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How do I find a counselor?

There are many different ways to locate a professional counselor. Some common ways include:

  •  The National Board for Certified Counselors referral service (phone NBCC at 336-547-0607 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday to find a certified counselor in your area)
  • The yellow pages listed under counselor, marriage and family counselors, therapist or mental health
  • Referral from your physician
  • Recommendations from trusted friends
  • Crisis hotlines
  • Community mental health agencies
  • Local United Way information & referral service
  • Hospitals
  • Child protective services
  • Referral from clergy
  • Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)

Once you have found a counselor you are interested in seeing, you should ask several important questions, such as:

  • Are you a licensed or certified counselor?
  • What is your educational background?
  • How long have you been practicing counseling?
  • What are your areas of specialization (such as family therapy, women's issues, substance abuse counseling, etc.)?
  • What are your fees?
  • Do you accept my insurance?
  • How is billing handled?
  • Do you offer a sliding fee scale or a payment plan if I do not have insurance for mental health services?
  • How can you help me with my problems?
  • What type of treatment do you use?

Some of these questions may be addressed during your initial phone conversation with the counselor and others may be more appropriately discussed in your first face-to-face meeting.

After you have had these questions answered to your satisfaction by the counselor, consider how comfortable you feel with the individual, since you will be working closely together during your counseling sessions. It is difficult to open up and share your problems with a stranger and you may feel awkward or anxious during your initial sessions. But it is also important that you have a "chemistry" or rapport with the counselor. Counselors have different styles, personalities, and approaches. Take time to evaluate how you feel interacting with the counselor and whether you believe that the two of you can work effectively together. If you do not feel at ease with a certain counselor, do not get discouraged. Instead, talk to your counselor about your concerns. Your counselor should help you look for a different individual with whom you would feel more comfortable working.

Together you and your counselor will set goals, work toward achieving them, and assess how well you are actually meeting them. Counseling can help you maximize your potential and make positive changes in your life. Finally, remember that counseling may be hard work at times but change and progress do happen. A professional counselor can provide the help and support to help you master the challenges of life.

Information on this page was taken from a variety of sources, including the American Counseling Association website.

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