Whether you are new to the idea of mental health therapy or just looking for a new counselor, you want to find someone you trust and feel comfortable with. Along with the important considerations of credentials and experience, certain traits are good indicators that your therapist will be an effective advisor. Listed below are five tips to help you find the right counselor for you.
- Your counselor should ask you what you expect to gain from therapy. Your answer might be “working on behaviors” or “learning coping skills.” Or perhaps, if you’re new to the idea of counseling, you are not sure what to expect. That’s okay. The important thing is that they ask for your expectations. Attending sessions for weeks or months with no direction for improvement may result in frustration.
- If you attend your first session, and the therapist never stops talking, look elsewhere. It is normal for a professional to talk about his/her background and credentials. But if they leave no room for you to speak, it might be an indicator that they are self-centered. No one is perfect, but if you leave the session wishing you could have said more, you might want to move on. Your appointments are a platform for you to articulate your challenges and needs. There must be room in the conversation to do so.
- In contrast, if the counselor says nothing during an hour-long session, letting you dominate the conversation, this might be a red flag. If you are pouring out your innermost thoughts and feelings, you should expect confirmation that they are hearing what you say. Ideally, your therapist will show empathy and articulate ideas for growth.
- Pick someone reliable. If they cancel your appointment more than once in a 3-month period, you might want to seek a more reliable confidant. When you are facing a challenge, be it anxiety, depression, anger, or worry, you need to know that your counselor is stable and committed to your healing.
- If you invest six months with the same counselor, you should feel a sense of relief, however small, after most appointments. If you have concerns about the effectiveness of your sessions, speak to your counselor first. If your concerns are not addressed, it might be time to make a change.
Finding the right therapist is not always quick or easy, but the benefits of counseling with the right professional can be life changing. Allow ample time to discern whether your sessions are helping. Follow these guidelines to ensure you end up with a good fit. At Gilstrap & Associates, we work hard to match each client with a counselor who has been specifically trained for their area of expertise. Each counselor offers a free 15-minute telephone consultation to thoughtfully discuss your needs. If you are struggling, contact us today.