Choosing a Counselor

michael hilgers choosing a therapst

Choosing a counselor can be an intimidating task. Research suggests that selecting a counselor who is a good fit has a more significant impact on successful outcome than the counselor’s degree, licensure or theoretical orientation. What constitutes a good fit is a difficult thing to measure and often comes down to trusting your instincts.

If you can, ask friends, family or coworkers for referral options to help narrow the options down. Most counselors have an online presence. Check out their websites, reviews and written material before reaching out.

If you plan to use insurance benefits do your homework first. I always recommend calling an actual representative to verify coverage for mental/behavioral health benefits, copay amount, deductible amount and any restrictions. Don’t necessarily rely on the information you find online about your policy. I’ve seen several people be unpleasantly surprised when their claims are rejected.

Reach out to a few counselors either by phone or email. Most counselors I know have limited availability by phone so anticipate having to leave a message and provide them with some good times to call you back.

Here’s a few things to consider:

Location: it is not ideal to arrive for counseling completely stressed out after hustling across town through traffic. If possible, try to make going to counseling as convenient as possible.

Insurance: if you find a counselor but they are not in-network, explore what options you have for using an out-of-network provider. Many plans will reimburse a percentage of the cost making it much more affordable.

Questions: write down what questions you have before making the initial contact with a prospective counselor. That first call can be intimidating and it is easy to forget things that might be important.

Questions that you might want to ask include:

How long have you been in practice?

Do you have a specialty?

Do you have experience with _________?

What are your thoughts on psychotropic medications?

Do you take my insurance?

How much do you charge?

How is contact handled between appointments?

What is your cancellation policy?

At the end of the day trust your gut. It may take an appointment or two to truly get a good feel but a lot can be determined even in that initial contact.

About Michael Hilgers, M.MFT

I’m a Licensed Professional Counselor working remotely with clients around the world. I believe that everyone has the potential to change; to create new paths, to go in new directions. Life is hard. Counseling can help.

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