Updated: Jan 28
The process an individual takes to even decide to make that first phone call can often be a long one. Deliberating the costs, the vulnerability that counseling requires, the commitment to the treatment process are just the tip of the iceberg. What most people don’t realize is that just because you’ve made a decision to start counseling, doesn’t mean your work is done. Choosing the right provider is one of the keys to your success. In order to help you navigate this process, here are some important questions to ask.
“What type of evidence-based practice do you use?” Some counselors have a very non-solution focused model and tend to “wing” their sessions by talking about the week, etc. without a specific overall goal and plan to achieve that goal. Some counselors are very goal-oriented and work each session to deliberately help you get you to the place you want to be and tend to be very direct in their approach. Some use cognitive behavioral therapy, person-centered, dialectical behavioral therapy or others that you should become familiar with. Each person’s preferences are different therefore it is important to find a counselor whose counseling style works best with your personality type. (Kasey Compton, LPCC)
“What does individualized treatment mean?” Counseling as a profession should be individualized to meet each client’s specific needs. There is not a one size fits all treatment for anyone. Yes, there are treatment modalities that work better to assist with certain issues but everyone has their own world view, experiences, culture, background, and varying developmental level. A skilled clinician realizes that all clients have individual needs and develops a comprehensive treatment plan based on assessments and truly listening to each client in order to develop what that individual person needs. As such, treatment needs over time will change therefore a treatment plan needs to reflect growth and continued areas of need. A good counselor will listen to you and try to help you meet your therapeutic goals. (Lena Kline, LPCC)
“What is therapy?” Therapy or Counseling (no matter the title) should be a collaborative effort between the client and clinician. When looking for a provider it is helpful to look for one who is willing to listen and be respectful of your experience, while also being able to challenge you so you can make progress toward your desired goals. Counseling is not always easy and can sometimes be uncomfortable when addressing difficult topics. Although uncomfortable at times, evidence from behavioral studies have shown that it is often successful in helping clients decrease overall emotional distress. (Alex Peters, LPCC)
“Do you take a systems approach or an individual approach to counseling?” Many counselors look at only the individual and how to help them or some will look at the family and friend (system they belong to) and try to make adjustments with in the system. It is good to know from what approach you counselor will be wanting to work. Both are great ways to help, but they are different ways of dealing with issues in people’s life. (Savannah Kuney, MFT-A)
These are just a few tips to consider when moving forward with the counseling process. Since all counselors have different strengths and treatment approaches, try not to get discouraged. If you happen to meet one that is not aligned with your needs and ideals, don’t give up — just give another one a chance!
Thanks to the Mindsight Staff for the collaboration on this post: Kasey R. Compton, LPCC, Lena Kline, LPCC, Alex Peters, LPCC, & Savannah Kuney, MFT-A