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WhitneyNWhiteLPCI Oct 18, 2016

Signs You’ve Found the Right Counselor

One of the reasons that I became a counselor is that once upon a time I needed a counselor and I couldn’t find the “right” one. I went to ten counselors before I found one that was right for me. I realized through that process that not every counselor is right for every client. Our science is very much a science, but the way we apply and deliver it is partly art, particular to the counselor. Every person deserves that one counselor whose approach, specialty, and personality are right for their wellness. I became a counselor because I know that I can be that right counselor for people.

So, how do you know when the counselor is right for you?

  1. Good connection! The therapeutic alliance has been shown over and over to be the biggest factor in success in counseling. This is the relationship you and the counselor develop. If it isn’t there and you don’t hit it off, it’s really difficult to build trust and move forward in the ways you need. Look for the counselor you “click” with.
  2. Aim for a specialist. I don’t necessarily mean one with certifications for this or that (because these aren’t all well regulated!) but look for one who notes they work with or are familiar with your particular needs. If you’re wanting to work on anxiety, find a counselor who says they’re comfortable working with that. Find out how comfortable they are with it by how they speak the language. Are their descriptors, understanding, and language congruent with your feelings or experiences? Ask if their theoretical approach is one that has been utilized with anxiety successfully.
  3. Your counselor values your time. Your counselor should value your time by making sure that they keep appointments with you and don’t reschedule you frequently. If they’re having trouble keeping a schedule it’s probably not a good fit. Especially if you’re like me and you have your own jam packed schedule to adhere to.
  4. Your counselor challenges you appropriately. You probably don’t want to go to counseling to argue. It’s most likely that at least some part of why you’re going includes wanting to grow and change. You can’t do that if someone agrees with everything you say even when there is clearly a different perspective. Make sure your counselor keeps it real so you can get what you need from your sessions.
  5. Your counselor doesn’t tell you what to think or offer judgments. While you do want some challenges to old ways of thinking or behaving, you don’t deserve judgments on your life or tips on what belief system to have. Your counselor may help you unpackage your own ideas and judgments on a situation, but they don’t need to offer their value judgments as you do it. Professional counselors are trained to keep their beliefs and opinions out of the counseling relationship.
  6. Your counselor lets your sessions be about you. Interruptions and too much time with the counselor talking at you leaves you little time to use your counseling time. When your therapist talks less than you do, it’s a good thing.
  7. Your counselor is focused on you. Your counselor has their phone on silent and put away, focuses on you, doesn’t have a spaced out distant look, and really seems to be engaged with what you’re discussing or working on. Taking calls, texts, or knocks on the door during your session isn’t ok except in real emergency situations.
  8. You feel better. Counseling can be a painful process. It isn’t always fun to really dig into ourselves and examine things or discuss hurts. That’s normal. But, feeling good after several sessions or even at the end of every session and/or noticing a difference after a few visits is a good indicator you’ve found counselor-gold J

It comes down to trusting yourself when it comes to finding a counselor. Trust your intuition when it tells you you’ve found a good one. Use these signs to help yourself gauge where you’re at in finding the right one. Speak up for yourself when you feel like you don’t understand some part of your counseling time or you’re not liking the experience. A good counselor will want to hear about it! Remember that one bad counselor doesn’t equal counseling is all bad! 
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Whitney N. White is a counselor serving rural Texas in both non-profit agency and private settings where she works with children, adolescents, and adults. Some of her areas of special interest are anxiety, non-suicidal self-injury, compassion fatigue, and religion and spirituality in counseling. With an integrated approach that utilizes client strengths, she supports others in achieving their best self. For more information please visit: https://counselingbywhitney.wordpress.com/ 

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