More than ever, improving your mental health is important. Eating better, getting sleep, improving your fitness, and practicing mindfulness are some ways for you to do it, but speaking to a counselor is still the number one way for you to get help.
There is no shame in talking to a counselor if you feel depressed, need life advice, or you just need to speak to someone. With that said, it’s important for you to to pick the right counselor. In this post, we have 10 tips to help connect you to the ideal counselor.
1. What Type of Counselor Do You Need?
The term “Counselor can describe a wide variety of people. A school counselor can help assist you in your educational journey. A career counselor helps you figure out which job is right for you. Meanwhile, a drug counselor can help you recover from addiction.
If you are having relationship or family issues, there are counselors who specialize in that. If you’ve lost a loved one, a grief counselor can help. And finally, a general counselor can assist you if your issue doesn’t focus on one single problem in life.
Knowing which counselor is the right fit for your problem can help. Speaking of fit…
2. Know The Fit
Counselors are like puzzle pieces. They go well with some people, but for others, they just aren’t the perfect fit. This isn’t to say that a counselor who isn’t the right fit is bad, but it’s just that they aren’t meant for you.
When choosing the right fit, you may want to consider their age and gender. Maybe you want a therapist who is older and like a parental figure. Perhaps you want someone younger who can offer you some fresh ideas. Both are valid options. You also need to consider their gender. Do you want a man’s perspective? A woman’s? Does gender not matter? That’s something else to consider as well.
3. How Experienced Are They In Helping?
Another consideration you should make when you are choosing a therapist how experienced they are. As we said in the previous step, choosing a younger counselor is valid. However, you do need to look for someone who has experience in treating your particular problem. If they have had years of experience helping those who are dealing with anxiety or stress, and that’s what you need, great. However, if they have little experience in your particular problem, then you may want to reconsider.
Look at a counselor’s credentials if you want to make sure they’re the best fit for your situation.
4. More About Credentials
Unlike a therapist, a counselor is a less protected title. However, it does make sense that you may want someone who has more credentials. You may want to look for someone who has an education from a school that is accredited. You may want to see if any counseling organization has recognized them. Do they have a license, too?
A good counselor will have all these credentials available for you to read. Otherwise, you may be speaking to a quack. This isn’t to say that people who don’t have credentials can’t offer good advice, but this does mean they may not have had the experience and training most will expect from a counselor.
5. Check Out the Reviews
When you’re looking at an experienced counselor, they naturally have to have plenty of reviews attached to their profession. Google Reviews, WebMD, and Psychology Today are just some examples. You can comb through the reviews and see what others are saying.
No therapist is perfect, and there is a chance they may have one or two bad reviews from people who weren’t the best fit, but a good counselor should have overwhelmingly positive reviews. If you look at the therapist’s page and see nothing but one-star reviews, you may want to reconsider.
Besides reviews, look for testimonials. If your friends or family have had the therapist, see what they have to say.
6. How Much Do They Charge?
Most of us are living in a world where we are counting every dollar we have. That’s why it makes sense that you would want someone who charges an amount that is reasonable for you.
Many counselors charge per session, and it can take several sessions before you see any improvement. That’s why it makes sense to look for a counselor who can cut you a deal. Some counselors work pro bono, meaning they will charge you nothing for the good of the people. Others may have a sliding scale system, charging you less if you make less money and vice versa.
Finally, some will take insurance, which will cut the costs in half or completely. That’s another thing to consider as well.
7. Have an Initial Consultation
If you have found a counselor who is right for you, you may want to call them for a consultation. You can ask any questions you may have and get an idea of who you are speaking to. This can help you determine whether or not the counselor is a good fit for you, or if you may want to look elsewhere. It can all depend.
When choosing a counselor, it’s also important for you to make sure that your counselor can work with your schedule. Some counselors only work weekdays during certain times, which can be a challenge. Meanwhile, other counselors are night owls or work other odd days or hours.
Seeing a counselor is a commitment. You should be able to make it to each session unless an emergency happens. If you have a counselor whose schedule makes it difficult to attend, there is no shame in considering looking elsewhere.
9. Red Flags
The search for the best counselor doesn’t just end when you’ve selected someone. It’s also important for you to pay attention during the session to avoid any red flags. Red flags can tell you whether or not a counselor will work for you.
Red flags can differ depending on person to person, but here are several common red flags.
- The therapist doesn’t seem to respect your time. They may show up late or try to rush you when the time is almost up. A good counselor wants results, not time.
- The counselor doesn’t seem to respect any boundaries. A good counselor will ask before doing anything that may make you uncomfortable.
- They don’t want to change their style if it’s not working for you. A good counselor recognizes that no single approach works for everyone, and there may be several approaches that you should be able to take if you want to succeed.
- Finally, if you just feel it’s not working, there’s no reason to go on. Counselors who are skilled will recommend you alternative people you should consider.
With that said, counselors are not magic. You do need to put the effort in and listen to the advice your counselor gives you and see if it improves your life.
10. Also, Do They Offer Online Counseling?
With COVID-19, many counselors are turning to telehealth services. This can help you if you do not want to meet face-to-face, or if you cannot leave your home. Online counseling uses video chat as well as other methods of communication, to speak to a counselor.
It can be convenient and safe, and many are offering it. If there are none in your area who are, you can visit https://www.betterhelp.com/ to connect to an online counselor near you.
Right now, we need counseling more than ever. With that said, it’s important for you to pick the best counselor for your situation. By doing a careful selection, you can pick the right counselor for you. Good luck.
Marie Miguel Biography
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.