I frequently suggest to family, friends and clients that they might look for a therapist to help them with various problems/issues they’re facing. Our behavior therapists at Green Mountain at Fox Run are a wonderful resource for the women who come to us. Their insight and wisdom about issues ranging from emotional eating to body image help our clients put things in perspective.
Back home, though, if a person doesn’t already know a good therapist, the question becomes how to find one. Just looking in the Yellow Pages seems a little too hit or miss, and beyond that, people feel stymied.
An article in this week’s Rutland Herald (our ‘major’ newspaper around here) says that the best way is to ‘seek referrals from people you trust, such as friends and family, clergy, professional organizations, other health care providers and your insurance company.’ But don’t stop there. Also do some of your own investigating. According to the National Board of Certified Counselors, you have the right to:
• Be informed of the qualifications of your counselor: education, experience, professional counseling certification(s), and license(s).
• Receive an explanation of services offered, your time commitments, fee scales, and billing policies prior to receipt of services.
• Be informed of the limitations of the counselor’s practice to special areas of expertise (e.g. career development, ethnic groups, etc.) or age group (e.g. adolescents, older adults, etc.).
• Have all that you say treated confidentially and be informed of any state laws placing limitations on confidentiality in the counseling relationship.
• Ask questions about the counseling techniques and strategies and be informed of your progress.
• Participate in setting goals and evaluating progress toward meeting them.
• Be informed of how to contact the counselor in an emergency situation.
• Request referral for a second opinion at any time.
• Request copies of records and reports to be used by other counseling professionals.
• Receive a copy of the code of ethics to which your counselor adheres.
• Contact the appropriate professional organization if you have doubts or complaints relative to the counselor’s conduct.
• Terminate the relationship at any time.
So next time you feel like you could use a little outside help, consider a therapist. And go armed to your first appointment with questions that will help you feel more comfortable talking to her or him. What may be most important, though, is the connection you feel with the therapist. If you don’t like the first one you visit, try others. It helps to feel like you can pour your heart out to your therapist, and there’s sure to be one around that fits that bill for you.