5 Tips on Finding the Best Counselor for You

Today we’re going to talk about: 5 Tips on Finding the Best Counselor for You

If you’ve never been to a counselor you might imagine therapy to be a little like the movies. Enter a middle-aged doctor with distinguished salt-and-pepper hair who sits in a chair with a notebook opposite the patient lying prostrate on a leather couch.

“Tell me why you hate your mother.”

Let me assure you, it’s far less dramatic. I’ve been to marriage counseling, personal counseling and counseling with my kids. I’ve yet to see a leather couch.

You might have even tried therapy before and had a bad experience, I’ve been there too. It can be difficult to find a good fit for you. The most important thing is: don’t give up on your own mental health or that of your family!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed today, I’m going to give you 5 Tips on Finding the Best Counselor for You

Tip #1:

ID the titles and acronyms

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW or LSW): 

Training for social workers can vary but most of the time social workers have master’s degrees in social work or in another related field of study. One of the best counselors I know is LCSW. You can usually find out more about their training and background on their websites.

Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) or Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC): 

These individuals have achieved a master’s degree in counseling or psychology or a master’s in a related field. They’re trained to work with individuals, families, and groups in treating mental, behavioral, and emotional problems and disorders.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT):

These are professionals who hold an MA or an MS in marriage and family therapy, and whose education has focused on relational issues and family structure. This can include family, work, friends or school relationships – any relationship that can help you create resilience and support.

If a license ends in an “A” then the therapist is still in the process of getting the full licensing, and is continuing under the supervision of another therapist.

Psychologist (Ph.D. or Psy.D.): 

They are people who have a doctorate and are licensed and certified.  Psychologists are therapists as well as mental health professionals that have specialized training to test for and officially diagnose mental illnesses.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (NP or PMHNP): 

A person with advanced training as a registered nurse trained to provide a wide range of mental health services to patients and families in a variety of settings. They are also able to prescribe medication.

Psychiatrist (M.D.): 

A medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health. They address issues of chemical imbalances in the brain associated with mental illnesses with medication and refer patients to a psychologist for therapy.

Tip #2: 

Check on your health insurance coverage and preferred providers. Counseling can be expensive so you’ll want to find out if you have any way to defer cost.

Tip #3: 

Ask friends, family, and your church for references, or refer to the website below.

Tip #4: 

Cross-reference your preferred providers and gathered recommendations. Do some online research on these counselors.

Tip #5: 

Start phone interviews. You are hiring them!

5 Tips on Finding the Best Counselor for You

Questions to Ask Potential Counselor:

  1. Where did you go to school? What do you specialize in treating? (make sure they are currently licensed with the state and have graduate or even postgraduate training).
  2. How do they work with clients who are people of faith? How do they integrate faith and psychology? Could they give you some examples?
  3. Have you had success in treating the issues for which I am seeking counseling? Can you give me an example? Do you feel comfortable talking with them?
  4. What are your policies for insurance coverage, payment requirements, and possible payment plans or sliding scale options?

Things to Consider

  1. Are they warm and approachable?
  2. Do I need to do an in-person interview?

As the Director of Mental Health for His Heart Foundation, I do all of the above steps for our clients, because we know that in a time of crisis it is often overwhelming to do these things on your own. If you live in the Clark County, WA area, I encourage you to visit our website so that we can make this process easy for you. If you don’t, enlist the help of a friend or family member to walk with you through these steps and take it one day at a time.

Seeking counseling takes courage. No one has all the answers, but the great news is that God has equipped and gifted His children to serve one another in this area, so that we can find healing.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Eph. 6:10

What’s stopping you from seeking counseling? What tips above did you find the most helpful? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Next Steps:

Do you need a counselor? Contact His Heart Foundation for a counseling referral today.

Note: A special thank you to Dr. Bart Fowler of Charis Counseling Associates for consulting with me on this article for accuracy and insight.

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