Nothing is more important than finding the right professional to help you address your life situation and achieve your life, relationship, marriage, and family goals. I offer the following things to help you think about how you might search for and discover the right conselor or therapist to you help you. I would welcome the opportunity to talk to you in person if you would like. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me and schedule a time. I don’t charge for helping people work through their efforts in choosing a counselor or therapist. Contact me today!
- I have had several clients tell me of a past experience where their counselor/therapist would fall asleep during their counseling session. Obviously, you want to have a professional who is attentive to your needs, listens carefully to you, and appears to be (actually is) interested in you as a person. The most common element identified in research concerning what makes counseling successful is a good relationship between the client and their counselor/therapist. This may be the most important thing you consider other than training, credentials, and professional experience. 1. I have had several clients tell me of a past experience where their counselor/therapist would fall asleep during their counseling session. Obviously, you want to have a professional who is attentive to your needs, listens carefully to you, and appears to be (actually is) interested in you as a person. The most common element identified in research concerning what makes counseling successful is a good relationship between the client and their counselor/therapist. This may be the most important thing you consider other than training, credentials, and professional experience.
2. Another option to consider is referrals from other professionals and client reviews about the professional that you may find on the internet. The main thing is that you remain willing to work with the best counselor/therapist you can find, not necessarily the most convenient one.
There are many options on line where you can search for therapists that have a particular skill or expertise. For example, here are a few examples related to me:
Certified Sex Addiction Therapist
Certified EMDR Therapist
Certified Advanced Alcohol & Drug Counselor (You can search my name on this page, this credentialing board doesn’t have a profile entry for it’s credentialed members.)
3. There are many different theories in the field of psychology, counseling, and therapy. When you talk to a counselor/therapist, ask them about their theoretical orientation and how it might be applied in the type of problem you are presenting to them. It’s important that your counseling/therapy professional have a solid theoretical foundation that guides the way in which they approach helping you reach your goals in counseling/therapy.
4. Make sure your counselor/therapist has a license to practice counseling and therapy in the state in which you live. This is important. State licenses require the most rigorous requirements including defined levels of education that must be achieved (i.e., specific degrees), requirements that the education contain specific academic content, experience gained under clinical direction, supervision of the clinically directed experience, a defined and verified quantity of pre-licensure experience in clinical work, post licensure educational requirements, and periodic licensure renewal that continuously verifies the professionals maintenance of specific expectations of a licensee.
5. Always verify any license or credential that a professional presents. Look it up. Read about it. Is what you read congruent with what you heard your potential counselor/therapist describe? Remember, in today’s world, it is very easy to use the internet to obtain credentials and certifications that do not have rigorous requirements to obtain.
6. Remember that the best schools don’t make the best counselor or therapist. The best therapist has an empathic ability to understand people. The best therapists have often pursued their own life journey of personal growth, giving them a wealth of personal experiences from which they are able to extrapolate an understanding of your life situation. The best therapists are ones that understand that to be effective in their work requires a life-long process of learning. Ask a potential therapist what books they’ve read recently. Ask them how they continue to learn and evolve their intellectual understanding of people, including the theoretical orientation they use to help people gain understandings, experience change, and achieve their life goals. In my experience, counselors/therapists who stopped reading when they finished school, those who only get new information from their continuing education requirements for licensure renewal, these counselors/therapists are limited in their ability to accommodate some of the more complex situations that clients bring to the counseling/therapy office.
7. Try to find a counselor/therapist that not only says they are a specialist in the area you are looking for help in, but they also have specific training and expertise in this area. What was their specific education in that specialty area? What was the requirements of the credentialing board regarding that specific specialty area? And remember, a 3-day course on something does not make someone an expert! However, a 3-day course along with 25 years of working specifically with a certain population of people or in a defined specialty area may be as good or better than someone who is highly credentialed. Don’t be afraid to engage your potential counselor/therapist in this area and go with your intuition.
8. Be wary of counselors/therapists that according to their website or other promotional material, they specialize in everything. No one can be a specialist in everything. It is true that a professional can be certified in more than one thing. Having been a learner and having been in the field of mental health for 25 years, I have earned several credentials and developed several areas of expertise. But, it has taken an investment of finances and energy over the course of a long period of time.
9. If you are LGBTQIA, ask your counselor/therapist if they are LGBTQIA. Ask them if they are LGBTQIA affirming. Ask them what affirming means to them. At the very least, ask the counselor/therapist if they are able to see LGBTQIA persons as normal people. Find out if the potential counselor/therapist has experience in working with the population of people that you identify with. For example, if you are contemplating something related to being transgender, ask if this professional has experience and training in working with persons who are considering transitioning or who have worked through a transitioning process. If you are gay or lesbian, and you are having relationship and/or a need for help with sexual concerns, find out if your potential counselor/therapist has training or experience in working with gay or lesbian persons in these areas. And always be aware that the pronouncement of gay affirming, in and of itself, is not enough. Someone who is not LGBTQIA most likely cannot fully understand your situation. Someone who is not LGBTQIA but has much life experience in associating with and helping others who are LGBTQIA, is more likely to be helpful. Someone who has successfully walked the path you are walking will be the most help.
10. Finally, take note of how you experience a potential counelor/therapist the first time you meet with them. Go with your instincts. Go with your intuitions. If there is a good connection, stay. If there are red-flags, leave and continue exploring options for a professional who can help with your particular situation.