Finding a new counselor can be confusing, to say the least. There are all kinds of different licenses, specializations, theories, approaches, the list goes on… How the heck are you supposed to decipher all of the different varieties of information you see on the internet?
We totally get it.
Here are some simple steps to finding a counselor that can hopefully relieve some stress over the process.
The Best Place to Start.
Searching for “counselors near me” may not be your most direct route. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but not every counselor will be a good fit. You want someone that you know is equipped for the job and who holds the same priorities for the relationship that you do. The best place to start is asking for referrals from people or sources you trust.
- Do you know someone who has talked about their own counseling experiences? Ask them what practice they attended.
- If you attend church, can you ask a pastor or staff member for counselors they recommend?
- If you have a relationship with a primary care physician, ask them for counselors they can refer you to.
- Ask friends, family or other sources of your community (bible study members, small group leaders, church elders, etc) who you feel comfortable with if they have seen or heard about counselors in the area.
It’s Okay to Shop a Little Bit.
Counselors are unique people, just like you are. The first counselor you try may not be a good fit for you. It’s a good idea to attend a couple of sessions and then re-evaluate how you’re feeling about how counseling is going. Attending at least three sessions allows you to get through the discomfort of doing something new and scary, as well as the initial intake that a therapist goes through to get to know you. By the way, it’s completely appropriate to ask a counselor any questions you have about their expertise, approach, process or plan for treatment. Counseling is a relationship, and it’s meant to help you. So if after a couple of sessions you’re not feeling so sure, it’s okay to voice your concerns and even try someone new.
Logistics are a Factor.
It’s an unfortunate reality, but logistics matter. If you have a specific budget or schedule that you have to work within, then some counselors will likely be ruled out. Pricing, location, and appointment times all vary by location. If you find a counselor you love, but you can’t afford the hourly rate and you’re frequently canceling because they’re a 45-minute drive from your office then maybe it’s not your best option. A great counselor is 100% worth making sacrifices for, but if it’s not actually feasible you may have to reconsider.
Choose Based on Your Priorities for Counseling.
Do you really want scripture or Christian values to be emphasized during your time? Look for a faith-based therapist. Is there something really specific that you’re wanting to work on? Try to find a counselor that specializes in that area. Is there a relationship or family dynamic that’s causing you heartache? Find a great marriage & family therapist. Counseling is for YOU. And what’s important to you can be addressed with someone who sees your values and makes them a priority during your time together. If you’re unsure what you need, then that’s okay too! Part of the counseling process can be deciphering that together. Consider what your priorities for counseling are, and get to know counselors who can help you navigate those things.
Don’t get lost in a sea of credentials and paragraphs. Counseling is a relationship, and just like with other providers in your life there are people you will click with and who God has uniquely equipped to help you. If you’re looking for a place to start, we’d love to talk with you about what you’re looking for in counseling. Our counselors would be happy to get to know you, and even refer you to another trusted colleague if we believe someone else can help you best! Get in touch to talk things through, and we’ll help you find a counselor you feel comfortable with.