This past week I decided to take the big leap and begin going to therapy. Now, it may seem weird to some of you, or most, that someone who is going to school to become a therapist would consider this a big leap. It is… for all of us! I am a huge supporter of the change therapy can bring to an individual, couple, marriage or family; even if it is in regards to minor concerns about one’s life. However, having to admit to oneself that one’s problems are not fixable without help is a scary thought and can even cause some anxiety during the process- no one really likes to admit they have issues, small or large, even if they have been to therapy before. Taking this step is, as I said, a big deal. You are about to let someone in and tell them things that you might not have told others before. It may, and probably will, be tough at first, but the end result of counseling is worth the uncomfortable feelings in the beginning.
Now, you made the choice to see a therapist… but what are the next steps? Well first, take a deep breath and remind yourself that you have already accomplished the hardest step – acknowledging you need help.
There are a few crucial steps you should complete before seeing a therapist, maybe even before you set up an appointment. This time is for you to sort through counselors and find the one that is going to benefit you the most. This may be even harder for some people than just deciding to go to counseling. I know for me, I am struggling with looking for the one that will work best for me and my situation because how am I supposed to know who that is before sitting down with them? This is not easy to determine, but some good news is that some therapists will offer a free brief phone consultation with them so that you can get a chance to talk and discuss what you’re looking for before the initial appointment. This can be a very beneficial tool as you decide if the therapist you are talking to seems like a good fit for you. Of course, it is not uncommon for the first therapist you find to not be the best one, but that is okay! Don’t lose hope and keep looking – you’ll find the right one eventually!
Okay, so where to get started? YourmindYourbody has posted a few articles by Dr. Stephanie Smith pertaining to the beginning steps when seeking counseling for the first time, or even a second or third etc. In this article, “Ok, I Want to See a Psychologist, Now What?,” the Dr. Smith outlines a few questions one must ask themselves before deciding on a counselor. The questions you should ask when seeking therapy are –
- What type of counseling am I looking for? Individual? Marriage/Couples? Family?
- Do I want to use my insurance for therapy? If no, how much am I willing to spend at most?
- What do I want to focus on in counseling? Is there more than one focus?
- How far away am I willing travel to go to see a therapist?
- What days and times can I set aside for a session?
Knowing the answers to these questions is essential in finding the therapist that will help you grown and learn the most. You need to know what type of counseling you want, to see what therapist offers those services. It may be individual counseling at first, but do you think it may be beneficial to add in another person at some point? You don’t need to know these answers right now, but it may be something you want to consider when picking a counselor.
Along with this, deciding on whether or not you would like to use your insurance is a big factor. If you do want to use it, you would want to look for counselors who are in your network. If you decide not to use your insurance, you will pay the session fees out of pocket. Remember, if you decide to use your insurance, the counselor is required to send in a diagnosis – this diagnosis will go in your file and will stay with you forever, even your potential employer can see it.
I find that figuring out what I want to focus on in therapy is the hardest part, but most influential in my decision making. Not only will you want to find a counselor who specializes or has some background in the area(s) you want to address, but essentially this is the reason why you are coming to therapy – you notice some concerns with an aspect of your life and you want to improve on it. Identifying these areas needing to be addressed and sharing this with your (potential) therapist will provide them some insight as to how to they should structure your sessions. All of this can be a bit overwhelming, but thinking of the answers to these questions prior to searching for therapists can help you narrow down your search and find the right one while still keeping in mind your needs and requirements.
Once you have narrowed down your search to a few therapists, it is time to contact them. The other article by Dr. Smith, from yourbodyyourmind entitled “The First Step: Making Your First Appointment with a Psychologist .,” talks about the process of setting up the first therapy appointment. Depending on your comfort level with the situation, you can decide if you would rather call them or email them – emailing them can make it a bit less nerve-wracking since you are able to take your time in responding and talking with someone! Either way, one must keep in mind a few questions to ask before making an appointment, and Dr. Smith give 3 specific ones to always ask –
- Are you taking new patients?
- Do you work with ______ (men, women, children, teens, couples)?
- Do you accept insurance/what are your session fees?
Before you even begin to talk about open appointment times, you need to make sure you ask these 3 questions – they will provide you with understanding on whether the therapists will meet the needs/requirements you decided on prior. If all your questions are answered to your liking and you feel comfortable when talking to them you may have found the right one, but remember what I said before – the first one may not be the right one, but keep trying because the best one for you is out there!
Remember, it is normal to feel anxious and nervous when looking for a counselor. If you think it may be time for you or your child to see someone individually, give us a call at Life Skills Resource Group Orlando at 407-355-7378 to schedule a free phone consultation with one of our Orlando Mental Health Counselors, our Orlando Child Counselors, Orlando Adolescent Counselors, and Orlando Teen Counselors for individual counseling in Orlando. If you feel that you and your partner, or you and your family could benefit from couples counseling in Orlando, marriage counseling in Orlando, or family counseling in Orlando, our Orlando Marriage Counselors, Orlando Couples Counselors and Orlando Family Therapists would be happy to help improve your romantic and family relationships to where you want them.
The search for the right counselor and therapist can be a tedious one, but taking your time can ensure that you find the best fit! ~Sabina