How do you find the right counselor for you? It can be a daunting task, especially if you are struggling with anxiety, depression, not feeling fulfilled in your life or a host of other mental health or relationship problems.
Finding the right counselor can be a bit of trial and error. Sometimes you’ve got to sit in the therapy room and get a feel for the person before you know whether they will be a good counselor for you. But just because it feels overwhelming doesn’t mean it’s impossible. There are some things to know that can help you find the right counselor.
Here are 6 tips for choosing the right therapist.
1. Ask friends and family for counselor referrals
Maybe posting your personal drama on Facebook isn’t the most ideal way to find a counselor, but asking friends and family for referrals is a great place to start. Does your sister struggle with anxiety and have a great counselor? Does your friend’s neighbor know a mental health therapist they love? Ask what they liked or didn’t like about their therapist to get some specific feedback. You can also get a list from your insurance company, google or search Psychology Today for counselors in your area, ask your doctor or pediatrician, or ask your bishop or other ecclesiastical leader.
2. Look at credentials and experience
There isn’t a magic formula for how to find the right counselor, but credentials and experience is important. Check their licensure and make sure it is active. A licensed therapist’s practice is regulated, they have received a certain amount of education, and they must do continuing education. Does the counselor you are considering have specific training in a certain type of therapy? Whatever you are seeking counseling for, whether it is anxiety, depression, divorce, marriage therapy, trauma, you want to make sure the counselor you are considering has experience with that topic. Have there been any complaints filed against this counselor? Look up the licensing department in your state to find out. (In the state of Utah the licensing department can be found here.)
3. Figure Out Price Range & Insurance
Many counselors and clinics take insurance, but many do not. If you want to find someone who accepts your insurance, getting a list from your insurance company might be a good place to start. Often, if a therapist is cash only, you can pay cash at the time of your session, get an invoice, and then submit that invoice to your insurance as an out of network provider. Many insurance companies will pay partial fees this way. Check with your insurance company for your out of network benefits to be sure. Click here for our current billing information. Some therapists offer a sliding scale fee or do a certain amount of pro bono work, so ask about that when you are looking for the right counselor. Clinics that hire student or associate therapists will be closely supervised by a licensed therapist and their fees are typically lower. You also may be able to ask your ecclesiastical leader to help subsidize the cost of therapy. If a Bishop or other ecclesiastical leader is paying for therapy, you will be required to sign a release so that the therapist can communicate with him/her about general things pertaining to your treatment.
4. Choose a Counselor You Feel Connected To
When on the hunt to find the right counselor keep in mind that the research is clear that the best predictor of whether therapy is successful or not is the strength of the therapeutic alliance. How connected you feel to your therapist determines in large part whether you consider therapy helpful or not. Many counselors offer a free phone or video consultation so you can get a good feel for whether they are a good fit for you. Contact us here to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly trained therapists. When you are trying to find the right counselor, remember that it may take a session or two to fully settle into feeling comfortable–therapy can be awkward at first! Make sure you’ve given enough time to really decide whether you feel the connection is there. Think about your preferences as you are searching for the right fit–do you prefer a male or female? Older or younger? Red head? Bald? Specific religion or not? It’s ok to shop around until you find someone that you find a counselor that you feel comfortable with and connected to.
5. Choose a Counselor that Challenges You
While it’s important to find a counselor that you can trust and feel comfortable with, it is equally important to find someone who isn’t worried about you always being comfortable. Confusing? Let me explain. Therapy is meant to identify mindsets or behaviors that are contributing to challenges in your life, and then to help shift those mindsets or behaviors. Shifting and changing and building are uncomfortable. Your therapist should be willing to push you (in an appropriate way) to see patterns and thought processes that could be tweaked a bit. And just like building muscle, it might be a tad (or more than a tad) uncomfortable. You are not paying your therapist to nod mindlessly and agree with everything you say. You’ve got friends (or ice cream) for that.
6. Keep Trying Until You Find the Right Counselor
In therapy there are countless personalities, skills, licenses, experience, and ways of viewing change. Every therapist has a unique skillset and background, and finding the right counselor for you may take some time. If you have had a poor experience in therapy and you feel up to it, please try again! If one mental health therapist wasn’t the right fit, that doesn’t mean that therapy in general isn’t a good fit. Just like it might take a few tries to find the hairstylist or massage therapist or chiropractor that just gets you, so it might take a few tries with different counselors. Be an advocate for your own mental health, and keep looking until you find the right counselor for you.
Finding the right counselor can be a daunting task, but it is worth the extra work to find the yin to your yang. Drop a question in the comments or contact us here if you would like to set up a free 15 minute consultation to see if we are a good fit!