How to Find a Counselor & Prepare for an Intake
Just like an attorney your counselor works for you. Taking time to consult multiple counselors to ensure you get a good fit is so worth the extra work. And because you are putting your brain in their hands, make sure you choose someone who is trustworthy. How do you know if the counselor you have found is actually a good fit? Let’s talk about all that. I’ll also let you in on how to prepare for an intake and what questions you need to ask.
Counselors what they do and how to find the right one.
Counseling is more socially accepted now than it has ever been. You can find counselors in almost every town, and they all seem to have an Instagram account. I couldn’t be more thrilled how valuing mental health is becoming normalized.
If there was ever a time we need to seek help it’s now!
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, whether viewed as a good investment or not, asking for help is pretty brave. It is much easier to ignore what’s going on inside of your heart and what’s going on around you.
Counselors are mental health professionals who help you through all sorts of things. This can be an addiction, stress, marital or familial problems, or past trauma.
Counseling is helpful in providing a safe space to process and work through problems, and getting perspective from someone who is not involved. It’s like having someone guide you through a maze.
Not all counselors are the same though. Training plays a huge role in what they can help with and who they help- based on age, gender, or type of difficulty.
Biblical Counselors are not to be confused with mental health counselors. They are not necessarily trained or have any sort of license or certification. Biblical counselors are trained to deal with conflict and difficulty in a biblical way. Christian counselors are Christians that are licensed to counsel people and are not the same as biblical counselors. The problem with biblical counselors is:
- They are not trained on how to deal with abuse.
- The typical goal is to keep the marriage together.
- Not all scriptures are interpreted correctly.
- They usually re-victimize the abused person.
- Scripture is often used to abuse and control, and biblical counselors don’t always help undo this but can further the damage from misused scriptures.
I am sure that there are good biblical counselors out there, but if there has been abuse, this is not the best choice.
Individual Vs. Marital Counselor
A marriage counselor is typically who couples see when there is a problem in the marriage. However, when there has been abuse this is not the best choice.m
The main goal of a marriage counselor is to strengthen the marriage. Some counselors believe that there needs to be a give-and-take from both the abuser and the victim.
If you are looking for a counselor due to marital abuse, it is always a good idea to get help on your own and have your husband get help on his own before coming together for joint counseling. It can be more productive and beneficial if approached this way because it adds an extra layer of protection for the woman.
You may need to read this post: 20 Things to Expect When Going Through a Divorce.
“Trauma-Informed” is somewhat of a buzzword, right now. But what makes a counselor truly trauma-informed? To become trauma-informed there is extra training (optional training) that is necessary for learning how to be sensitive to the trauma that someone may have. The goal is not to cause more trauma while trying to help.
Therapy for Children
Play therapy is often used for children who are young. This is beneficial because children play out what they feel, which helps the therapist know what areas your child may need help in.
You can help your child by helping them at home too. And by working with their therapist then your child will have a wonderful support system.
Even if only one parent is on board then. Want to know How to Support Your Child Through Trauma?
Sometimes therapists are willing to testify in court and give an idea of what the child is struggling with. Sometimes counselors will do this for free, and others charge (sometimes thousands of dollars).
Reunification (Reintegration) therapy
Reunification therapy is used when one parent is absent or has damaged their relationship with their child. Each therapist has a different way of going about reunifying the estranged parent and child. Here are a few ways a counselor may go about this:
- The counselor may facilitate visits with the absent parent for the purpose of allowing the children the opportunity to get used to more frequent interactions.
- The counselor may provide feedback to the estranged parent on how the interactions are going and how to make them better.
- The counselor may give the estranged parent tips on how to earn trust back.
- The counselor may help the children with verbalizing their feelings.
All of these may be a part of the reintegration therapy, a combination may be used. It is also possible that a counselor may only facilitate the visits, without really addressing any safety concerns or solving issues.
Finding the Right Counselor
Now onto the good stuff. How to find the right counselor starts with knowing what questions to ask. It’s not enough to just see if you are comfortable with them over the phone, because they will likely be polite and attentive. You can know more about them by asking questions that show you how they handle certain situations, what they think the best approach is, and how they’d handle certain situations.
You can state the specific qualities you are looking for in a counselor like:
- I am looking for someone who is kind and affirming.
- I am looking for someone who is knowledgeable in______.
These can help you and the counselor be aware of if the expected qualities match who that counselor is as a person.
Here are 10 Questions to Ask When Interviewing for Individual Counseling
- What have you done to ensure you are trauma-informed.
- Are you familiar with Domestic Violence?
- What would be your concerns for safety when a patient starts counseling while in an abusive marriage?
- What would therapy look like?
- How do you know therapy is working?
- What signs would there be if therapy is not working?
- What areas of your patient’s life do you feel are most fragile when dealing with abuse?
- Do you feel comfortable and equipped to counsel a patient whose been abused?
- Are you ever willing to testify in court if needed?
- Is there an added cost to testify?
15 Questions to ask on behalf of children
- How do you know therapy is working for a child?
- How would you know if a child is uncomfortable in a therapy session?
- Have you worked with children before?
- What things are you looking for during play therapy?
- Are you willing to do updates with the parents to talk about some general struggles the child may have?
- Are you willing to provide ideas on how to help the child at home?
- What is the best way for me to give you the child’s history?
- How long do you think therapy might be?
- What is your reintegration therapy process?
- What goals would need to be met in reintegration therapy before choosing to not continue visits?
- What situation would permit you to think that reintegration visits were not healthy for the children?
- How would you know if the children were, or warrant, comfortable with therapy with the estranged parent?
- How important is it to you that you are familiar with the children before they start joint visits with the estranged parent?
- What would be the things you are looking for in the children, and estranged parent, to ensure things are progressing (or regressing).
- What would my involvement look like?
Choosing a counselor should take as much time and consideration as it does to find an attorney. Actually, maybe more time and consideration. When you are going through the family court system, there are likely special obstacles you may face. Finding the right counselor can make some difference in your case, and the lives of you and your children.