How to Decide if Your Mental-Health Professional is “The One”

How to Decide if Your Mental-Health Professional is “The One”

Finding the right counselor or therapist can feel a lot like dating. It requires time, energy, and self-awareness. For some, it can be uncomfortable sharing the intimate details of your life with someone you don’t know. Others have a more idyllic vision of their relationship with their professional. Most simply want someone who understands them, maybe even comes from the same ethnic background and—well, while those are all great, you also want to make sure that you are compatible in the most important ways. Many people try once and give up too fast because they had a poor experience with their mental health provider. Like dating, finding the right professional requires some effort.


Let’s start with the intent. Have you spent time thinking about what you want? What is your reason for pursuing counseling? For example, are you trying to overcome a traumatic experience? Do you want someone who can help you process a divorce? Someone to hold you accountable while battling an addiction? How about someone to encourage you in parenting? Identify the reason you are seeking help and mention it during the first meeting with your professional.


Personality also plays a large role in your client-counselor relationship. If there is something about your professional that rubs you the wrong way, you will probably not want to visit them. If they don’t get your humor or seem too loud for you, there is nothing wrong with requesting a different professional. As in a dating relationship, you want to be comfortable with the person you are meeting with and sometimes it just doesn’t work out.


In any relationship, you want to be with someone who makes you better. Looking for a professional is much the same. You want someone who can ask you the tough questions and walk the journey into healing with you. If you are not leaving your meetings feeling as though you are making progress, it may be time to consider alternative options. You may also need to take an active role in helping to direct the discussion towards the areas you feel are most important. Any good relationship requires both parties to be working towards a common goal; and that requires communication.


Having a therapist or counselor to speak with about the challenges in your life is a valuable investment. It is important to continue to pursue the help that you need, despite whatever difficulties you may encounter. Often that may mean giving your sessions more time. Or it may mean working harder on your part to engage with your therapist. Whatever the case, like a spouse or life partner, you want to make sure that you do more than simply pick a good one. You want to pick the right one. We hope you will reach out to us at Gilstrap and Associates.


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