Top 6 Recommendations for Choosing a Counselor
Choosing a counselor is an incredibly personal process! While some people might feel very comfortable asking for a referral from a friend- most wouldn't ask a friend for a referral.
Most people who call me for counseling are completely perplexed about how to find a counselor. Most people Googled counseling Modesto, CA and found my website, still feeling nervous and unsure about the process. I enjoy walking people through the process and lowering the anxiety associated with finding a counselor. Whether someone "clicks" with me as their therapist is less important than someone getting support as quickly as possible.
So, I thought I would share my Top 7 recommendations for choosing a fabulous counselor here:
- Start to clarify in your mind what you want out of counseling. Do you want to save your marriage? Are you looking for a neutral person to talk things out with? Do you want to be happy again and banish anxiety or depression forever? Clarifying your goal in your mind will help you to choose a counselor that will be able to help you reach your goal.
- If you have EVER been to counseling in the past- think about what you DID and DID NOT like about that person. Write down some questions that might help you to determine whether this counselor will have similar traits.
- Whether you have or have not been to counseling before, write down a list of questions that come up in your mind: Where is your office? What are your fees? How often will I see you? What time slots do you have open? What is your style of therapy? Do you think you can help me? How do I talk to my partner about relationship counseling? Have these down on paper. If they are not written down in front of you, you will forget what you wanted to ask your potential counselor. I always do my best to anticipate the questions that potential clients have, but not all counselors do that and NO counselor can read your mind ;0)
- Look at your budget to see what you can invest in counseling. Ick! Nobody wants to talk about money! It is OK to talk about money. You need to determine what your budget is, so you can find a counselor that you like AND you can afford. Non-profit charity agencies can provide counseling for free, or at a rate based on your income that can range from $20-$100/hr. Usually these services are provided by pre-licensed therapists. Private practice therapists are usually licensed, and rates can range anywhere from $60-$150 for a 50 minute session. You don't want to choose just the cheapest person, you want to choose someone that fits your budget AND you think can help you! (If you don't like this person or think they can help you- $20 a session might just be too much!)
- Trust your intuition. If possible, schedule a time to chat with your potential counselor for 10 or 15 minutes on the telephone. Many counselors will provide a free 15 minute phone consultation to help you determine if it is a good match. If you don't feel comfortable over the phone, you might want to just keep researching. Same guys for the first session. Your first counseling session may be stressful, emotional, and a little scary- that is normal. But, if you get a BAD feeling, seek out a different counselor. Remember: Choosing a counselor is a very personal process- if it doesn't feel like a good match- it isn't a judgment on your therapist- it is just reality.
- Discuss the insurance process and the pros and cons of using insurance. Insurance can be fabulous! However, it is important to be fully aware of the potential impact of its use. In addition, your counselor can never be the expert on your insurance company. Every company has a number on the back of their card. They can share information about: Does my insurance cover relationship counseling? Do I have a deductible for mental health treatment? What percentage is reimbursed? What percentage is reimbursed if I find the perfect therapist who isn't on the panel list?
I hope that this list helps you to be more prepared and informed so that you can find the perfect counselor for you when you need support.
Remember: Seeking support does not make you crazy! Not seeking support when you know you need it will make you go crazy!
Until next time, Miranda Palmer, LMFT providing exceptional counseling in Modesto, CA to individuals and couples who want to be happy again!