Been thinking counseling might be a good idea? (If you’re wondering about it, your answer’s yes.) Don’t pick up your phone to set an appointment. Not just yet anyway. Pay close attention to these 7 steps in choosing who is right for you.

  1. First, think carefully about what you want to accomplish through therapy. Take time to learn about the different types of therapy so you can find options that would work best for you.
  2. Next, determine what you can afford and how you’ll pay for it. Maybe your company has an employee assistance program (EAP) that includes mental health services (but be sure you find out what can and cannot be disclosed to your employer). Some health insurance policies will provide limited coverage for therapy, but your provider will have to submit a diagnosis for approval. If your insurance won’t cover it or your deductibles are high, self-paying may be your only option. (more
  3. Next, look at what’s available in your area based on your options. For example, an insurance plan might cover therapy from only a small group of providers, so you may want to limit your search to them. Whether you search online or through an insurer’s directory, pay close attention to each therapist’s professional credentials, and look for someone who specializes in the area where you’re seeking help. If you belong to some type of support group, other members may be able to identify good choices.
  4. A therapist isn’t someone with all the answers, but the best can guide you to the questions you should be asking yourself. You may have some difficult conversations, so you’ll want to be certain you’re comfortable doing both with them in the room. Things like age, their stage of life, what they’ve done before, and what they believe are all important. You’ll want to trust them.
  5. Ask for a consult to learn about the therapist. These are some good questions to ask:
  • Why did you become a therapist?
  • Are you licensed and where were you educated?
  • How many years have you been practicing as a therapist?
  • What are your areas of expertise?
  • Do you have experience working with people in similar situations?
  • Tell me more about your style/approach.
  • How long do you think we’ll work together?
  • How often will we meet?
  • Have you ever been in therapy?
  • What is your faith background?
  • What makes me a good fit for you?
  1. Pay attention to how you’re feeling during your conversation with the therapist. Do they listen to and consider what you say, or impatiently cut you off? Is your body feeling comfortable, or are you just as tense as you were before you walked in? Are you being seen, heard, and respected, or are they minimizing or brushing aside your concerns? By the way, were they late? If the therapist doesn’t respect the value of your time, how much respect do you think they’ll have for you?
  2. Finding a therapist isn’t always a one-and-done situation. It takes a handful of sessions for you and your counselor to get to know each other. You remember how that one person seemed really interesting on your first date, but you couldn’t wait for the third and last to end? If it just isn’t working for you, it’s okay to say so and look elsewhere. Therapists understand. People don’t always mesh well. We hope you’ll find the perfect therapist who can help you make the most of your life.

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