30 Apr

I think we need counseling – but where do we start?

You’ve decided you need counseling.  Now what? How do you find the counselor who is the right fit?  You need someone you can trust, someone you can open up to, and someone who can help you with what you’re going through.  It’s important to consider the type of counselor and the type of counseling sessions that you are looking for. So do your research and consider recommendations and reviews before starting with a counselor.


Choose the type of counselor

Make a list for yourself of things you’d like your counselor to be.  Are you looking for someone with a doctorate or a master’s level degree?  Is degree less important to you than whether the counselor has extra certifications, licenses, or credentials, such as Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT), CAC (Certified Addiction Counselor) or Certified Anger Management Specialist (CAMS)?  When a counselor has additional certifications or licenses, they have taken extra steps to be well educated in these specialties, including extra education, supervision hours, and testing. Are you looking for someone who offers specialized therapy such as Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy (EMDR), or someone who can pair individual sessions with group therapy?


Decide the style of counseling

Is your need for individual or couples counseling?  Are you seeking group therapy or a support group? Are you looking for family therapy or parenting help?  Is it important for your counselor to be faith based? Would you prefer to see someone in individual practice, or as part of a group practice?  Is it important that there be a medication prescriber under the same roof? It’s helpful to ask yourself these questions in advance. Usually, a counseling center will list the various offerings on their website, so you can find this information easily.


Consider your comfort zone

Consider whether you’d like to find a counselor close to your home or office, if you prefer a male or female counselor, and the type of office you would be meeting at.  You may also want to consider age and experience as a factor, as you want to relate to this person and feel safe opening up to them. Ask questions about their approach to therapy.  If this therapy is for your child, do they have the tools and experience for play therapy?


Do your research

Take the time to do your research on potential counselors.  Make sure you understand the qualifications each counselor has, and what licenses and certifications they have earned. Take the time to read websites and call receptionists, asking questions like “What hours are you available?”, “What is your fee schedule?”, and “What is your cancellation policy?”.  The counselor and their staff should disclose this information to you prior to your first therapy session.


Search for recommendations and reviews

Don’t shy away from asking those you trust for recommendations.  Your family doctor may have great therapists to refer to, and so would your child’s school counselor.  Your pastor probably has some great resources too. While counselors may not receive online reviews as frequently as other professionals, you can also check for those as well.  


Read about potential counselors

Read the profiles, bios, and blog posts from counselor that might be a good fit. As you read this information, ask yourself if this person sounds like someone you can trust, someone you’d like to talk to, and someone who knows how to help. You can learn a lot about a person from reading this information, and it can help you narrow your search.


Schedule one session

Before you commit to a long-term therapy relationship, ask if you can schedule one session with a counselor to see if it is a good fit. It is important that you feel like you “click” with your counselor, and you can usually tell this best by sitting down with a potential counselor one on one. If it’s not a good fit, don’t worry and don’t feel pressured to stay with that counselor. You need to find someone that you can talk to who has the skills to give you the help that you need.

When you’re ready to take the next step to find the right counselor for your family, take the steps listed above to ensure you find someone who is a good fit for you.  Read the information on potential counselor’s websites, and don’t hesitate to ask questions. Your mental health is important, so utilize the information available to you to get the best help possible.

If you’ve done your research and would like to schedule your first appointment with one of our qualified counselors, call (720) 489-8555 or contact us to get started.


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