Are You Looking For A Counselor?
People look for counselors for many different reasons. Some have already seen a counselor and are simply looking to “tune-up” the work they have completed. Many have already seen a healthcare professional and received a diagnosis (such as anxiety, depression or ADHD) and are seeking counseling because their healthcare professional recommended it. Others may not yet have a name for their pain but can sense that something is wrong and wonder if a counselor can help.
Are you personally struggling and curious whether a counselor might be able to help? Are you concerned for a loved one’s wellbeing and looking into mental health resources? Whatever your reason for looking for a counselor, finding one offers unique challenges and opportunities.
What To Look For When Choosing A Counselor
Before you can determine how to overcome these barriers, you or your loved one must understand what to look for in a good counselor. After you have found a counselor who meets your criteria then you can go to work overcoming some of the obstacles mentioned above.
In our clinic, it is common for us to tell new clients that finding a good counselor is kind of like dating. While it does happen, it is rare that the first person you go out with ends up being your one true love. You frequently have to date around before you find the right match. It is the same for counselors—you have to find the right fit—and this may mean “firing” a counselor or two until you find the right one. Whoever you are working with needs to be skilled and trained in helping you address whatever problems you wish to solve or change. Good psychotherapy should not just be a time of talking about your feelings (although there is plenty of that), it should be a time of coming to a better understanding of yourself and others, and gaining the skills needed to meet your goals and be well.
If a counselor doesn’t have experience in treating a certain issue, it should make you pause and consider whether they are a fit for your situation. Another important consideration when choosing a counselor is finding one who will honor your healing beliefs while simultaneously maintaining your safety. Some people are adamant that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the only approach that will work for them; others might be firmly against using medications, while others are strongly in favor of them.
Whatever your healing beliefs are, a good counselor will honor those beliefs and, when needed, respectfully note when your beliefs may inhibit your ability to meet your goals. The probability of meeting your counseling goals significantly increases if you feel like your counselor authentically cares for you as an individual. Do not settle for a counselor who is anything other than kind, attentive, understanding, skilled and respectful to you as a person.
Overcoming The Challenges To Finding A Counselor
How to get in to see a counselor when everyone is full
The first thing to do is get on a wait-list. After you have done this, do not be silent. Call once a week to keep yourself on the top of their mind. While it is not always true, it is occasionally the case that the “squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Do not be obnoxious—the office manager can help or hurt your cause—but by all means “squeak” and advocate for yourself. If you are struggling with acute and chronic symptoms, we recommend engaging a counselor in the community so that they can continue to provide treatment as long as it is needed.
How To Find A Counselor Who Specializes in The Issue You Need To Address
First, do not assume that all counselors are the same. While almost all counselors are “generalists” they are still people with unique gifts, favorite topics, talents and experiences that can be useful in addressing different issues. That’s why we recommend that you schedule free consults with counselors to learn more about them and how they might help. Avoid counselors who, for whatever reason, think they know everything—they don’t. No one does! A little bit of humility and compassion in a counselor can go a long way in helping people address issues of all stripes.
How To Get To Your Counselor During The Winter
Transportation during the winter months is a unique challenge and depends on where you live, your financial and relational resources, and the location of your counselor. You can ask friends and family for help getting a ride to your appointment. If you are afraid that this may negatively affect you by risking your confidentiality (most people do not want others to know they are seeing a counselor) then this can be difficult. If you are part of a religious organization, speak to your priest or pastor about your transportation issues. You might also consider using a local shuttle like RPM.
If You Are Considering Counseling Services But Still Have Questions
Concerned what others might think of you if you go to counseling? Counseling is confidential—period. We are committed to maintaining your confidentiality. Remember that there is no shame in seeing a counselor. Some of the most courageous people in the area are those who walk through our doors with the desire to heal.
Will Counseling Really Help?
The outcome of counseling depends on the issues being addressed, how severe they are, how long they have been in play, your readiness to engage in the healing process, and the counselor’s skill in facilitating change. Because each situation is different we encourage you to schedule a free 15-minute consult with one of our counselors so you can meet them and get a better idea of how they might help. You can find a counselor who works for you.
Finding a counselor can be a difficult task during an already difficult time. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental, relational or emotional issues and you are considering counseling, we are happy to provide those services ourselves or refer you to someone who can help. We are not a fit for everyone and that is why we offer a free 15-minute consult to interested clients so they can determine if we meet the criteria mentioned above.