What should I look for in a counselor?
Nothing irks me quite like hearing people tell their horror story of an experience with a previous counselor.
There are so many good counselors out there, and there are some who definitely fall into the no-so-good camp. Rather than go through the whole experience of seeking out a counselor for services only to be met with a person who doesn't seem to get you, who doesn't seem to care about you feeling safe or welcome, and who enjoys spending your time talking about themselves, let's just cut that bs right out and emphasize what you should spend your time looking for in a counselor.
Someone You Feel Comfortable With
Hear me out on this one. First off - you probably can't gauge this accurately without a couple of sessions under your belt. I generally tell people that you should give it about three sessions before you make a final decision on whether or not you're a good fit. It can take that long to get through a good, thorough assessment, to get a true feel for one another, and to figure out if you're really feeling good with the counselor you're working with.
If you're not sure whether it's working for you by the third session, then you have a few options. First, you can bring that up to your counselor and try to talk about it; second, you can say you don't think it's a good fit and ask for a referral; or third, you can simply not schedule anything and try to find another counselor. I wouldn't recommend the last one, but it's been known to happen.
Someone Who Answers Your Questions
This seems obvious, right? When you call to schedule a session - ask any question that you have. I'll generally spend about 10-15 minutes on the phone with a person who is calling in, that way they can get all of their questions answered and I can explain a few important pieces from my end. It's that simple, really.
One caveat here is that it's personal preference. Some of you might be reading this and thinking, "um, no, I'd rather just schedule something and show up" and that's totally fine. However, if you did have questions, then it's only fair that you would have some space to ask them and to get them answered (to the extent possible).
Someone Who Is Transparent
This is another semi-personal preference. An important note here is that there are different approaches in counseling (different theories, really). Due to these different approaches, people have different philosophies on the role of the counselor.
Our philosophy at The Counseling Hub is that we 'show up' as much as you do. This does not (absolutely no way) mean that we burden you with our problems, cry on your shoulder, or use you as our own therapist. No way. What this does mean, however, is that we don't have hidden agendas for you. If Courtney or I have questions to ask you, they're not going to be coming from a place of manipulation or (again) with a hidden motive in mind. They're going to be genuine, in-the-moment questions for you to reflect on and, hopefully, gain some insight from.
Someone Who Keeps The Focus On YOU
This also seems obvious, but in case it's not, let me briefly explain.
Your counselor should keep bringing the focus of the session back to you. You'll probably hear little anecdotes here and there about your counselor's life, but those should be related to the topic of the session and/or conversation that's currently taking place. If your counselor attempts to one-up you by saying, "You think that's bad? Get this..." and then goes into a long diatribe about how they're had a worse/better/more intense experience than you, then you would be safe running for the hills (or asking for a referral).
It's your space, your time, your money, and your counseling. Note that consistent word? Yes, it's 'your.' Be wary of a counselor who spends more time talking about themselves than they do focusing on what you want to focus on.
What About A Counselor Who...?!
I'm sure there are more examples that I'm missing. If you're not sure how to find a good counselor, just call or email and ask! I'm not in the business of forcing you to come see us at The Counseling Hub, but I am in the business of helping. While I think that we're especially wonderful and qualified, I know that everybody has a different preference and, more than anything, I want people to find a counselor with whom they can get work done (and that takes a level of comfort that's hard to fake).