April is Counseling Awareness month! Entering counseling can feel like a scary or daunting process. You may have a number of questions. Maybe you’ve given some thought to seeing a counselor but have felt uncertain about what to do. Or, maybe you’ve avoided the process because it feels too overwhelming trying to decide where to begin. This post provides some tips to help you find a counselor who will be a good fit for you and hopefully eliminate some of the uncertainty around getting started.
Here are 10 tips on finding a counselor who is a good fit for you:
- Check therapist directories such as PsychologyToday and GoodTherapy.org Both sites allow you to filter the type of counselor you’re looking for by zip code, insurance coverage, issues of concern, and more. These sites promote counselors with verified credentials.
- Contact your health insurance company and ask whether mental or behavioral health is covered, there is oftentimes a phone number for these services on your insurance card, or you may visit your insurance company’s website and search for a provider there.
- Talk with friends and family, chances are someone you know is already seeing a counselor or has seen one in the past and they might have recommendations
- Talk to your doctor, they may have a go-to provider or a list of providers to refer you to.
- Check to see if your employer offers an Employee Assistance Program that provides a limited number of free mental health sessions for employees.
- Do a Google search for counseling or therapy in your area using specific key words you want help with such as “depression” or “teen counseling.”
- Call a few counselors. Many counselors offer a free initial consultation either in person or over the phone. Speak with a few of them to help you decide who you might feel most comfortable with and to get a sense of what you’re looking (and not looking) for. If a counselor wants to schedule you while you’re still trying to decide, just let them know you’re not ready to schedule yet and you’d like more time to think about it.
- Visit counselors’ websites. You can shop around and learn about the counseling services you’re interested in before you pick up the phone to call anyone. On many websites you can find out information about fees, insurance, and the counselor’s approach to helping.
- If you schedule with a counselor and discover afterward that it’s not a good fit you can always let your counselor know you don’t think it’s working. Your counselor may be able to refer you elsewhere, adjust the treatment to better meet your needs, or explore with you where the feeling of disconnection might be coming from. Unless you’ve been court-ordered to attend counseling, you have a right to stop going whenever you want and for whatever reason.
- Check your local colleges, places of worship, mental health agencies, or family crisis agencies to see if they offer counseling and if you are eligible for services.
Uncertainty and avoidance are two possible barriers to getting started with counseling and can prevent you from getting the help you need. Since April is Counseling Awareness Month, hopefully this post has increased your awareness about how to find a counselor and given you some suggestions to help you feel more confident when you’re ready to reach out and begin the counseling process.