More people than ever are seeking mental health treatment.
While therapy used to be a taboo subject, it’s now widely accepted. The subject doesn’t carry the stigma that it’s used to, and people are now much more open to discussing their problems with mental health professionals.
If you’re looking to try it for yourself, it’s important that you find the right one. Our handy guide on how to find a good counselor will tell you how to do that.
10 Tips for How to Find a Good Counselor
Make sure you tick these boxes before starting any therapy program.
1. Determine Your Needs
The best place to start is with yourself.
What are you looking for? Are your issues related to abusive relationships, trauma, compulsions, stress, depression, or something completely different? If you have a rough idea, you can start to narrow things down.
You don’t need to have a crystal clear idea of the root of your problems. In fact, it will be your counselor’s job to do find that out. However, if you can pinpoint a particular area of need, it will make things easier.
That way, you’ll be able to do a more specific search.
2. Check their Credentials
One of the trickiest things about finding a therapist is sorting through all of the jargon.
When you’re browsing through your options, you’re bound to come across lots of different titles. As well as therapists, you’ll see counselors, social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists. Then, there are PhDs, MDs, PsyDs, and MSs, to mention just a few.
Familiarize yourself with the meanings of these terms and the differences between them. Then, you can determine which one is best suited to your needs.
Find out what qualifications they have, which courses they took, and where they went to school. Most counselors should have these details listed online. If you can’t find them, give them a call to ask them.
3. Read Reviews
Before committing to a therapist, search online for some reviews or testimonials.
Read through what their previous clients have to say about them. This will give you an idea of the quality of service they provide.
Remember, not all reviews are genuine, and you can’t believe everything you read online. Arm yourself with the knowledge of how to spot fake reviews to avoid being duped.
4. Ask Around
Do you have any friends, family members or coworkers who have been to therapy? If so, it’s worth asking if they can recommend you a therapist.
You don’t have to disclose any detail when asking for therapy tips. It’s enough to just tell people that you’re looking to consult with a therapist and need some advice.
If you’re comfortable with asking people you know about their experiences with counseling, see what they have to say. They may be able to point you in the right direction. They may also save you some hassle by telling you to steer clear of places or people they didn’t like.
Therapy is a personal, individualized service, and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for you. However, advice from people you know can still be very valuable. Keep it in mind during your search.
5. Talk to Your Insurance Company
If you have health insurance, it’s essential that you talk with your provider.
If you don’t know where to start, they’re likely to have a list of approved counselors they can refer you to. If you’ve already found one you like, you’ll have to check that they’re approved by your insurance company before you being your therapy.
6. Make a Phone Call
You can always call a potential counselor to ask them any questions you may have.
This is a great opportunity to verify the information you’ve found elsewhere and put any concerns you have to rest.
You can also ask them if they have any experience in your particular area of need. If they do, they can give you an idea of how they’ll treat you. If they don’t, it’s best to cross them off your list.
7. Check their License
It’s absolutely essential that you look for a licensed professional.
Not every mental healthcare provider has a license, and some positions don’t require them. If someone doesn’t have one, you can’t be sure about the quality of their training.
Simply stating that they’re licensed isn’t enough. For extra peace of mind, you can look the license up yourself. Check your state licensing board to find out.
When you do, you’ll also be able to see if there are any infractions.
8. Find Out What Kind of Therapy they Provide
Getting counseling doesn’t just mean sitting on a couch and talking about your problems while someone listens and takes notes.
There are tons of different types of therapy, including group therapy, individual therapy, hypnotherapy, career coaching, family counseling, and many more. Some options will be short-term, while others will require a long-term commitment.
Think about what kind of therapy you’d like to have before making a decision. If you’re not sure, don’t worry. Just make sure you know what you’re getting into before you sign up.
Go here to see an example explanation of how one Denver clinic approaches their treatments.
9. Follow Your Gut
Sometimes, you can’t put your finger on why a particular counselor doesn’t work for you.
Perhaps your personalities aren’t a good match and you don’t get along. Perhaps they have certain behaviors that make you feel uncomfortable. Perhaps you have no idea why, but things just aren’t working out.
Trust your instincts. If it doesn’t feel right, move on.
10. Shop Around
Finding the right therapist isn’t easy, and you may have to go through several different ones before you find someone you feel truly comfortable with.
In the meantime, you don’t have to feel obligated to stick with a therapist who isn’t a good fit for you.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get it right the first time. Otherwise, you could end up wasting time and money on therapy that doesn’t help you. It’s OK to change your mind and look elsewhere if you need to.
Talk to a Specialist
Now that you know how to find a good counselor, the next step is to get out there and start searching.
When you do, keep in mind that most of them will have a specific area of expertise. If you’re looking for help with your marriage problems, find someone who already has years of experience in the field.
For more information, read our post on how to find the right family psychologist to save your marriage.