Is My Counselor Right for Me?
By: Rachel Lewis, LCMHCA, NCC
Making the decision to start counseling can elicit a myriad of emotions- anxiety, desperation, sadness, confusion- just to name a few. Truthfully, it can be downright daunting! Relief can certainly come after making that first appointment but then doubt might creep in. Did I make the right choice? Will my counselor like me? Will I like my counselor! Stressful, right? Here are some things to consider when choosing a counselor and deciding whether that person is a right fit for you.
What do You Want?
First, figuring out what you’re looking for in a counselor can be super helpful in finding the right person. Here are some categories that people look for in counselors:
- Religion and/or spirituality
- Bi-lingual abilities
- Availability (asking if the person is taking new clients and times available- consider your schedule and theirs for future sessions, not just initial appointments)
- Seasoned professional or newer professional
- Cultural Background and/or race
- Price (accepting insurance or private pay)
There are many categories for your search that can be overwhelming but narrowing it down based on any of these categories can be useful.
Meet the Counselor
Next, meet the counselor. Fear stops many clients from ever coming. What if I don’t like it? What if I don’t like the therapist? When I have a new client, I like to ask them to commit to at least three sessions before deciding to either continue with me or find someone else (I always offer to help with referrals). It’s pretty hard to get to know someone in one 50-60 minute session. At the end of the day, we know that not every client is a great fit for every counselor. Counseling is a relationship and we are not meant to be in relationship with every person. We can help find a great fit because you deserve it!
Listen to Your Gut!
Lastly, listen to your gut. One of the most important aspects of the therapeutic process is the relationship between the counselor and client. If you don’t like your counselor or if you don’t feel comfortable with them, therapy will not work with that person, and that’s ok! It’s not about the counselor, it’s about you! We are here for you, not the other way around. The therapeutic alliance (a therapy fancy term for relationship) is built on trust and confidence in knowing that the person you are talking to has an unconditional, non-judgmental, point of view when deciding on treatment plans and engaging in sessions.
Questions to Ask after your First Session
- Do I feel heard?
- Can say what I need to say?
- Do I feel comfortable?
- Do I feel judged?
- Can I vibe with this person?
- Am I being lectured or given advice or are we coming up with solutions together?
Think about it this way, when you’re looking for a new hair or nail tech, we look at reviews, get references, vet your choices, right? We also do this for medical and mental health providers. You are paying for a service that you requested, and you want that to be the right fit for you. Therapists are the same way! We can usually tell when it’s not a great fit. It’s important to be honest about what you are feeling with that counselor and more importantly, yourself. Communicate with your therapist.
So, if you feel like you are ready to take the step from surviving to thriving, reach out to us to make an appointment or ask questions! We have offices in Raleigh, Fuquay-Varina, and Wake Forest and are available for online sessions! Tell us on the phone what you are looking for and we can connect you with a therapist that we think will fit!