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Finding the Right Counselor

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

It can already be intimidating enough reaching out for support. How do I know what to look for? What would be a "good fit" for me? What if I start counseling and realize this just isn't the right one?

The first image that comes to mind with finding a "good fit" is peanut butter and jelly. A counselor/ client connection should compliment each other. One should not over power the other (and I am mainly referring to the counselor). You are coming for YOU and you should be able to guide that PBJ ratio! Below you will find some things to consider and look for when you are looking for a counselor.

What are you coming for?

Anxiety? Grief & Loss? Trauma? Depression? A stressful situation that doesn't seem to be improving? Marriage/ couples counseling? Family Counseling?

Each counselor or counseling agencies profile/ website should explain some of the things they specialize in or are able to help with. There are also specific therapies that coincide as treatment options for specific things. You will want to see if the person you are looking to schedule with is able to provide these therapies and is knowledgeable in them.

Here are some therapies that you might see that would treat specific concerns:

Anxiety: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), exposure therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, acceptance & commitment therapy, and mindfulness based therapy.

Depression: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, mindfulness based therapy, interpersonal therapy, psychodynamic therapy, supportive counseling, solution based therapy, and problem solving therapy.

Trauma: TF-CBT (Trauma focused cognitive behavioral therapy), EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing), Progressive Counting, Fairy Tale Model, Cognitive processing therapy

Stressful situations: Solution focused therapy, CBT, mindfulness based therapy, schema therapy, problem solving therapy, certain skills in DBT may be applicable here too.

Grief & Loss: Berievement counseling, & support groups.

Marriage / Couples Counseling: Integrated Behavioral Couples Therapy, solution focused therapy, narrative therapy, imago relationship therapy.

Many counselors are well versed in multiple therapies, and may use a variety of techniques to meet your needs.

Questions to Ask

Once you have found someone who seems like they specialize in what you are looking for... it is time to make that phone call OR email!

Here are some things you might want to ask:

* Do they accept my insurance?

* If not, do they offer a sliding fee scale or take my insurance out of network?

* When is the soonest available appointment?

* Do their appointment times work with your schedule?

* Do they offer telehealth? (if this is important to you)

My personal counseling experience

In total transparency, we, as counselors need to be sure we are taking care of ourselves to ensure we can take care of others!

At the brink of the pandemic, home with a 10 month old and kindergartener (remote learning), I realized I needed to sort my own feelings out. I felt stretched thin in all areas of my life (wife, mom, social worker, and now school teacher). Having been in counseling in the past for some situational stressors that had popped up, I knew I was looking for someone who would truly understand. Empathy is so big for me. It just goes a long way. At my initial sessions in counseling I could always tell if the person was being genuinely empathetic. If I am coming to you for an hour to spill all my problems, I need genuine.

But what does "genuine" look like? How can you see it?

For me, genuine is the tone of voice (matching me when I talk), and the PATIENCE, oh my gosh #patienceiseverything ! Really allowing me time to process, because let's face it... when you get in that chair (or on that screen), my brain tends to freeze. I need time to think!

Speaking of Time to Think....

Now it is your turn! What is important to you? What do you need from a counselor? What does that look like? How will you know? Sometimes writing these things down helps. Something about putting it on paper helps the brain remember when we get in that chair and are looking for these things.

Lastly, EEEK... this is not a good fit...

I can assure you, we won't be hurt. We just want you to be successful no matter where you go! Remind yourself that you are seeking a service, a VERY important service. If you weren't satisfied at a restaurant, would you keep going back? Email, call until it goes to voicemail if that is more comfortable for you. You deserve the best.


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