How do I find a counselor? Finding a counselor can be a daunting task!
Let's recap, so...
You've already tackled the first hurdle of overcoming the negative stigma of counseling
You've realized that, it's ok to ask for help
You're ready to explore your story and do the hard work of healing
But now what?
Ask a Friend: The first and best option is to ask referrals from friends or family. Who doesn't like a personal recommendation? This lets you ask questions about why someone likes a counseling, how counseling has helped them, costs etc. I hate to say it but I've heard so many negative stories about counselors from clients and colleagues alike. Therapy is a sacred place and so I'm passionate about increasing client's awareness about therapy and encouraging them to make informed decisions.
Reviews: If you're not up for asking a friend yet, then check reviews. Now this is a bit tricky with our profession. If a counselor sets boundaries or challenges a client who engages in destructive behaviors, which we should, sometimes clients may act with a great level of defensiveness towards a counselor and take it out on a review. But, this should at least give you an idea if there is a pattern with consistent concerns or if people generally find the therapy warm and helpful.
Read Bios: This option is a little more time consuming but if you're wanting to get a feel for a potential counselor it's always a great idea to google "find a counselor near me" and start looking through counseling websites. Maybe the counselor you're looking at has a intro video or educational videos. Videos give you information about a person that simple text can't. Hey, therapy needs to be a personal fit if you have zero connection with your therapist therapy probably won't very affective.
10-Minute Consult: So you've searched on Google, Bing, Yelp, and Therapy Den and feel like you have some good prospective counselors - great! You're so close. Many counselors offer a 10-minute consult because, we get it - you'll be investing a lot of time and money and want to make sure it's a good fit before your investment into your personal growth. Do not feel bad if you call 5 counselors you shouldn't feel a need to commit if you don't feel a connection.
Why not just use whoever my insurance offers?
There are pros and cons to this. One major pro is that it can be a lot cheaper. However this is where the adage of "you get what you pay for" can be applicable. It has been my experience that generally private pay counselors by personally and professionally have been more impressive. I stress the word can because I have met a couple of therapists I would highly recommend that take insurance. Why? I think it's because as a private pay counselor you have to be good. If you are not, you will not be in business. You can be a mediocre or below average counselor and still get lots of clients if insurance companies give them to you regularly. Plus just because you use private pay counselors doesn't mean you have to pay everything out of pocket. Many counselors help clients get reimbursement from insurance companies via OON benefits and the like - learn more here.