Choosing A Counselor
One of the questions I frequently encounter from family and friends is how to find a counselor that is right for me (yes, we are ethically bound to refer our family and friends to other counselors). If you are reading this, chances are you are considering counseling and perhaps wondering how I may be able to help you with the challenges you are currently facing. There are few things to consider:
Referral is always a good place to start. If you know someone that knows a counselor, it seems to add a layer of comfort and trust already! However, if you are not using referral and prefer to do your own research, then credentials, specialty, experience and fit may be the most important factors to consider.
While credentials, specialty, and experience may be relatively easy to discern, the question of fit may be a bit trickier. Nonetheless, it is likely the most important factor in choosing a counselor. Why? An overwhelming amount of research has shown that regardless of training, modality, and experience, the most significant contributor to therapeutic effectiveness is the quality of the relationship. This may entail the questions such as “Do I trust this counselor?” “Is the counselor able to understand and support me?” “Do I feel comfortable enough to tell the counselor my deepest despair?” and perhaps others.
There is no easy way to find all of the answers to your questions except to step in and try it. Although the first impression is important, it can take 2-4 sessions to get to know each other and then decide. After all, you are choosing a partner in your emotional and mental health journey. There is a good chance that this will become one of the most important relationships that will accompany you through the peaks and valleys of your life. Therefore, choose wisely and don’t settle.