With a splotchy red face and tears dripping down my cheeks, I had just shared intimate details of my life. An hour later, having used lots of tissue and now less money in my purse I wasn’t going back. The therapist was competent and reputable. But the chemistry wasn’t there for me. It’s important to know how to find the right counselor before your first counseling appointment.Before you bare your soul to a counselor, it's important to find the right fit for you. Click To Tweet
Some clients feel cheated paying counseling fees at their first session if it’s not a good fit.
Here’s things to consider before you hire your mental health counselor or relationship therapist. Some may be more important to you than others. These items will help you get clarity for the therapist that’s right for you.
Do your research before contacting a licensed professional counselor.
Of course, it’s always helpful to get recommendations from your friends, family, or doctor. But do your own research as well. What may be a good fit for your sister’s marriage, may not be a good fit for yours. Each individual and relationship is different.
Many therapists advertise on Psychology Today, Theravive, or other counseling platforms. Start with a google search in your area. If you’re looking for marriage counseling, just type in marriage counseling in or near your city.
- Read counselors profiles, specialties, and blog posts. Some even have introductory videos.
- Find out how long they’ve been in practice.
- Discover whether they’re “general practitioners” or if they specialize.
Make an initial connection with a counselor through their online presence or profile.
If you’re just too anxious to make that initial phone call, send a short email. You can say something like this:
I’m interested in counseling. Do you offer free consultations?
Or you can say this:
I’m interested in counseling. Would you please call me at (your phone number) on Monday afternoon? I have a few questions to ask.
Don’t assume you’re obligated to schedule a counseling appointment with that first connection by phone or email. It’s OK to shop around.
Here’s things to consider at a first encounter with a counselor:
- How long does it take to receive an email reply? You should hear back within 24 hours.
- The counselor may not offer free office consultations, but may spend 15 minutes on the phone with you. If so, pay attention to how you feel on the phone with them.
- Do they sound rushed?
- Is their voice warm and inviting?
- Is it fast or slow?
- Abrupt or calm?
Some counselors choose not to have contact with clients before meeting them at their first appointments. Their assistants may be the only initial connection. Decide if that’s acceptable to you. You are the one who decides what’s best for you. Your preferences matter.
It’s proper and necessary to interview two or three before hiring the right counselor for you.
Whether you’re choosing a medical doctor, a psychiatrist, or a mental health therapist, you’re the one doing the hiring for their expertise. Just as you would hire a contractor or mechanic, mental health professionals are providing you services.
View yourself as a client or patient who is making an informed choice. It’s easy to be intimidated by a person’s title or initials after their name. You are just as important as your provider. They just have issues you don’t know about. We are all human beings worthy of respect, dignity and worth.
Avoid anyone who makes you feel “less than.” Whether you’re struggling with substance addiction or a mood disorder, you’re no less than the doctor or therapist who is treating you.
Don’t leave your first counseling appointment feeling cheated. Save your tears for the right one.