You’re ready to make a change. And you’ve decided to give counseling a try. Because you are so tired of feeling stuck in your head. But when you think about finding a counselor near you, you don’t know where to begin.
Choosing a therapist is a very personal decision. You are trying to decide who you will trust with some of your deepest fears and your biggest dreams. So you really don’t want to go to the first person that calls you back or blindly pick a counselor on your insurance provider list. You really want to find someone that understands you and the transformation you are wanting to make.
For many of you, the search for a counselor will begin online. But you quickly become overwhelmed by all the counselors in our area. For instance, there are currently 60 Lee’s Summit counselors with listings on the Psychology Today Therapist Finder website! (While not all counselors list their practice on Psychology Today, including me, that is still a lot of therapists to choose from.)
6 Tips on Finding the Right Counselor for You:
So before you give up or pick a counselor at random, here are some suggestions on narrowing down your search for the best counselor for you:
- Don’t Over-Think What Degree Your Counselor Needs to Have: In the field of mental health, there are numerous types of providers from Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), Registered Play Therapist (RPT), and Licensed Psychologists (Ph.D. or PsyD). While I recommend you work with a mental health provider that has a graduate degree and a professional license (or working toward licensure), you don’t need to get stuck here. It’s less important to choose which degree or license your therapist has, and more important to focus on whether or not you “feel” like the provider is a good fit for you.
- Write Down Your Personal Preferences for a Counselor: Before you do any research, write down what you are looking for in a counselor. This will help you choose who to call and what questions to ask. For instance, do you have a preference on the counselor’s gender, office location, and/or hours they are available for appointments? What type of service are you looking for: couples counseling, child counseling, family counseling, or individual counseling? Lastly, reflect on how you want to feel when you talk to the counselor. Do you want someone who is directive, a great listener, or guides you to find your own answers?
- Decide How Much You Will Invest Financially: If you want to have the freedom to see the best counselor for you, then it will be helpful to be clear on how much you will invest financially before you call. The average fee for counseling is $90/50-minute session with an average fee range for individual therapy from $70-$150. If you have insurance that has out of network coverage, then you can ask the therapist if they provide a receipt for you to submit to your insurance for reimbursement. Whether you are wanting to use your insurance or not, think about how much you are willing to invest if you knew it could help you thrive, not just survive what you are going through.
- Ask Trusted People for Recommendations: Ask trusted healthcare providers, friends and family who they recommend for the type of counseling service you are seeking. While what works for one person may not be a great fit for you, if you keep hearing the same name come up, it’s worth doing more research or setting up a call to learn more. And it helps narrow down the list of therapists to choose from!
- Let Your Intuition Guide Your Online Search: If you need more therapists to choose from, start your online search. You can do a search for “counseling/counselor near me” or counseling in the city you live or work in. Your search will bring up therapist listings on Google maps, counselor websites, and therapist directories. such as Psychology Today. Read through the websites and bios in order to narrow down who you want to contact. Let your preferences and intuition guide you. Which therapist’s websites resonate with you as if the therapist already understands you and your struggle?
- Get on the Phone with a Counselor Before Scheduling: Some of the therapists on your list may not be taking new clients, but you won’t know until you try calling them. If they don’t return your call, keep moving down your list. And if they offer a free phone consult, schedule one, so you don’t have to play endless phone tag. And once you get on the phone with them, you get the first-hand experience of what it will be like to talk with him or her. Then, schedule with the one who feels most aligned with what you are looking for.
You did it. You are taking the first step in investing not only in yourself, but also your health, happiness, and relationships. Choosing a counselor that is right for you is an important and personal decision. I trust that you know what is best for you.
Marci Payne, MA, LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Lee’s Summit MO. She loves helping ambitious women ages 19-69 create fulfilling relationships by first transforming your relationship with yourself. Schedule a free 15-minute phone call and decide if she is the counselor for you. Here’s to loving yourself and your relationships again!