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Choosing a Counselor

How do I pick a therapist?

Often when someone picks a therapist, they do not spend much time shopping for the right one. Choosing your therapist should involve an interview process, in which you ask questions about how they are going to help you. All too often, the therapist is chosen by who returns their call first, who is on their insurance plan, or who they might have happened to come across.  So, what should you ask of the potential therapist you are choosing?  Here are some ideas: First, you want to know a little bit about why you are seeking therapy, what you hope to accomplish, and what you think you want to work on.  The process of therapy may take you down different paths, but in the beginning, you want to have some idea of what you hope to get from the experience. With that knowledge in hand, you want to ask your potential therapist if they have experience working with these areas.  Then, ask how they work with this issue and what methods they use.  When was the last time they had a client that had similar issues or needs?  What will the process of healing these issues look like?  Does the therapist have an idea of how the issues you want help with are transformed?  If their only answer is that they will listen and you will do all the work, you might want to move on.  Yes, you will be the one working in therapy, but so should your therapist!  Sitting back and saying “uh ha, uh hum,” is NOT enough, unless your goal for therapy is to spend lots of money, go for a long time, and make no real changes!  Your therapist should have an idea of what types of therapeutic experiences will transform what you are asking for.

Will I be treated respectfully?

This fear is very common for anyone starting counseling.  The answer is, it really does depend upon WHO you pick as a counselor. We believe that most counselors have good intentions and our decades of experience backs that up, however there are exceptions.  On rare occasion, even well-intentioned counselors can be disrespectful.  A good, experienced counselor will always treat you with respect regardless of what you are there to talk about.  However, counselors are human and can be emotionally stirred by what you are presenting.  A good counselor will have done their own counseling and will know when their own issues are getting in the way. They will either do their own processing (on their own time, not yours) or, if they are seriously affected, they will offer you a referral to another counselor.  Always ask if the counselor you are seeing has done their own counseling.  You will be surprised by how many have not! It is also important to ask the counselor HOW they see the process of counseling helping you with your particular issue.

Misconceptions About Therapy

You must be crazy to go to therapy! Actually, healthy people go to therapy much more often than people with mental illness do!  People who want to better the quality of their lives seek counseling as a way to do so.  Quality of life! That is the only reason anyone should seek greater understanding of self.  It should be the reason one seeks therapy, reads a self help book, attends a self help or twelve step group, or any other type of therapeutic experience.  Improving the quality of your life does not require being diagnosed, labeled, stigmatized, judged, or any other type of devaluing experience that is often feared and sometimes actualized by the therapy experience.  When therapy or self exploration works, the result should be less stress, more joy, greater understanding, lighter presence of being, greater intimacy in relationships, a sense of direction and a greater self concept.

Media and Pop Culture

There is a lot of belief about what therapy is and what it isn’t in popular culture.  Many people have stories of therapy experiences that were not helpful or even destructive and just as many have stories of therapy experiences that were meaningful or even life changing. Popular media seems to present therapy as amusing or unethical.  Just about every portrayal of a therapist in television and movies portray therapists violating ethical codes of conduct.  Even movies that attempt to portray therapists in a positive light will show the therapist being unethical in some manner. All this does not bode well for the practice of therapy. In actuality, ethical violations are rare and most therapists take lots of action to ensure ethical practice.  All licensed counselors are required to take classes on ethics every several years.

How do I determine if I should go to therapy?

Are you happy?  How fast are you going?  How fast are the thoughts in your head?  Are you anxious, depressed, and often sad?  How connected are you to others?  How intimate can you be with the people who are important to you?  Do you have intense nightmares or body memories?  Do you have unresolved traumas in your life experience that may be affecting your well being or connection to others?  Do you want more joy in your life?  Are you edgy, angry, or easily irritated? Do you want to know more about yourself and why you do things?  Are you going through a major life transition?  These are just some of the reasons to seek therapy. There are many more!

Paying for Therapy

We work on a sliding scale for clients who need an affordable option for counseling. We are also on many insurance panels. We do not accept Washington State insurance or CUP. For more information of what questions to ask your insurance agency see the Health Insurance Verification Tips below.

Counseling is an investment in your well being. Most often, counseling benefits are achieved through a process that can take time to develop. We ask all our clients to consider making a commitment to themselves and their well being by choosing to be involved in the counseling process as long as is needed to derive the benefits they’re seeking. Another way of looking at this is if the counseling worked, and it took ten sessions to work through the painful situation in your life, would it be worth what you paid for that to happen.

To discuss your fee for the type of counseling you are seeking please give us a call at 360-281-6824.

 

 

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