Updated: Jun 27
Making a decision to go to counseling is one of the best decisions you can make in life. I live by the mantra that everyone needs to be on someone’s couch. In other words, everyone needs a counselor. Why? Well first and foremost, we all need a safe place to share what is on our hearts. A place where we won’t be judged and we won’t have to fear our business being spread out on the streets. And even beyond that, there are certain challenges that we face in life that we need the support of a trained professional to help us process, heal, and move forward in a healthy way.
Your counselor is going to play a very critical role in your overall mental health and well-being. With that being said, it is important that you take the time to find someone who you can be with for the long-run. This process is not always easy. Similar to finding a spouse, there are so many people in the world that you choose from. Whether you meet someone online or set up on a blind date by a friend, you wouldn’t just jump straight into a marriage on the first date (unless you are on one of those drama filled reality TV shows). You would spend some time dating, getting to know that person, to determine if this is a relationship worth exploring. The same thing is true when picking a good counselor. Whether you search for a counselor online or are referred to a counselor by a friend, you need to spend some time in the “dating phase” to collect data, assess comfort level and determine if they are a good fit. Here are my top four tips to help you avoid some pitfalls on your search, so you can be that much closer to finding your counseling match.
Step 1: Do your pre-work.
Before beginning your search, it is important for you to know what you desire in a counseling relationship. Take some time to write down what you are searching for in a counselor, and use what you determine as a reference point in your search. There are several questions that you want to consider.
Do you want a counselor that shares the same gender or cultural background as you?
Do you want someone who will approach counseling from a faith perspective?
What do you want to get out of your counseling experience?
Do you want a counselor who primarily listens or a counselor who engages you in dialogue?
Are there certain issues that are dominant in your life that you want to make sure your counselor has experience addressing?
Do you need to make sure that your counselor takes your insurance?
Do you want to meet with your counselor virtually or in person?
By answering these questions in advance, you can avoid wasting your time with counselors who won’t match these basic requirements.
Step 2: Read Through the Counselor’s Bio and Website
Before scheduling your initial consultation, you can find out some preliminary information by reading a counselor’s bio. Check to see if they have some speciality areas that are important to you, and see if you can get a glimpse of their personality and their approach to counseling from their bio. If a counselor has a website, fully explore it to learn about their approach and skillset, and if you need your counselor to take your insurance, check to see what providers they take. If they meet your basic requirements, then it's time to go to the next phase of the selection process.
Step 3: Free Consultation
Generally speaking, most counseling companies will offer you a free consultation. This is your opportunity to ask additional questions that you are unable to gather from their website. Have your list from Step 1 handy when scheduling this meeting. Be clear about what you want. This is the perfect opportunity to learn more about the counselor’s style and approach. You might go through this step a few times with potential counselors. After you narrow down your top candidates, ask God to give you discernment regarding who to move forward with, and schedule your initial session with your top choice.
Step 4: Remember This Doesn’t Have to Be Forever
It’s important to remember, even if you schedule an initial appointment with a counselor, it doesn’t mean you have to stick with them for life. It usually takes a few sessions to build rapport and to really get a sense of if you vibe well with them. And if you determine that someone is not suitable for you after a few sessions, move on. No hard feelings. Get back to the search until you find the right one. Trust me, you will eventually come across someone who is the perfect fit for you. If you are looking for a Christian counselor to help you on your healing journey, we would love for you to consider checking out our team at Faith on the Journey. You can check out our team’s bio’s and our approach by visiting faithonthejourney.org/counseling