Once an individual or couple decides to seek counseling, they are often overwhelmed with the choices available. There are many factors to consider when looking for a counselor to work with you or your family, such as physical, financial and emotional considerations.

Physical considerations include the location of the counselor in relation to your home or work. Another physical factor to consider is hours of operation. Counselors have a variety of hours in which they provide services to their clients. Most counselors have traditional hours available. Some counselors also offer early morning, evening and weekend appointments. Physical factors are important to consider as you may be less likely to complete treatment if you have to drive several miles out of your way or miss school or work to attend your appointments.

Financial factors to consider include determining if you will pay privately for services or if you choose to use benefits offered through your health insurance. The benefit of paying privately is that the counseling record is not monitored or accessible by third-party payers. Using insurance benefits may make counseling more affordable though you are then governed by the rules of the payer (how many sessions per day/week/year, out-of-pocket limits, type of service). Knowing this prior to choosing a counselor is important as you would not want to end treatment prematurely simply due to financial constraints.

Finally, though time, money and location are important, it is important to consider the "fit" of the client and counselor. Therapeutic fit takes into consideration such things as personality of both client and counselor, as well as style of the counselor (progressive, traditional, directive, passive, holistic), as well as modality (cognitive behavioral, psychodynamic, crisis, client centered, creative/artistic, somatic, solution-focused, short-term, etc.) and type (individual, couple, family, group, child, adolescent, adult). If you are not familiar with the differences, I recommend you do some research prior to choosing a counselor.

When you consider these factors, you will be able to make a well-informed and successful choice in your professional provider.

Mysti Rainwater is a licensed professional counselor. Her private practice, Center for Progressive Therapies, is located in Ahwatukee Foothills. Reach her at (480) 223-8263 or at counselor@mystirainwater.info.

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