Counseling can be an effective treatment for mental and emotional problems. But in order to reap its benefits, it’s important to choose the right therapist—someone you trust who makes you feel cared for and has the experience & expertise to help you make changes for the better in your life. A good therapist helps you to become stronger and more self-aware, and a great therapist practice is one in which counseling services are the front line to your full mental well-being.
How counseling services can help
Talking about your thoughts and feelings with a supportive person makes you feel better. It can be very healing, in and of itself, to voice your worries or talk about something that’s weighing on your mind. And it feels good to be listened to—to know that someone else cares about you and wants to help.
It can be very helpful to talk about your problems to close friends and family members. But sometimes, we need help that the people around us aren’t able to provide. When you need extra support, an outside perspective, or some expert guidance, talking to a therapist or counselor can help. While the support of friends and family is important, therapy is different. Therapists are professionally-trained listeners who can help you get to the root of your problems, overcome emotional challenges, and make positive changes in your life.
You don’t have to be diagnosed with a mental health problem to benefit from therapy. Many people in therapy seek help for everyday concerns: relationship problems, job stress, or self-doubt, for example. Others turn to therapy during difficult times, such as a divorce.
Finding the right therapist & counseling services for you
Finding the right therapist will probably take some time and work, but it’s worth the effort. The connection you have with your therapist is essential. You need someone who you can trust—someone you feel comfortable talking to about difficult subjects and intimate secrets, someone who will be a partner in your recovery.
Therapy won’t be effective unless you have this bond, so take some time at the beginning to find the right person. It’s okay to shop around and to ask questions when interviewing potential therapists.
- Experience matters. One of the main reasons for seeing a therapist, rather than simply talking to a friend, is experience. Look for a therapist who is experienced in treating the problems that you have. Often, therapists have special areas of focus, such as depression or eating disorders. Experienced therapists have seen the problems you’re facing again and again, which broadens their view and gives them more insight. And for some problems, such as trauma or PTSD, seeing a specialist is absolutely essential.
- Learn about different treatment orientations. Many therapists do a blend of orientations. However, it’s a good idea to learn about the different treatment types, because that can affect your therapist’s way of relating and suggested length of treatment.
- Trust your gut. Even if your therapist looks great on paper, if the connection doesn’t feel right—if you don’t trust the person or feel like they truly care—go with another choice. A good therapist will respect this choice and should never pressure you or make you feel guilty.
- Look for a counseling practice that also employs a psychiatrist. This is especially helpful for those cases where medication may help your anxiety or depression symptoms, as well as ADD/ADHD. By selecting a practice that is able to dispense medication, you will save yourself time & money in trying to find an opening at a separate psychiatric clinic.
Questions to ask yourself when choosing a therapist
What’s most important in a therapist or counselor is a sense of connection, safety, and support. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Does it seem like the therapist truly cares about you and your problems?
- Do you feel as if the therapist understands you?
- Does the therapist accept you for who you are?
- Would you feel comfortable revealing personal information to this individual?
- Do you feel as if you can be honest and open with this therapist? That you don’t have to hide or pretend you’re someone that you’re not?
- Is the therapist a good listener? Does he or she listen without interrupting, criticizing, or judging? Pick up on your feelings and what you’re really saying? Make you feel heard?
Types of therapists and counselors
The following types of mental health professionals have advanced training in therapy and are certified by their respective boards. Many professional organizations provide online searches for qualified professionals. You may also want to double check with your state regulatory board to make sure the therapist’s license is up to date and there are no ethical violations listed.
However, keep in mind that lay counselors—members of the clergy, life coaches, etc.—may be able to provide you with a supportive, listening ear. It’s not always the credentials that determine the quality of the therapy.
|Common types of mental health professionals|
|Psychologist||Psychologists have a doctoral degree in psychology (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) and are licensed in clinical psychology.|
|Social worker||Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) have a Master’s degree in social work (MSW) along with additional clinical training.|
|Marriage and family therapist||Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) have a Master’s degree and clinical experience in marriage and family therapy.|
|Psychiatrist||A psychiatrist is a physician (M.D. or D.O.) who specializes in mental health. Because they are medical doctors, psychiatrists can prescribe medication.|
Is my counseling service working?
You should be able to tell within a session or two whether you and your therapist are a good fit. But sometimes, you may like your therapist but feel like you aren’t making progress. It’s important to evaluate your progress to make sure you’re getting what you need from therapy. Don’t get discouraged if your therapist isn’t the right fit- at a good counseling practice, they’ll be able to place you with another therapist to see if that connection works better for you.
A word of caution: There is no smooth, fast road to recovery. It’s a process that’s full of twists, turns, and the occasional backtrack. Sometimes, what originally seemed like a straightforward problem turns into a more complicated issue. Be patient and don’t get discouraged over temporary setbacks. It’s not easy to break old, entrenched patterns.
Ready to get started? Our counseling center is located in Lake Orion, near Clarkston. Contact us today!