Top Tips to Help Choose a Therapist or Counselor

So, you’ve decided to look into therapy or counseling for yourself or a loved one, but you have some questions. Maybe you’re unsure what to expect at your first session. Perhaps you’re nervous about sharing your struggles with someone who’s not a friend or family member. Maybe you don’t even know where to begin with finding a therapist or counselor, much less how to choose someone who’s the best fit for your particular needs. Here are some tips that may help as you explore your options.

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Find the Right “Fit”
Finding a therapist or counselor who’s right for you can take some time, but it’s important to locate someone with whom you can have a positive relationship. After all, you’re more likely to open up and trust someone you like as a person, and the same is true of a therapist or counselor. Try to speak with a prospective therapist or counselor before you make an initial appointment. This will give you a chance to get a feel for the person’s personality and whether or not they might be someone you’d feel comfortable with. If you are unable to speak in-person before scheduling, be sure to use your first appointment to evaluate whether or not she/he is a good fit. Don’t feel like you need to commit to the first provider you see. There’s nothing wrong with evaluating several providers before choosing the one who’s right for you.

Assess Experience
Perhaps you’ve seen a therapist or counselor in the past, or maybe you’re looking to visit one for the first time. Whatever the situation, try to determine whether or not a therapist or counselor has experience addressing specific needs like yours. Ask how they’ve been able to help people with needs like yours in the past. If you’re struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), or fears or phobias, ask about their experience with such symptoms and how they’ve been able to help others. Also look for experience with the types of counseling or therapy you’re interested in, for example, group therapy, couples counseling, or family counseling. Many practitioners include information like this on their websites, and you may also be able to get a sense of their experience helping people by looking at reviews and testimonials.

Reviews and Testimonials
There are many sources of information available to help you evaluate a therapist or counselor. Chances are good that many people in your social circle have also seen a therapist or counselor. If you’re comfortable doing so, ask a trusted friend or family member for a recommendation. If you’d prefer your research to be more anonymous, online services such as Google, Yelp, Zocdoc, WebMD, and Psychology Today allow you to read about other clients’ experiences. Business ratings and reviews may also be available through the Better Business Bureau. Finally, ask the therapist or counselor you’re considering if she/he can provide any patient testimonials.

Education, Certifications, and Licenses
It’s important to find a reputable provider. When doing so, it can help to look at the person’s educational background and certifications they’ve earned. Does the provider have formal education from an accredited school? Have they earned their mental health or counseling certifications from a recognized accrediting organization? Do they have a current license to practice?

Convenience is Key
Convenience is key when it comes to getting the care you need. Fortunately, there are many options available. Perhaps you’d prefer to see a therapist or counselor in person. If so, be sure to look for someone with a location and hours that fit your lifestyle. If you’re comfortable with technology, many providers are now seeing clients via telehealth technology, which offers the convenience of therapy or counseling from the comfort of your home, office, or other location. Telehealth also offers the benefits of allowing you to practice social distancing and eliminates the need to travel or sit in a waiting room with other patients who may be sick. Many providers offer both telehealth and in-person counseling, allowing you to choose the option that’s best for you given your schedule and lifestyle.

The reality is that there is a financial cost for counseling or therapy, but don’t let this be a barrier to seeking and receiving the help that you need. Many counselors and therapists participate with a wide variety of health insurance plans, so you’ll likely have many options to choose from. Be sure to check with your plan to see if the provider you’re considering is in-network to help reduce your out-of-pocket costs. Also, be sure to determine what your financial responsibility will be due to your deductible and any applicable co-pays and/or co-insurance. If in doubt, call your insurance plan and ask them to help you determine this. Also, be sure to ask if your health insurance plan requires you to obtain pre-authorization for behavioral health services like therapy or counseling. If you are uninsured, ask a therapist or counselor’s office for recommendations on low or no-cost resources that may be available to help you.

We’re Here to Help!
If you’re considering one of our mental health therapists or counselors, please don’t hesitate to call us with any questions you may have. We’re happy to provide you with information to help you determine if one of our therapists or counselors is right for you.