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 spending money and emotional energy.

Before you bare your soul to a counselor, it’s important to find the right fit for you.

Some clients feel cheated paying counseling fees at their first session if it’s not a good fit.

Here are things to consider when you’re trying to find the right 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.

To Find The Right Counselor Research Online First

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 TodayTheravive, 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.

You’re not obligated to schedule a counseling appointment after a phone call or email. It’s OK to shop around.

Here are 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 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.

You’re The One Hiring the Right Counselor

You’re the one choosing a medical doctor, a psychiatrist, or a mental health therapist. It’s their expertise you’re seeking to hire. Mental health professionals are providing the services you need. Think of how you would hire a contractor or mechanic. It’s important that you get the right fit for what you need.

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.” It doesn’t matter whether you’re struggling with a 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

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