How to Find a Counselor
Trying to find a counselor or therapist can be confusing and tricky. Especially in the Seattle area—there are a lot of us! There are a few things to consider besides _what counselors take my insurance. _Below is a list of factors to consider when finding a counselor:
Are going to be comfortable seeing someone older or younger than you? How much does age matter to you?
If you are dealing with sexual issues you should seek help from someone your same gender. Otherwise think about what you are seeking counseling for, who are you going to feel the safest or most comfortable sharing your life story with.
Counselors specialize in different areas:
- grief and loss
- drug and alcohol
- trauma and more.
Some counselors have a specific specialty, while others may have several things that they do. For example anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand. If a counselor has personally experienced trauma or abuse they are often gifted in working with the anger and grief associated with trauma and abuse.
Find a bio and/or picture of the counselors you are looking into. Try to get a sense of who they are. If you don’t like how their bio is written or if you look at their picture and don’t feel comfortable, follow that instinct because you probably won’t "click" with them.
How is their parking and is the office easily accessible? Ask yourself: is this a place I am willing to drive to once a week, or in traffic?
If you are insured call the number on the back of your insurance card to see what they cover. Also call the counselor or their office to verify any other financial questions. If you don’t have insurance, don’t worry: most office have a sliding fee scale. You will most likely have to provide one or two pay stubs, and how much you spend.
Interview your favorites
Make a list and find your top three counselors/therapists. Most of us do a free phone call (usually around 15 minutes) and some even do a free 1st session (that is a bit harder to find). Plan on calling or emailing the counselor with any questions you might have and provide a little bit of your background information:
Questions to consider asking:
- Counselor's Education/Background/Training
- Counseling goals and treatment planning
- Outline for sessions
- Is homework or exercises given for outside of session
Background information to provide:
- What is the issue/problem?
- When did it start?
- Any trauma?
- Is it a legal matter (is there court/lawyer/CPS involvement)?
- Is there anyone that you might like to bring into counseling with you in the future?
Try to keep this part brief. You won’t get any advice over the phone.
Scheduling your first appointment
Once you have collected all the information you need, pick your favorite and schedule your first session. Don't just pick who you think is the most qualified. Pick a counselor you will be the most comfortable with and has experience dealing with your type of concerns. The first session is always a little bit scary, and that's OK! Remember to bring all of your paperwork (and insurance information) with you.