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Tips for Choosing a Counselor

By Lynn Larkin MSW, ACSW

Choosing a counselor is an important decision and it is essential to find someone with whom you are compatible. Remember that you are the consumer and it is valuable to be an active participant in choosing the most suitable counselor for your needs. It is important to gather information and then trust yourself to make the choice that feels right. If you are searching for a counselor, you may want to interview more than one person before making your choice. Often there is a charge for this consultation, although some counselors may answer questions over the phone to help you make your decision. Listed below are some questions that you may find useful in interviewing potential therapists. You may have other questions depending on your own needs or belief system.

QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN CHOOSING A COUNSELOR:

What is your approach to therapy? (The counselor should be able to explain this to you in easy-to-understand, non-technical terms.)

Do you have an area of specialization?

What education do you have? (The type of education is usually not that important, but a masters degree or higher usually indicates professional training and supervision in the counseling field.)

Do you have additional training/certification? (This is especially important if you are looking for specialized techniques such as EMDR, Hypnosis, NLP.)

Are you certified or registered by the State? (Certification indicates advanced training and supervision.)

What experience do you have working with ..(whatever you are seeking help for)?

You may also want to ask questions pertaining to the counselor's values, biases, or attitudes that may affect your counseling. For example: Are you open to addressing issues of spirituality? What is your attitude towards gays and lesbians? Abortion? Non-traditional living arrangements? 

What are your fees and what insurance do you take (if appropriate to your situation)? (Remember that therapy is an investment in yourself and a lower fee might not always be the best indicator of whether you should choose that therapist.)

EVALUATING PROSPECTIVE COUNSELORS:

After you have spoken with the counselor, you may want to take some time to evaluate your feelings about the interview. Here are some questions to help guide your reflection:

What feelings did I notice when I was talking to her/him?

Did I feel respected?

Did I feel heard and understood?

What would it feel like to extend my trust to this therapist?

What did I like or dislike about talking to her/him?

It is your decision whether this is someone you would like to trust as your counselor. You may feel somewhat anxious about entering therapy, but you should feel a certain level of comfort and trust that the person can help you. You should feel free to discuss any reservations with the counselor and if these continue you may want to interview someone else to see if you can find a better fit for you.

Lynn Larkin MSW, ACSW (www.transformationaltherapy.com)

 

 

 

 

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