You’ve made the decision to find a Counselor– But whats next?

How do you find a therapist? It seems cold and impersonal to just pick a name off a list provided by the insurance company.  What about asking friends or family? Maybe…but what if I’m not ready to share what’s bothering me with people yet? The internet! You can find anything on Google, right?! But now there are so many! Counselors, therapists, social workers…how do I know which one is right for me?

Finding the right therapist can challenging and sometimes frustrating process, and it’s hard to know exactly where to begin with such a big decision. Especially when you’re struggling through an emotional low point and fighting feelings of anxiety, depression or both.

It’s like searching for a needle in a haystack unless you know what to look for. So here are five guidelines to point you in the right direction:

 

Ask Someone you Trust. 

amily and friends are often a great resource and can give you a personal recommendation to a counselor or therapist they have had a good experience with. If you’re not comfortable sharing with people personally connected to you, try reaching out to your family physician or primary care provider. Doctors often build relationships with mental health clinicians they trust to be able to comprehensively care for patients (and vice versa) and can give you quality recommendations.

 

Therapist, Counselor or Social Worker? Know the Difference.

You know your goals for therapy best and each of these professionals has a difference emphasis is their training. In WA state therapists most often refers to a Marriage and Family Therapist who has extensive training in working with individuals, couples and families. Counselors or Mental Health Counselors, are typically more focused on working with individuals only but can do additional training to work with couples and families. Social Workers also work heavily with individuals and often have a short term, solution focused approach to their work.


Use the Internet to your Advantage

 The number of results on a basic search can be overwhelming, but when you look in the right place you can also get great information. Use the licensing board website to check for years of experience and good standing with the state. Trust verified listings on websites like Psychology Today and Good Therapy who check for the legitimacy of providers. 

 

Ask for a Consultation

Many counselors will do a free phone consultation before setting up your actual first appointment. Take advantage of this offering and ask questions about years of experience and their familiarity with working with clients in your situation. This is a great opportunity to get a first impression!


Trust your Gut!

Most important of all is to trust your intuition. Research has shown repeatedly that the #1 factor is whether or not a client improves as a result of therapy is based on how strong of a relationship they build with their therapist. If it doesn’t feel right after a couple of sessions, keep looking. Finding the right therapist can be a little bit like dating, trial and error until you meet a match who will support you for years to come.

Need some help talking through your decision? We are here to help answer your questions and help match you with a Counselor for your needs. Please don’t hesitate to ask. Counselors and therapists are ready to be your support and guide.

-COLLEEN HILTON, MA, LMFT