This honest and practical guide is all based on my personal experience of being both the counselor and the patient.
Counseling might be the answer. However, it all depends on what question you are asking! Counseling is one of the numerous therapies that are available.
Have you determined that counseling is what is necessary or has it been suggested to you by a well-intentioned friend. In order for counseling to be effective, many things need to be right.
You have to want to change, and you have to want to engage. It has to be the right time. do you have enough time? Are you willing to put in the effort and money that is necessary?
Have you checked into free alternatives? Although the waiting lists are long, in some areas it is up to 18 weeks, but it's free.
Is there any kind of Employee Support Program offered by your employer?
Many employers have these kinds of plans but at times many employees don't want to go through all of the hassles of seeing their doctor, maybe having a psychiatric evaluation done and then see somebody that it the choice of their insurance company.
Collect some information on several prospective counselors that you are considering. Are they qualified? Do they belong to any professional bodies? If not, then find someone else.
Find out what kinds of counseling they offer: for issues like loss and bereavement, person-centered is often very useful.
For areas such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety, and depression, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be more helpful.
It is claimed that CBT helps with training clients how to cope with situations in the future in a different way.
Check out how their practice is set up: is it a solo practitioner with a rented room or is there a whole team of counselors that can match the most appropriate therapist with your specific needs.
Look at the comments from clients, do they sound genuine? Do they seem similar to the kind of person you are?
Do they have a dull or flashy website? Are there grammar errors or spelling mistakes?
Contact prospective counselors. Does the person sound professional? Do they answer? Do they have a quiet office? If you left a message, how long did it take them to respond to you?
A counselor might be busy with a client, so be patient. If you send them an email, how long did it take for them to respond to you?
Did they send you a standard reply or a more personal one? Trust your gut feelings suggest the pros at Clarity Clinic. Don't hesitate trying someone else, if you feel the person is too disinterested or pushy.
Think about where the therapy room is located: what would you say if you met one of your neighbors while you were on your way to therapy?
Many clients like to visit a counselor who is a bit further away from where they live to help keep things confidential.
You could always say you were headed out to go to the hairdresser, see a show, or meet a friend.
Ask if they offer free or reduced rate initial telephone appointments or assessment.
Is the counselor a solo practitioner who says he can treat anything or does he practice in a group where someone else on the team can better meet your needs?
Make sure you are comfortable with the financial aspects. Can you use your credit card to pay? What type of cancellation policy do they have?
Do you have to pay upfront? If you commit to a certain number of sessions will you receive a discount?
Keep an open mind when you go to the first sessions. A majority of people like being heard.
If there is anything about the counselor's work that you don't like, let them know and see what other options are available to you.