Choosing a Counselor or Therapist

Ann Pultz Kramer, LMFT (951) 992-6373

How do I begin to find a counselor? I don’t have a clue!

choosing a counselorAre you confused about how to find the therapist for you? Don’t feel as though you are alone; finding a therapist is not a simple task, yet it’s an important one. Not every therapist and every client are the right match for one another. Each person may not be looking for the same quality or style in a therapist. In addition, therapist’s approaches to therapy differ and some people may not fit some approaches. Finally, the personality of the therapist and the personality of the client must be a good fit. The process of finding the right match for you may take a little time.

Where do I get a referral?

There are many ways to get the names of a counselor. Many insurance companies have names on their provider books or websites. However, this does not always tell you much about a potential counselor, only a few qualities. Also, you can go into directories or websites, such as the ones listed on my front page, which may tell you a little more, yet still does not tell you much about this person. Often, the people in your life who have benefited from a therapist can be a source of referral: friends, colleagues whom you trust, family and other professionals. Also you can ask other counselors for referrals.

How do I make a decision about the counselor for me?

It is a good idea to try to contact at least two counselors, if not more, to get an idea and a feeling for the differences between them and what you prefer and don’t prefer. Some offer a free consultation, while others will set aside some telephone time to talk with you briefly and answer questions. This is not a time to go into depth into your therapy issues. Briefly cover the issues and get to know him or her. Most often, when people call me, they will say to me “I have no idea what to ask”. So I ask if they have questions for me. The most common question I do hear is “How long have you been doing this? ” (I have been working with clients for over twenty years).

Sometimes people will ask, “How much do your clients improve when they are seeing you? ” (I have been singled out by some insurance companies I have worked with for having outstanding outcomes; which means that my ratings have been in the highest percentile of improved and satisfied clients.)

When people ask a counselor how they work,they may begin to talk in psychological languages that, unless you have studied psychology, may not make much sense to you. There are questions that may help you to get to know them in a manner that may make sense and be meaningful to you. Here are a few great questions that can get you started. (I’ve also included links to my answers to these questions in parenthesis)

Questions to ask yourself afterward

Once you have spoken with a counselor take some time to consider how the conversation felt to you.
Did you feel as thought the person was someone you could trust? Did they speak in a manner you could understand and relate to? Did they feel like someone you could talk to about personal and even embarrassing issues?

Pay attention to your feelings when deciding who is right for you.