Once you have made the decision to reach out for the help of a professional counselor, it can be difficult to know where to go or what to do next. We have provided a few recommendations to help you find a counselor to best serve your mental or relational health needs.
- Ask for recommendations! Asking people you know and trust for their recommendations is one of the best ways to find a counselor. If you have a friend who works in the mental health field, reach out to them first. Other people you can ask include: your family doctor, a faith community leader, a teacher, or a school counselor.
- Search the online directories of counselors. Online directories allow you to look at a wide network of potential counselors, and you have the ability to refine your search based on location, insurance providers, and areas of speciality, such as couples or family counseling. Many counselors also have websites for their practice or agency, so once you have found a few potential counselors, check out their website to see if they are a good fit. Here are some of the most prominent directories:
- If you are seeking counselor with one or more other people (i.e. your partner and/or children), make sure to determine whether the counselor is a good fit for everyone involved. By considering everyone’s needs and preferences for a counselor, you will create a counseling environment that is conducive to success.
- Once you have identified potential good fits, reach out to speak with the counselor. Many counselors allow potential clients to reach out through email or by phone. If this is true for the counselors you are considering, use this opportunity to ask questions which will help you determine if they are a good fit for your counseling needs. Some questions you could potentially ask are: 1) Can you describe your counseling approach to me?; 2) What training have you received to work with couples and families?; 3) What experience do you have with the current issue I am facing?; 4) What are your fees and payment options? Do you accept health insurance, and if so, which providers do you accept? 5) How long do your sessions last, how often can I expect to come in for counseling, and are there any limits or expectations regarding how long you would see a client?
Here are a few other tips to keep in mind when looking for a counselor:
- Look for someone who explains things in terms that you can understand.
- Find someone who makes you feel comfortable and safe, as this is essential to feeling like you can be open and honest in the counseling relationship.