Picking a counselor can be tough for several reasons. The first reason is that many people who visit a counselor want to keep their experiences private. If someone has a great experience at a new restaurant in town they are likely to tell a friend or neighbor about the food, service and overall experience. If someone has their sink repaired by a trustworthy and affordable plumber most people would have no problem recommending that plumber to others. What makes counseling different is that even if someone has a great experience with a counselor, they may not want to broadcast to friends and family that they are having difficulty in their marriage, are struggling with depression or are feeling unsatisfied with their life. Occasionally the stigma of counseling may keep people from sharing that they are seeing a counselor. Of course some people are more than willing to share that they are seeing or have seen a counselor and are happy to provide an account of their experience. But for many others the sensitive nature of what is being discussed in counseling prevents them from making recommendations to others. It may be worth asking friends or family if they know of any good counselors. Bear in mind some people may inquire about why you are asking. It may be wise to ask people selectively.
The list of things to consider when trying to find the right counselor is seemingly endless. The counselor’s age, gender, specialty, location, fee, availability, religious beliefs, reputation and approach may all be important considerations. Thinking about what your top priorities are would be a great place to start. For example, perhaps a counselor specializes in what you are looking for help with but doesn’t have any availability for the next 6 months. Perhaps a counselor has an office near your home but charges more than you can afford. Perhaps a counselor has affordable rates and is close to your home but comes from an approach that would clash with your personality. Ideally you could find a counselor that meets all of your criteria, but if not, prioritizing which factors are most important to you can be helpful. Many counselors will offer a free consultation to help you decide if he or she would be the right fit to help you overcome the obstacles you face. Feel free to take advantage of this. Counselors should be willing to answer questions you have, to help you decide if a particular counselor would be a good fit. Ultimately there is no substitute for actually talking to the counselor and deciding for yourself. These are just suggestions. Don’t let fear of choosing the right counselor prevent you from getting the help you need.