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About a week ago I blogged about "7 Benefits to Counseling." This prompted Misty and I to discuss how to find the right counselor. Choosing a good counselor can be very personal. It is a subjective decision that must be carefully weighed. Here are some steps that may help you in selecting a counselor who is a good fit for you:

1. Consider the type of counseling you need. There are many different types of counseling, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychoanalytic therapy, and humanistic therapy, among others. Each type of counseling has its own approach and techniques, so it's important to research and understand which type of counseling may be best suited for your needs. If you want counseling from a biblical point of view, it is a necessity to find a good Christian counselor. I cannot stress this enough. Secular counselors may not see through a biblical lens.

2. Look for licensed and qualified counselors. Check the qualifications and credentials of the counselor you are considering. Look for counselors who have a license or certification in their area of expertise. For instance, many counselors will have "LPC" or another title that references their specific certification. There is nothing wrong with approaching a minister or a friend for advice, but you must keep in mind that they may only present advice based on their own personal experiences. For you own benefit you should probably seek someone with a resume full of accolades and experience.

3. Read counselor reviews and testimonials. I've been a Google reviewer for over 5 years now. I check Google, Yelp, Angi and social media pages before choosing a restaurant, plumber or hotel. Why is picking a counselor any different? Look for reviews and testimonials from previous clients to get an idea of the counselor's style, approach, and effectiveness. Also, ask around and find out who other people in your area recommend.

4. Consider the counselor's experience. Certifications are very important but don't discount the time they've been in practice. Find out how long the counselor has been practicing and whether they have experience working with clients who have similar issues to yours. Many clients leave their first counseling experience with a negative attitude because they do not do their due diligence.

5. Assess the counselor's demeanor and communication style. Some counselors may offer an initial phone interview. It's important to feel comfortable with your counselor. Consider whether you feel at ease with the counselor's demeanor and communication style. You may be looking for someone thorough, or possibly someone with good bedside manner, or a clear voice. Look around.

6. Consider the logistics. Think about practical considerations such as location, availability, and cost. You may want to consider whether the counselor offers virtual sessions or has flexible scheduling options. In our current age there are fewer excuses for avoiding counseling.

7. Heed their advice. If it sticks, then stick with them. Most counselors carefully consider your situation, your specific needs and the best way to move forward. Don't ignore their advice. Listen. Follow. And choose to grow through the experience. You can't blame the counselor if you never heeded their advice.

Ultimately, the most important factor in choosing a counselor is finding someone who you feel comfortable with and trust. It may take some time and effort to find the right counselor, but the benefits of working with a skilled and supportive professional can be invaluable.

Your mental health must be taken seriously. I urge you to visit with a mental health professional if you (or a loved one) struggles with mental health. There is hope! Take your mental health seriously.

You are loved.

Dr. Ray Reynolds

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