Here are some details to consider when choosing a counselor.
1. Ask yourself if a counselor is right for you
Questions you may want to consider before contacting a counselor are:
These questions may help you to consider what has worked for you in the past, what has not, and to determine your need for professional involvement.
2. Find the right match
When considering what counselor to choose, you may want to ask friends for recommendations of people they have found helpful. In addition, it is appropriate to try a session or two with a counselor and see how well you work together. If you don’t find that you’ve made a good connection, feel free to try a different person for a session until you get the right fit (after first ending your relationship with the initial counselor). While it is not wise to switch counselors in the middle of therapy, it is appropriate to do some exploration in the introductory stages to find a person you feel comfortable working with. You may also let the counselor know you are in the process of exploring a good fit and would like to try a few sessions before you commit to working with that particular person.
Location and appointment availability are also important factors to consider. You are more likely to go to regular appointments if they fit your schedule and if the location is convenient to you. Also, consider if you would prefer working with a male or female counselor, or if it makes a difference at all to you.
3. Know your counselor’s experience and approach
The following questions are helpful to ask when selecting the right counselor. Feel free to request to speak with the receptionist at the agency or the counselor themselves if you have questions. These questions may help you narrow the field. Many counselors are willing to answer questions over the phone when you are inquiring about their services. More detailed questions may be discussed during the first session.
4. Understand payment and scheduling details
Counseling is an investment in your mental health and in your relationships. It’s not cheap—you can expect to pay between $80-150 per session. Counselors with doctoral degrees will be on the higher end of that range and some may have a sliding scale (discounted rates based on your income level), so be sure to ask. Here are some questions to consider:
5. Know your counselor’s policy on insurance coverage
Some counselors do not accept insurance or don’t participate in insurance panels because they want to protect your confidentiality. Insurance companies require counselors to provide a diagnosis for clients before they can be reimbursed. Many clients DO NOT have a diagnosable disorder. To give a diagnosis just for insurance reimbursement purposes can put the counselor in an unethical and fraudulent position.
Most insurance companies use a managed care company to manage the consumers’ mental health benefits. These companies require a treatment plan be submitted after the initial authorization for sessions. This means that counselors may have to answer questions that pertain to your treatment and give any additional information requested in order for more sessions to be approved. Also, your diagnosis is entered into a computer database which the company says is confidential; however, often your diagnosis and other pertinent information is fed into a national medical information database (MIB) that centralizes information for approximately 700 insurance companies. At the very least it would be on record that you saw a therapist for some type of mental illness. This database information is accessed if you subsequently apply for any individual life, disability or health insurance during the next seven years.
Even if your counselor doesn’t accept insurance, you may still be reimbursed. Check with your insurance company to see if they reimburse for “out of network” mental health care and how much your plan will reimburse you. After paying your fee in full at the time of the appointment, counselors can provide you with a receipt or statement with the necessary information you will need to send a claim to your company.
6. Understand your counselor’s credentials
Research indicates that the quality of a therapist’s work is less related to their degree or license and more related to their experience and training. Mental health is a very broad subject and covers a great deal of ground. No one professional (or even one group of professionals) can know everything there is to know about all aspects of mental health treatment. Consequently, mental health professionals usually have particular treatment areas they specialize in beyond their general training in mental health issues. Feel free to discuss any questions that you have concerning a professional’s training and experience on a given mental health issue with the professional of your choice.
In order to be licensed by the state of Ohio, all of the professionals listed below have completed a specified time of clinical training, supervised experienced, and have passed an examination given by the State. All mental health professionals who work in independent practice have some form of postgraduate training (graduate school or medical school). In the state of Ohio, all licensed mental health professionals are required to obtain some form of continuing education units by attending additional training in order to renew their license.
Licensed mental health professionals in Ohio include: