If you are worried about choosing the right mental health therapist, take the time to find someone who is right for you. Before you commit to a therapist, look for one that matches the following criteria:
Covered by Your Insurance or Will Work With Your Financial Situation
Look for a therapist you can afford. Mental health counseling typically takes several sessions before you will see significant progress. Check with your insurance company for a list of mental health counselors in your network. If you do not have insurance or your insurance does not cover therapy sessions, ask each therapist you investigate if he or she will charge you on a sliding scale or work with you for payment.
Specializes in Your Field of Need
You'll want to choose a therapist who has experience with your issue of concern. If you are dealing with depression, look for a therapist who has worked with people struggling with depression before. If you need marital counseling or help overcoming an addiction, ask the therapist if he or she is experienced with the issues at hand.
Is Licensed and Has the Proper Education
Choose a mental health counselor who has a bachelor's or master's degree in social work, psychology, psychiatry or counseling. Beware of any counselors practicing without the proper education. Ask the therapist about his or her experience.
Makes You Feel Comfortable
Mental health work requires a high level of disclosure and vulnerability, so it is essential that your therapist makes you feel comfortable. If for any reason you find yourself uncomfortable or filtering what you feel comfortable sharing, consider looking for a new therapist. Don't be afraid to tell the therapist if the relationship is not working for you. The therapist will understand that this is a subjective field and will not be upset with you if you decide you do not want to work with him or her.
Is Helping You Meet Your Mental Health Counseling Goals
It will take a few sessions before you will know if this particular mental health counselor is able to help you with your goals, but you should take the time to evaluate the relationship after three or four sessions to see if things are progressing well enough for you. If you feel the connection has not been established and the therapist is not helping you, you may want to let him or her go and look for another counselor.
Don't be discouraged if it takes you a while to find a therapist to work witih. It's better to take your time and find the right match than to rush into a counseling relationship with the wrong person.
There's no reason too small to consider working with a therapist, but be sure to do some research to find a good therapist who's trained in the type of therapy best suited for your issues and remember that you're in control: if you don't benefit from your intial session, stop and choose another therapist.
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