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Choosing A Counselor: What to Look for Before Your First Session

young man sitting on sofa using laptop to research about choosing a counselor and what to look for before your first session

Discovering how to choose a counselor or choosing a psychologist can be daunting. There are many types of mental health professionals with a dizzying array of letters after their names. It can be challenging to know what to look for in a counselor.

Choosing a counseling program is just as important as picking a reliable, trustworthy professional who makes you feel comfortable sharing your challenges, fears, and secrets. Thankfully, Connections Wellness Group offers experienced, compassionate counselors ready to help you on your healing journey.

To learn more about our mental health services or get started with counseling, call 940.360.4245.

What Do All These Letters Mean?

There are many different educational pathways for mental health professionals to pursue. It can sometimes be confusing when trying to choose a counselor. However, they are all committed to helping people heal, improve their quality of life, and manage their mental health. Here are some of the degrees you will most commonly find in behavioral health:

  • MD (Medical Doctor) – A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses. They can prescribe medications to help manage your symptoms.
  • PsyD (Doctor of Psychology): A doctoral degree in psychology that focuses on clinical practice.
  • MA or MS (Master of Arts/Science) in Counseling or Clinical Psychology: This type of master’s degree prepares students to become counselors, therapists and/or marriage and family therapists by providing advanced training in theory, assessment techniques, individual counseling skills, group counseling strategies and the foundations for practitioner-scholarship
  • LMHC (Licensed Mental Health Counselor): An independent mental health professional who has completed a master’s level program specifically designed for mental health professionals as well as supervision from another clinician with experience working with clients diagnosed with various mental illnesses.
  • LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker): This title is used by social workers who have completed an accredited graduate training program focused on interpersonal dynamics and psychopathology; they must also pass a state-recognized licensing exam before practicing independently as social workers.

At Connections Wellness Group, our licensed counselors and practitioners are dedicated to providing quality care for individuals seeking guidance and support.

How to Choose a Counselor

Here are a few things to consider before booking your first counseling session:

Do They Specialize in What You Need?

Many counselors specialize in areas of treatment to provide personalized assistance to their clients. Before booking a session, research the counselor’s specialties and determine if they can help you with the behaviors and patterns you want to address. Sites like ZocDoc and Psychology Today allow counselors to share their specialties as well as reviews from previous customers and clients.

Do They Suit Your Personality?

See if you can get an introductory call with your counselor. Having a quick 30 to 45 minutes before your first session to discuss your needs, what you’re looking for, and how your counselor can help you can allow you to get a feel for whether or not the relationship between both parties will work. Remember, you’re looking for someone who can help you and understand you and your needs. Finding someone you feel comfortable building a lifelong connection and relationship with is essential.

Do They Have a Location Close to You?

A counselor close to home or close to work will provide a positive and stress-free experience. A counselor who is an hour and a half away from you may cause your sessions to become less infrequent. When looking for a counseling professional, be sure to find someone who is close and easily accessible to where you’re located.

Do They Fit Your Budget?

If finances are a concern, make sure you’re upfront and honest at the start of your sessions. Many counselors will want to see you at least once a week, which means you’ll be making a significant financial investment in your health. If you’ve got insurance, you’ll first want to call your provider and see if they can help you with the financial costs attached to counseling. See what your health insurance covers, and if possible, speak to your counselor about working out a plan.

Reach Out to Connections Wellness Group Today

The right counselor will make you feel safe, secure, and heard. Be sure to do your research before selecting your counselor. If you’re looking for additional assistance with individual counseling, our offices at Connections Wellness Group can help.

Our diverse group of counselors specializes in grief and loss, addiction, depression, anxiety, and many other behaviors, symptoms, or topics. Appointments can be scheduled within 24 hours. Please call 940.360.4245 or contact us online to set up your first session today.