Things to Consider When Searching for a Counselor

Let me begin by applauding your awareness that you could benefit from support.  That’s a huge piece of your work.  Well done. Here are a few things to consider in the process.

  1. The process of finding a counselor takes some work but is worth the effort of finding a good fit. I would encourage you to start by asking trusted friends, mentors, and pastors for recommendations.
  2. I encourage you to check out websites to get a feel for how the counselor portrays themselves. Does this resonate with you?  Are you thrown off by something? It is important to check in with yourself here and try to listen to your intuition. It sounds vague and sort of mystical, but we often “have a sense.”
  3. I encourage you to call the people that you are interested in, and inquire about a consultation.  Some providers offer phone consultations, others offer in-person consultations (COVID-19 may affect this). I encourage you to try to talk to the potential counselor and hear more about them, how they do what they do, why they do what they do and if they work in the areas that you are looking for. I encourage you to pay attention to whether you feel encouraged, calmed, and hopeful in this process at all.  Does the counselor seem to understand your questions or comments? Are the counselor’s responses to those questions or comments helpful?  Or are they unhelpful or abrupt/offensive? I encourage you to check in with yourself regularly to determine if you could imagine having a conversation with this counselor weekly.
  4. I encourage you to pay attention to the things that you’re feeling during your process of looking for and connecting with potential counselors.  There may still be nervousness or apprehension, but that is different than feeling like the connection isn’t there.

Ask yourself questions such as:

  • Do you feel cared for?
  • Do you feel like the counselor is curious about you?
  • Do you feel like the counselor wants to hear your experience? Some counselors want to do more of the talking, would this work for you?
  • Do you feel comfortable talking to this person?
  • Do you feel seen/understood?
  • Do you feel safe/comfortable in the office?
  • Do you feel like the counselor could help you grow? This would be evident through the counselor’s training and encouragement as well as genuine interest and curiosity in you.
  • Do you feel hopeful during or after an interaction with this person? This is not to say that there may not also be nervousness or some deep reflection, but does it feel like the counselor has hope for you, and can you sense this?

A good fit takes some work to find, but in the end, makes the difference in helping you address the things you hope to change. If you find that a potential counselor isn’t a good fit, it’s okay.  Not every counselor will be a good fit for everyone.  This is part of the counseling profession. Not every physician will be the best fit for every patient, and that’s okay too.  But you matter, what you’re going through matters, and it’s worth doing the work to find someone who will walk beside you.

This post was written by a counselor or therapist for informational use only and is not intended to replace advice from a professional who is working directly with you as a patient [or client].

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