I Think I May Want Counseling, But I Don't Know How To Begin...
How do I find the right counselor? Where do you begin the search? Counseling is an investment into yourself, your family, your relationships, and you’re future, here are some pointers for looking for the help that fits you and your life.
Finding the counselor:
Ask for recommendations from your friends, colleagues, doctor, etc.
Do a google search
Search a psychotherapy directory such as psychologytoday.com, or goodtherapy.org, or openpathcollective.org (this last one is a registry of therapists that have signed up to offer low-cost services.)
Check your insurance company for a list of local providers that accept your insurance AND find out what your out-of-network benefit is - you might just be quite pleasantly surprised, this choice can be a good one.
How do I pay for counseling?
Well, that depends. Some insurances have decent behavioral health coverage, other insurances have no behavioral health coverage at all, others have very high deductibles that would be tough to meet. So, before you shop, know what your policy is so you know the cost of using it or not. Here are some things to know while you begin screening through counselors if you are using insurance:
Who is your insurer?
What is the co-pay and the deductible for counseling.
Can you use “out-of-network” providers? (This is an option that may open up a lot more options for you and not cost much more.) . You might just be surprised how decent your coverage is. Better is a company that will find out your out-of-network insurance benefit for you and they will file your bills for reimbursement or to apply against your deductible.
Other Considerations about Insurance:
Some people have concerns about their insurance (or Employee Assistant Programs) sharing or leaking personal information to their employer. I am not qualified to speak to this. I think in the end, it boils down to feeling comfortable and safe, if you have reservations about using your insurance and privacy, then it is likely worth it to opt not to use it.
How Long Does Counseling Take?
A typical arrangement would be for a client to have weekly appointments. This isn’t always the case, but for the sake of this discussion, let’s assume that is what you will be doing. Also, you can expect to have a several appointments (perhaps as few as three or four, or maybe as many as 12 or 20). Again, for the sake of this discussion, let’s think about 10 appointments. Things to consider are:
Schedule counseling to minimize stress. Try to make a weekly meeting, same day, same time, this is so much less stressful than hopscotching through your weeks or trying to book appointments by the seat of your pants.
Remember to account for any commute time. A one-hour session that is a three-hour round-trip might be tough and stressful after a couple of weeks.
This is health care, so using a sick hour or other time off is entirely appropriate, schedule the time, plan for it, commit to it.
Think twice about scheduling on your day off –it’s tempting to want to do counseling on Saturday, but you don’t want counseling keeping you from family time, trips, or keep you from recreating. Saturday may be right for you…but think about it.
Things to look for:
A counselor should return your call within the period of time their voice recording indicates.
Your counselor should offer you a free consultation (which is usually just a phone conversation) before booking any intake appointments.
If you have any concerns about professional conduct, standing, or complaints, you can check the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) at Colorado.gov.
Read the profiles, look for a connection. Find a few names and make the calls/send the emails – do it all at once. Give yourself some options so you can consider all of the aspects, the connection to the therapist, finances/ insurance, and logistics. Most counselors I think will agree that connection (between you and your counselor) is critical, counseling is all about relationship after all. That said, don’t underestimate the importance of figuring schedule, financial concerns, and logistics into your choice. Effective counseling, is the kind of counseling you are able to sustain for at least several weeks.
Online counseling is a great option for many folks, no more concerns about commute time. Online (telemental health) can save the day if your schedule is sometimes disrupted (staying home with sick kids for instance), if you are traveling, if you don’t have reliable transportation…you get the picture. Online counseling isn’t necessarily for everybody, but many people are surprised that they feel very comfortable and feel that they get more out of it than face to face contact.
If you would like to call me for a telephone consultation, you can reach me at (719) 551-5283, I typically return phone calls the same day, if I receive it in the late afternoon, I’ll call the following day.