Trying to find the right counselor that fits your needs can feel overwhelming –especially if you’ve never been to counseling before. The following tips are meant to help the process of finding the right counselor for you feel a little bit easier.
First, you’re going to want to identify your goals for counseling. Why are you seeking counseling at this time? How are you hoping to see your life changed through counseling? The answers to these questions will help you to find the right counselor whose specialties or focus areas fit your needs and concerns.
Next, you’ll want to consider your counselor preferences. You are the consumer, so you get to have preferences about the type of counselor you see. You might prefer to see a counselor of a particular gender, ethnicity, race, faith background, etc. Keep in mind that the more comfortable you feel with your counselor, generally the more honest you’re going to be in counseling. Your openness and authenticity is important to the counseling process.
It’s also important to take a look at your budget. Counseling is an investment in your health, but you don’t want it to cause undue stress or financial strain. You want to be able to fully engage in the counseling process without worrying about the finances attached to it.
On average, most counselors suggest the frequency of sessions to be weekly or every other weekly. Counseling rates may differ depending on the type of counseling services provided (i.e., individual, couples, family counseling) and the education and expertise of your counselor.
In looking at your finances, you might decide that you need to use your insurance benefits for counseling. Some counselors are in network and some are not. Those who are not can provide a detailed receipt or superbill that you can submit to your insurance company for potential out of network reimbursement. I recommend calling your insurance provider to clarify your benefits.
Some counselors offer sliding fee scales, which are usually based on annual income. Lower cost options for counseling services include services offered at community mental health centers. Community mental health centers are typically larger agencies that offer a diversity of mental health services (i.e., counseling, case management, medication management, etc.) to the community. Some local health clinics may also offer pro bono services.
Once you’ve identified your counseling goals, counselor preferences, and determined an appropriate budget for your counseling services, you are ready to search for a counselor! I recommend finding at least 2-3 counselors that you think you might be interested in seeing. Contact those counselors and ask for a consultation with them to see if you’d be a good fit to work together.
Consultations can be done over the phone or in person. You might ask the counselors about their philosophy of counselor or how they might envision addressing the concerns you have. While talking with them, gauge your level of comfort. Don’t be afraid to shop around. One counselor doesn’t fit all. But, once you find one that you think you could be honest and open with, give it a shot! Blessings as you seek to find the right counselor for you.