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How to find the right therapist/counselor for you. Asking the right questions.

therapist would be best.!

Therapy is a collaborative process, so finding someone you can build a rapport with is critical. Your therapy process will not be constructive unless you feel comfortable with the therapist you choose.

Conduct a telephone interview with a prospective therapist. Ask them about their education, training, credentials, and approach to therapy. Determine if the therapist’s values are consistent with your values.

Have a good idea of what you need from therapy. This will help you identify what specialties, experience and special training you are seeking in a therapist. You can then decide if a woman, a couples counselor, or a child

It is essential you find someone with whom you feel a comfortable connection, someone who makes you feel understood and accepted, a therapist who creates and maintains an environ-

Trust Your First Impression.

ment within which you can feel safe to explore even the most deeply felt sources of pain or conflict. You deserve the best possible therapy experience.

A few web sites: www.! www.! www. ! !

On your first visit, ask yourself, a few simple questions. "Do we click? Do I feel a connection? Do I respect this person? Do we share some values and beliefs?” For you to reveal yourself, you will need to feel safe and at ease. If it doesn’t feel right, move on to another therapist.

Therapy is evolving and your understanding of the options is important to lasting success.

Final Steps. Consider the following when narrowing your choices: 1. Gender of the therapist. Sometimes a specific issue may drive this decision. Choose by what feels right for you personally.

Basic questions to ask to help decide if a therapist is right for you: 1. “What is your level of education and training?” A good, competent therapist starts with a master's or a doctorate in a field of mental health (e.g., MA, MS, MSW, PhD, PsyD, MD). 2. “Did you and do you continue to receive supervised training?” Psychotherapy cannot simply be learned out of a book or in a classroom. You want a therapist who has also benefited from supervised training. 3. “Are you licensed and have you received additional certifications?” Following successful training, a therapist is pronounced worthy by an authority to which they be accountable. This can be a government

licensing board or some other credential issuing organization. Common designations you may encounter include: LCSW = Licensed Clinical Social Worker LMFT = Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist LMHC = Licensed Mental Health Counselor PhD = Doctor of Philosophy PsyD = Doctor of Psychology 4. "What expertise do you have with my type of problem and what has been the typical results?" Although the therapist doesn't necessarily need to have had experience in helping with your exact problem, she or he should be at least familiar with your type of situation and be prepared to tell you how they've helped others in similar circumstances.

2. Location. Proximity is important. If your therapist is close to home/work you’re more likely to m a k e / k e e p a ppointments. 3. Trial period: Contact two or three therapists and ask questions to determine who might be a good fit and schedule initial appointments

Rx through medication. Psychiatrists (MDs) and Doctor MDs are the only health care professionals that can prescribe medication Many feel that some conditions, depression for example, will benefit from a combination of medication and therapy.

5. "What do you think is usually the cause of most people's problems?" There are many ways to approach people's problems. Depending on their personal background, training, and preferences, therapists attribute problems to different sources. Some look to childhood events, some to the interrelationship of family members, others to faulty thinking, bad habits, or societal and cultural influences. Make sure your therapist's beliefs are at least somewhat in sync with your own views. 6. “What is your treatment philosophy and your treatment methods?” There are many treatment philosophies/methods so each therapist may approach your issue in different ways. In general, if the therapist is a psychoanalyst you will spend a long time in therapy but if she is a cognitive and/or behavioral therapist, the therapy will be relatively short and time limited. Again, the theoretical orientation is important however it may be more critical to have a strong working relationship with therapist. 7. “If you draw on other approaches, do you have any certification?” Since many counselors do draw on ideas from approaches other than their own, it may be worth knowing whether they have studied any of these approaches at length. 8. “Is there any research on the effectiveness of your therapeutic approach for addressing my particular problems?” It may be helpful to know if research evidence shows a particularly good fit between your

particular distress and what your counselor can provide. 9. “How long have you been in practice?” Although research does not indicate that practitioners who have been in practice longer provide any more effective service than less experienced colleagues, nonetheless it may be important to you to have an idea how much experience your counselor has accumulated.

Be specific! Often a therapist focuses on specific issues such as traumas, eating disorders, sexual dysfunction, or mood disorders. Sometimes a therapist works closely with particular populations, such as adolescents, gay couples or women’s issues. 10. “How long would you expect us to work together?” Your counselor may already have some idea of how long you might need to work together, and it may be useful to compare this with your own preferences as well as to consider how this fits with your budget. It is possible that your counselor will have no idea what to expect in terms of duration until he/she spends some time with you. 11. “How long will each counseling sessions be? Will the first session be longer or shorter?” For adult clients, the 'counseling hour' is usually 50-60 minutes long, but sometimes it can be longer. Some counselors schedule shorter initial sessions, others schedule 90 minutes for the first session.

12. “How many counseling sessions will I have per week?” Typically one session per week although two or more sessions may occasionally be offered depending on theoretical orientation and issues being addressed. 13. "What days/times do you work with clients? If you can only meet during evening/weekend hours see if those days/times are available. 14. "What is your hourly fee? Is this negotiable?” If you have no mental health insurance coverage or if the counselor does not accept insurance and you will pay the fee out of pocket, determine if you are able to comfortably afford the counselor’s fee. 15. “What payments do you accept – cash, check, credit, insurance?" Many counselors still work with cash payments, although an increasing number accept credit/debit. If he/she does accept insurance, find out which ones and if there is a copay. Check with your insurance to see what your coverage is; how many visits are covered, percentage covered, difference between innetwork and out-of-network providers, etc.

About the Author. Juli Steinocher, MA, LMHC is a counselor in St. Petersburg FL. She offers a unique combination of traditional counseling with energy psychology and energy medicine. Reach her at

Tips On Choosing A Counselor periodic publication "lab notes" is a great resource for those seeking guidance with counseling, performance, health and min...