When looking for a Counselor, it is always a good idea to talk to people that you know and trust who have themselves had successful experiences in this area. This is the best way to begin looking. Ask this person what they experienced and what seemed to help them, if they are willing to share. Sometimes people are willing to share and other times they will simply give you a recommendation. Don’t take that personal because often times people do not like to share with others what they experienced in their own therapy. They will more than likely give you a referral and state that it was good but often that may be the extent of it. You can also seek a referral from any other professional that you may know, for example, your doctor, accountant, lawyer, nurse practitioner, clergyman or woman, etc. Often they or someone in their family may have received good therapy from someone that they would be happy to refer you to.
Counseling can be provided in different ways by many different professionals. Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Professional Counselors, Nurse Practitioners, Social Workers, Caseworkers, Ministers, Reverends, Priests, and other local agencies, can all provide help of some kind. Sometimes you can find a local or church group if your needs will permit that type of help. Depending on your needs you may want to tailor your selection towards a professional that can better provide the services that you require.
As you identify a probable professional you may want to speak with them on the phone or email them with your questions. Should you have questions that pertain to your individual case you may be able to single out the right person for you before even making an appointment with them. Sometimes just a short phone conversation can allay any fears that you may have and help to bring about a comfortable feeling before you even meet face to face. You will want to find out about the cost of sessions and about what payment methods are accepted. Some professional accept insurance and you may want to find one that is on your insurance plan. You can also contact your insurance company to receive a list of those providers in your area that are already on your plan. You can also ask if there is any kind of sliding scale where rates are reduced according to your income. You can also ask about methods and practices used in treatment, and see if these fit your ideas of what you are looking for.
As far as getting to know your professional, sometimes a first meeting can be arranged, where you can go in and sit down for a few minutes with the Counselor and ask any questions that you may have. If this would help you to make a decision then it is worth a try. Often, a professional’s schedule is such that a short visit may not be possible, so don’t take it personal if they are not available to agree to this. This in itself could be a good indicator that this person is very busy and others confidently seek them out and fill their schedule. If you truly would like to spend some time with the Counselor before committing to a long-term relationship; then schedule an appointment with them and let them know that you would like to come in for that purpose. They may begin with their normal intake evaluation and procedures but you will be free to ask questions and get a feel for their demeanor and professionalism as the session unfolds. You can find out what treatment modalities they utilize during sessions. You will be able to see what it feels like to sit in their waiting room and office where the therapy may take place. If you don’t feel comfortable in those spaces then you will have more information to make your mind up. If after you are in for the intake and you feel that this professional may not be a good fit for you and let them know that you don’t feel comfortable moving forward; depending on how much time you have taken from their schedule, they may or may not charge you. If you are to continue with them, then you will have to expect to pay for the services. Regardless, once you go in for the first meeting (usually an evaluation type interview), you do not have to continue with therapy with that person if you don’t feel comfortable. This is your life and your choice.
Many people access the internet for help and the World Wide Web has many listings for local providers that offer a vast amount of information on their own websites. You can do a search in your local for general counseling or you can be more specific. If you are looking for help with depression, anxiety or a phobia of driving you can be specific with your search. Professionals often list their specialties.
Although there may be many Counselors listed on the web they all have different methods of treating different problems. Some may work often with trauma cases and other Counselor don’t deal with trauma at all. Some may work with Obsessive Compulsive behaviors and others not so much. Some work with Cutting behavior and Suicidality and others will not. You can find out a lot from a professional’s website. Often they will have testimonials where past clients have shared their experience anonymously to help others see what is possible if one were to seek help with that particular Counselor.
Choosing the first person that you find may not always be the best way to select a professional for you. Do your homework and research the individual that you will be entrusting with your most intimate thoughts and feelings. Lastly, trust your gut feeling about whether or not to move forward with the professional that you are considering. Because someone you know had a good experience with a particular professional and recommended them to you, it doesn’t mean that that person is right for you. Trust yourself in your decision-making process.