The Process of Entering Counseling: How to Find the Right Therapist for You
The process of entering counseling can be overwhelming and intimidating. How do I find the right one? How do I know I’ll feel comfortable with them or like them? Who do I ask? Where do I look? What do I look for? We may also wonder what counseling is like, how it works, and whether or not it will really help. And then there’s the huge question of money! How much should therapy cost? Can I use insurance? How do I use insurance?
We won’t tackle all of these questions in this blog, but we will post a series of blogs to help answer these questions.
Let’s start with some helpful thoughts on finding the right therapist for you.
One of the first things you want to do when looking for a therapist is to ask friends and family if they have seen or know of any really good therapists. This, of course, exposes the fact that you are seeking therapy, which can be vulnerable in and of itself. These days, however, many people are proud to say that they have a therapist. I have many clients who love to share with others about their counseling process, the stuff we discuss in therapy, and how helpful it is for them! And, it is much more commonplace now than it has ever been in the history of psychotherapy. And it’s not only for the well-to-do, as it was in the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s. When you ask a family member, friend, or coworker for a counseling referral, ask them what it is about the therapist that they really liked. How did your therapist help you? Why do you think your therapist would be a good fit for me? How much do they charge? Where is their office located?
If you don’t want to go the route of getting a personal referral, then you might want to search the Web for therapists in your area. You can also search therapists that specialize in particular areas: anxiety, depression, spirituality & faith, trauma, grief & loss, identity and life stage adjustment, family relationships, couple relationships, parenting, children & play therapy, etc. Then, you should look at the websites for these therapists and group practices and see how it feels to you. Does the look and feel of the website feel good to you or resonate with you? Believe it or not, websites really do tend to represent the style and feel of an individual or group of therapists. Go with your gut, here. Then, read about the practicing clinician or clinicians and look at their profile pics and bios and see who you are drawn to. Again, go with your gut here. Did you know that your gut instinct is about 99% accurate? Now, learning to listen to your true gut is an awareness skill in and of itself! Next, contact the group practice or individual clinician and ask if you can have a brief phone consult. Some clinicians will do a free 30 minute face-to-face consultation. Others are happy to do a 10 or 15 minute phone consultation and then charge for an initial session. Please don’t be turned off by those who won’t do free face-to-face consultations. They are not cold individuals. They are very busy, and have plenty of clients, and don’t need the marketing edge that free consultations provide, which might mean that they have a thriving practice, which is a good sign that they are competent!
In the consultation, whether by phone or face-to-face, tell the therapist why you are seeking therapy at this time. Tell them what kind of therapy, counseling, guidance, and/or skills you are looking for. Ask them how they work with what you are struggling with or facing. A good therapist can tell you, initially and based on their experience, what they think you might be needing to get where you want to go and to get to a better place. Be honest with your potential counselor about what you are dealing with. Saying that you just have a few things to work through, when in actuality you have suffered pretty severe trauma, is not helpful to finding the right therapist for you. Saying that you have a few struggles in your relationship, when in fact you are on the brink of divorce, may not get you the therapy or counsel you are looking for. Also, it is good practice for a therapist to ask you questions during the consultation. A good therapist is not desperate for just any client. Good therapists know who and what they work best with, and know who they are most effective with. A competent therapist will not just see anybody. They will see people they think will be a good fit for them, too.
Lastly, you must address logistics; location, schedules, and fees, which we will cover in an upcoming blog post. This is a bigger topic than you might think! Stay tuned…
If you are looking for a great therapist, we have them! And we don’t take that statement lightly. There are so many really great therapists out there. To suggest that we have the corner on the market on good counseling is ridiculous. And we don’t need more obvious ridiculousness in our country right now! But our clinicians are awesome; personable, knowledgeable, and accessible. Reach out to us by calling 303-393-0085 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to support you in getting the best help available!
~ Clinton J. Nunnally, LPC