are they easy to understand? Are they easily accessible, personable, trustworthy? Pay attention to how comfortable you feel in your initial meeting. Do you feel certain they have the ability to help you achieve your goals? Keep in mind that this is only a beginning step in choosing the right therapist. 2. Does the therapist specialize in the field that you are look for help in? Many therapists specialize or focus in a handful of different fields or focuses. Most counselors will be up front and honest with you about what areas they specialize in, and likely will have a referral to another counselor in the community if your needs or goals are better suited by another professional. Make sure to ask them directly if they are experienced in the area you are seeking help. Also consider choosing a group practice with a diverse group of therapist that will likely have specialized support for most people. 3. Does the therapist have a graduate degree? In some states, people call their profession “counselors” or “therapists” based off of seminars or learning in certain therapeutic approaches, but have not attained a graduate degree. It is generally not advisable or in some cases dangerous to seek professional help from individuals without a graduate degree and experience. 4. Is the therapist creditable and knowledgeable? Not all therapy or therapists are the same. Find out what types of therapeutic approaches the therapists uses, and if they sound like something that would work for you. Does the therapist seem confident, creditable and knowledgeable in their therapeutic approach? 5. Understand that therapy is a process. Many people go in to therapy not knowing what to expect, and sometimes feel that a session or two will “fix” their problem. When seeking therapy, make sure to spend time reflecting on what your goals are, and have a realistic timeline and expectations set up to achieve those goals. Lasting and meaningful results are contingent on both the participants willingness and effort, the methods used by the counselor, and the professional relationship you both share.
Other Considerations Before Counseling
-Have spent time reflecting on what your own goals are for counseling?
-Does the counselor or company offer a preliminary consultation to see if they are the right fit for you?
-What insurances do the accept, will they work with your insurer?
-Do they openly post their hourly rates, will they work on a sliding scale if necessary?
-Do you prefer a male or female counselor, or does it not matter?