What should I consider when selecting a counselor?
Finding a therapist can seem daunting, especially because no two therapists are the same. However, selecting the right therapist for your needs and goals will be important. In addition, asking the right questions can assist you in selecting someone you can work with to build the essential foundation of trust and create a safe space. Here are some things to consider when making a selection:
- Experience: What specialized treatment or therapeutic protocols can the counselor provide?
- Education: What is the counselor’s academic background or training?
- Professional Associations: Is the counselor affiliated with any professional associations (American Counseling Association, Washington Mental Health Counselors Association, etc)?
- Costs: What are the fees? Does the counselor take insurance? If not, can I receive a detailed bill that I can submit to my health insurance for reimbursement?
- Location: Are appointments conducted in-person or via teletherapy/telehealth?
Remember, counselors expect to be asked these crucial questions to ensure a positive therapeutic alliance is built from the beginning. So, don’t be afraid to ask!
I’m used to handling things on my own. Does going to therapy mean I’m weak?
No, not at all. We all need help or assistance from time to time and asking for help and reaching out to someone is an act of courage. Collaborating with a counselor can help you to identify and explore your individual strengths, reduce problematic relationships and implement alternative behavioral choices.
I have supportive family and friends that I talk with, so how will talking with a counselor be different?
While having supportive friends or family is helpful, counselors have either a Master’s or a Doctorate and have been professionally licensed and trained in a variety of therapeutic skills. Counselors can assist you with acquiring new skills, obtaining alternate perspectives, and listening without judgement. Most importantly, counseling sessions are confidential and counselors are required to abide by a strict code of ethics
I am taking medication, so won’t that suffice?
Quite often, medication can be a valuable and an effective treatment option but it doesn’t solve all the issues. Therefore, counseling in conjunction with the medication is often needed and can be quite helpful.
What can I expect in the counseling session?
The first session is an opportunity for the counselor to learn more about you and for you to learn more about your counselor. You will be asked various questions and it will be important for the counselor to gain an understanding of your unique goals so they can tailor their therapeutic approach to each client’s specific needs. Subsequent counseling sessions will be used to help each client work towards those goals.
What kind of progress can I expect and how long will it take?
Everyone’s circumstances are unique to them and the length to accomplish your goals depend on your desire for personal development, your commitment, and the factors that initially motivated you to seek counseling. Remember, achieving self-awareness and implementing change can take time and great effort, so your active participation and dedication will be crucial to your success. Breakthroughs and results are encouraging and meaningful if you stick with it!