Deciding to go to counseling or therapy is a brave one. It can take a lot of courage to admit you need help with something you are struggling with, and getting professional counseling can make a tremendous difference in your life. Yet once you make the decision to go to counseling, you must also determine which counselor is the right one for your needs. This is not always an easy choice because there are many excellent and highly qualified counselors out there, but not all will be the right fit for your needs. This guide will help you determine how to find the right therapist or counselor so that you can get the most out of your counseling experience.

How Do I Find the Right Counselor for Me?

To get started on finding the right counselor for you, there are a few steps to take. First, check with your insurance provider. Most insurance providers have mental health coverage, and counseling with a licensed therapist is typically a covered mental health treatment. Your insurance provider may have a directory of approved therapists or counselors you can contact.

Yet even with that information, you may still have an alarmingly long list of potential counselors. Another way to find a qualified counselor is to ask trusted friends or family for recommendations. If the people you know have a therapist they have used who comes highly recommended, then they might be a good place to start your search.

If you have a particular mental health concern, such as depression or trauma, you can reach out to organizations that serve people with that concern to see if they have recommended therapists in your area. For example, the National Center for PTSD maintains a database of therapists with PTSD qualifications, as does the National Eating Disorders Association. This can help you narrow down your options even further.

It takes time to find the right counselor, and sometimes even when you get a short list, you will need to continue digging before you can determine which one is right for you.

What It Takes to Find the Right Match

As you continue narrowing down your options, you will need to make sure you find the right match. This takes persistence, but it is worthwhile. Once you find the right therapist, you will be armed with the ability to make progress in your emotional or mental health concerns. Here are some questions you can ask:

Are They in the Right Field to Help You?

There are many reasons why a person might choose to get counseling, and not all counselors have training in every area. Some common reasons to seek counseling include:

  • Personal coaching: A personal coach helps you work towards your best self. They may help you get the inspiration you need to pursue your goals, or they may help you determine what those goals should be.
  • Trauma therapy: Many people experience trauma in childhood or adult life. If you are suffering signs of trauma, you will need a trauma-informed therapist.
  • General mental health counseling: Anxiety and depression or similar mental health concerns need professional treatment, and you will need a therapist trained in general mental health.
  • Marriage counseling: Marriage is hard work, and marriage counselors help couples through difficult times to become stronger.
  • Family therapy: If you have children, you may need family therapy to work through family struggles.
  • Christian counseling: If you are of a religious affiliation, you might want to find a counselor aligned with your beliefs. You can often find professional counselors that are also religious counselors, giving you both faith-based counseling and professional therapy.

These are just some examples of the different types of counselor and therapist specialties out there. In addition, you will want to consider the types of counseling or therapy tools they use. For example, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavior therapy, and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy are all effective types of therapy, but some people simply need to talk out their problems with a licensed counselor through talk therapy. Figure out what type of counseling or therapist specialties you need, and you will be closer to finding the right fit.

Do They Offer Online Only or In Person Only?

Therapy comes in one of two formats. Some therapists function as online therapists. They meet with you via a video app and connect with you from the comfort of your home. This can be a convenient option if you have a very busy schedule or if you suffer from anxiety that makes it difficult to leave home. If your job takes you out of state regularly, online counseling means you can get help when needed, even if you are away from home.

Other therapists work in person. This requires you to go to the therapist's office to meet them face-to-face. For some people, this counseling is more effective because it has a more personal feel to it. It can allow you to build a solid connection with your therapist or counselor, and that can make the time in counseling more effective.

Finally, some counseling offices may offer both. They may offer in-person counseling, with the option for online counseling if you need a remote session. This structure can provide the best of both options if you need some flexibility.

You may not know which type of therapy is best for you. As you are in the process of choosing a therapist, consider trying both types. You might find that one is a better fit.

How Well Do Personalities Work Together?

Even within counseling, you will find many different types of personalities. What is a good fit for your friend may not be a good fit for you. Some people need a personal counselor who will not pull any punches but tells it exactly as they see it. Others need a counselor with a gentler approach. There is no right or wrong answer here, but when you are working on finding the right counselor, you will want to look for one that has a personality that meshes well with yours.

Allow Time to Find the Right Counselor

Finding the right counselor is not something that should be rushed. It takes time to learn how to choose a therapist, and it takes time to go through the process of finding one. Sometimes, you will need to try a few before you find the one that is a perfect fit.

Be patient with yourself. By investing the time in finding a quality counselor and not giving up, even if you find the process taking a lot of time, you will get the most out of your time in counseling. It is worthwhile to have the patience to keep looking and the willingness to tackle this process when the end result is a counselor who is the right fit.

The Positive Effects of Counseling on Your Life

Whether you are tackling the brave task of working through your trauma, getting personal coaching to help you make an important step in your life, or getting help to heal from anxiety and depression, therapy can work if you put in the work. It can make a positive difference in your life, strengthening your mental health so you can take on the challenges that come your way. However, you have to find the right therapist to make this happen.

If you get help through counseling or therapy and want to give that same help to others, consider a degree in counseling or therapy. University of the Cumberlands' master’s in clinical mental health counseling can be a good choice. Take some time to find the right counselor for you, then move into a counseling role to give that same help to others with the help of University of the Cumberlands.