Published on July 25th, 2013 | by Amy Jane Helmericks


(Blog) Recommend A Counselor

A friend asked me yesterday if I could recommend a counselor. She said she’s had negative experiences in the past and, well, you know.

The last time I got this question, I urged the person to visit my counselor. That didn’t go as well as I’d hoped and reminded me that something working for me is no guarantee it will work for someone else.

So here’s my short analysis: counseling is an investment, and even though initial appointments do cost more than ongoing (in my community in Alaska, at least), avoid thinking of that initial $30-$50 as important if you can help it.

You will be spending hours with this individual, and that getting hung up on that portion of the bill is not worth feeling like less of a person, or unsafe.

The best way to go into your first appointments is thinking of yourself as an employer. You are interviewing the provider, not the other way around.

The therapist/client relationship (ideally) isn’t a surrogate parent situation, and you should never feel cowed or embarrassed by your neediness in that room: your neediness is the point of your presence there, and the provider chose this profession to listen and be useful. If s/he is not able to provide that service, you are probably with the wrong counselor.

So my advice?

Remember you’re in charge, and you are the one who knows what you need. Make a list, or at least a guess, before you go, and ask questions related to what you understand so far.

It’s okay to feel a little uncomfortable. You are (probably) walking into new territory, and that will feel new and different. But it should be an anticipating and hopeful discomfort. If it is only discomfort, if it is only fear or a sick feeling anywhere in your body, then you don’t need to talk yourself into it.

This could be the wrong person, or just the wrong time. And like I tried to point out in my “It’s Not Me, It’s You: Find A Therapist Who Fits” article, we shouldn’t be surprised if it takes a few tries to find someone we feel right entrusting our care to.

For further information on things to be aware of, or question to ask as you interview potential care providers, check out this blog post. While it addresses sexual abuse in particular, the questions it offers are relevant to most types of personal counseling, and it goes a long way toward educating the newcomer to counseling about what she can, and should, expect.

Photo by Toby Keathley from Shot By The Best for Wyn Magazine.

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About the Author

Amy Jane Helmericks

is the Associate Editor of Wyn Magazine. She is a wife, mother, and word artist in Alaska encouraging others to confidence, freedom and self-respect through writing.

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