Once the decision to obtain counseling is made the next step is to find the right therapist.
There are many mental health professionals listed in phone directories and on insurance provider lists but there are a few pointers to also consider.
It is vitally important that there be a connection between the client and counselor. That bond paves the way for ongoing trust and vulnerability required to move ahead in therapy.
For that reason I recommend you check with friends and associates about counselors they know of or have seen. Most folks have had some type of interaction with counselors and are not shy about sharing their opinion (good OR bad).
Evaluate what is most important to you:
*Do you require someone who is spiritually based or secular?
*Male or female?
*Someone who has lived in your geographical area for a while or does that make no difference to you?
*Do you require a therapist with a wall full of diplomas and certificates or someone who comes with high recommendations but few documents to prove education?
*What about the age of the therapist? I have had many clients come to me initially because I’m older and there is an implication that with age comes wisdom.
*Family values? Does it matter to you if the therapist is married and has kids? What if the counselor is single or has been widowed or divorced? Would that hinder your ability to trust them?
There is nothing wrong with consulting several counselors before deciding on one. I tell new clients at the first appointment that I consider it my ‘audition’ and that they have to decide if they get a good vibe from me. I assure them that there are other good therapists available and I’m not their only choice; what’s important to me is that they get the help they need.
In the St. Louis area, where I’m based, many churches have professional counseling offices open not only to church members/attenders but also the community. In my office we are eager to help the person without an agenda of adding to our church member list.
Above all, persevere. This is about you and your need for help. Finding a therapist you can trust and relate to will be the beginning of a new life for you.
Take it seriously. Consider it just the first of many positive decisions you will make to improve the quality of your life.