So, you've decided that you'd like to talk with a counselor.
So, how do you find a counselor? That's easy. You can just randomly pick one from the many listings in the local directory or online with a simple google search.
But, how do you find the right counselor for you? Well, that's a little bit more of an investigative process. Here are five tips to get started:
1 - Check on Google for Website Research.
Most therapists have a website for their practice these days. So, you can google "counselor (your town)" and a list of possibilities will pop up. You can read all about the counselors from their websites. Some counselors offer just the basic information on their websites, while others will tell you more about their practice, offer some photos of the office, share their theoretical framework and credentials, and offer helpful links and other information. Some counselors, like me, even offer an online scheduling opportunity so you can book your appointments online. (Perfect for introverts and busy folks!)
2 - Take a Look at Therapist Finder Boards.
There are hubs where counselors offer to list their practice as a resource for consumers. You'll be able to search the directories for your zip code, see a list of counselors who participate in the listing, and read a short description of the counselor and their philosophy. There is often a link for contacting the counselor easily and maybe even a photo. Psychology Today and Good Therapy are examples of these hubs.
3 - Check the Professional Licensing Boards.
Each state offers a listing of counselors who are licensed to practice through the state Department of Medical Quality Assurance. You want to find a counselor who is state licensed. On these lists, you'll be able to verify licensure and check to be sure that the counselor is in compliance with state regulations.
National Board Certification is a bonus. You can see a list of counselors who are nationally certified on the National Board for Certified Counselors site. You may also read a bit about ethics and consumer protection there as well.
4 - Ask Your Friends and Family.
There is nothing better than a personal recommendation from someone you trust. Ask your friends. Ask your neighbors. Ask your family. There's no shame in meeting with a counselor, so there's no shame in asking for referrals. And, besides, most of your friends and family members have probably met with a counselor at some point, so they will know the scoop.
5 - Ask Your Doctor and Other Helping Professionals.
Gynecologists, pediatricians, internal medicine doctors and other medical specialists are able to offer you referrals to counselors in the area that they know and trust. And, don't forget to ask other helping professionals, including hairstylists, massage therapists, Estheticians, and other service oriented folks. They listen to people talk about their lives all day and probably have a great list of counselors they could mention to you.
6 - Trust Yourself.
It has to feel right to you. It's so very important for you to feel a connection to the counselor that you choose. Sometimes you click and sometimes you don't. The value of counseling is so great that I encourage you to not to give up. If you meet with a counselor a couple of times and it doesn't feel right, then it's probably not right. Talk to the counselor about it and ask if the counselor could help you find someone else who might be a better match for you. We all just want to help you feel your best. Don't give up. It's all about you.
Have you found a counselor in any other way? Share in the comment sections below.