The range of mental health services available in 20th century America is broader than at any time or place in history. This is a good thing because it means that different individuals have access to the personalized help they need. However, it does come with a downside. When we go to the supermarket and find two dozen different brands of peanut butter, all advertising themselves as delicious and nutritious, we get the feeling of having too much choice. Instead of feeling empowered, we feel overwhelmed and often end up just picking one at random. The same thing goes for a therapist.
Choosing the right counselor, however, is a very important decision. Your choice could be the difference between leading a happy life, achieving your goals, and mending your relationship or not.
Here are five useful tools to the help you in choosing the right counselor or therapist for you.
1) The right fit
There’s no such thing as the perfect therapist for everyone. What you should look for is one who fits well with you. If you find that a counselor makes you feel safe, supported, and ready to open up, then that’s a good sign. Ask yourself if you feel a personal connection with the therapist.
Whether a therapist is the right fit for you depends on your unique personality. However, it’s possible to list some minimum conditions. Look for a counselor who is warm, open, actively listens and demonstrates empathy. If you need a couples therapist, ensure he or she acts as a neutral party and does not take sides. Couples therapy is always about exploring the individual needs of both partners, never about helping one side against the other.
The proliferation of therapists allows for division of labor. Some therapists specialize in eating disorders, others in anxiety, others in addiction. Look for a counselor who specializes in your problems and your goals.
3) Progress monitoring
A good therapist wants to help you get better, not keep you in therapy forever. Look for a counselor who is proactive about measuring progress and taking feedback. Ask a prospective therapist how he or she knows if his or her approach is working successfully.
4) Between-session support
Even if you had all the money in the world, you are not going to spend more than a tiny fraction of your week on the therapist’s couch. Look for a therapist who gives homework between sessions to help you keep making progress. Also, ask whether they are open to communication (within reasonable limits) outside of your scheduled hour, for encouragement and advice.
Unfortunately, every profession has its bad apples. An unethical therapist, however, can do a great deal of damage. Look for a therapist with a relevant, up to date license. It’s also a good idea to look at reviews. Everything on the internet should be taken with a pinch of salt, but they are at least useful in flagging up malpractice. When starting out with a counselor, if something makes you feel uncomfortable or suspicious, then don’t continue.
Remember that choosing the right therapist or counselor for you means not letting anyone dictate your options for you, including your insurance company. Choosing an in-network provider who is not the right fit may seem like a good way to save money, but it might be a case of ‘buy cheap, buy twice’. Put your mental health first and choose the therapist who can best help you.
For warm, engaged and goal focused counseling in Cape Coral, FL, contact me today by phone or by filling in the contact form.Please share this post!