Tired of looking through generic counseling and therapy websites full of headshots and comfy couches and still not finding the best fit for you and your needs? I get it. How in the world are you suppose to choose which person is going to give you the life-changing feedback and relief that you are desperately looking for?
The choices can be overwhelming, especially since you are typically searching for a therapist on your own. Heck, I even bring a friend with me to go shoe shopping, so how am I supposed to trust my own judgment in selecting a “stranger” with my deepest fears, worries, weaknesses, and life story! So let me help you on how to get started on what might be the most powerful and beneficial relationship you might ever have…
A Simple Guide To Help You Find the Right Counselor
This stuff may not seem easy at first but once you understand some counselor lingo it can be. Here are some important terms to understand when choosing a counselor. You may be already asking yourself, LPC? LMFT? What do all the letters behind their name mean?!
Learn What Type of Counseling They Specialize In
Besides making sure they have the appropriate licensing for your state, (completion of a graduate program and graduate hours) I wouldn’t get too hung up on the letters behind their name but find out their specialties.
There are many LPC’s (Licensed Professional Counselor) that do more social work than social workers and many LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) that do more therapy than social work. Check out their bio to see exactly what type of clients they work with. For example, I would hate to see a client skip over my profile because I’m an LPC if they were looking for an LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists), even though that is one of my specialties and the main population I work with, especially since I have extended training in it.
This is why it is important to ask and to read reviews/testimonials from former or current clients. Also, it is a good note to self to look into “Life Coaches” and “Christian Counselors” to see if they also carry a postgraduate licensing in the subject you are seeking help with.
Specialized Training: Are they using it?
If the therapist notes specialized training credentials this is awesome especially if this is what you are looking for, things like Play Therapy, Gottman Approach, Narcissistic abuse recovery, or IMAGO certified are all great examples of specialized training. However, I would also check out their bio, website, reviews, and when you speak with them on the phone, see if this is who they primarily treat.
For example, I have specialized training in working with adoption adjustment, however, this is not the main part of my practice, so I gladly refer out to fellow LPCs that specializes and actively works with this population as they would be the most up to date on practices, new treatment options, laws, etc. This type of research will help to continue narrowing down to the “best fit” therapist.
Boundaries, Boundaries. Do they have Professional Boundaries?
Let me save you some time, money, and paperwork here. If you question their boundaries via their bio, their voicemail, their call back, their website, their invitation to be friends on Facebook, then take the que and keep looking. I cannot tell you how many times I have clients come to me with the history of leaving a therapist they “liked” but felt they did not have a professional sense about them. I tell my clients from day one, I am not your friend, I am your therapist.
We might be like-minded people, but if we are “friends” or if I am worried about what you think of me, then that could influence me on not being honest with you and giving you that “life-changing” feedback you desperately came in for! You have friends, and a therapist gets to be your therapist. This can push some potential prospects to the top of the list for you!
Trust your Gut
One of the most beautiful things about counseling is starting to learn to listen to your “gut” feeling. It’s ok to listen to your “gut” as you are sifting through sites. Is there something that just feels” off,” or is there something that just feels “right?” Its ok to listen to those and follow up on them. We are naturally going to be attracted to people similar to us, looks, etc.
It is also ok to notice whose face you feel “safe with.” I often get the “You looked like someone I can trust” as much as I would like to thank my mom and dad for the “trusting face” gene, sometimes it allows you to share more quicker in session if you feel like it is someone you will be able to take your guard down with.
Word of Mouth never falls short!
“When in doubt, ask around.”
One thing that will never fail you, is asking 15 people about if they know of anyone the would recommend. Most of the time, you will hear recurring themes both good or bad about the most utilized counselors in the area. Don’t know 15 people…ask on social media for recommendations. Your list is getting shorter! Yeah!
7 Questions To Help You Find the Right Counselor
Since the above things are more perceptions and feelings below are a few tangible things you can “check off” when it comes to “is he/she the one.”
- Did they call/email me back in a timely manner?
- Do they have appropriate consent and intake paperwork prior to my first visit?
- Did they share with me what to expect on my first visit, or leave it up to me to ask questions?
- Do they offer a comfortable setting for me to do sessions?
- Do they have a credible bio, website, business page for me to reference their practice experience?
- Do they have time in their schedule and upcoming schedule to properly meet my treatment needs?
- What does my gut say?
I hope this helps, as I know how important it is to feel comfortable when you are ready to dig in on your personal work. If you have any questions or would like any referrals please feel free to give me a call, I would be honored to help or point you in the right direction.