How to Find the Right Counselor

It can be challenging and anxiety provoking to find the right counselor.

Sometimes it’s difficult knowing how to find the help that you specifically need.

This article’s tips will answer some questions, help develop a plan, relieve stress, and lead you to finding the right counselor.

Licensed Professional Counselors

A licensed professional counselor works with people in most areas of life:

Reducing anxiety; coping; adjusting to changes; dealing with depression and grief; overcoming trauma; fighting addiction; educating people about mental illnesses; family, marriage, and couples issues; relationships and communication; mental health disorders.

When choosing a counselor, look for someone who seems like they would be a good “fit”


Look at the counselor’s specialties, they should be mentioned or listed on the counselor’s profile and website.


• If you need help taking steps fighting an addiction, look for someone who specializes in addiction counseling.

• If you are going through a divorce, find someone who specializes in marriage and divorce.

• If you’re looking for Christian faith-based counseling, try searching in an online Christian counselor directory.

Approach to therapy / theoretical orientation

Check out the counselor’s approach to therapy and the theories they apply.


• Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
• Person-Centered
• Gestalt

Some counselors use a variety and combination of these.

Don’t stress on knowing the methods and theories, the counselor can teach you if you’d like to learn.

Having a basic understanding that these theories are out there can lend a hand in making a decision about who you see.

Certain theories are more appropriate than others when treating certain mental illnesses, the counselor will know these details.

When using health insurance

If you want to use insurance to cover the cost, contact your insurance and inquire about behavioral mental health providers in your area. Ask your insurance for a list of the providers.

Find out what your co-pay is.

If you’re seeking teletherapy, check to make sure your insurance covers it (again, check to see if there’s a co-pay because virtual mental health services might cost different than in-office services. This just depends on your insurance plan. As far as treatment goes, both in-person and teletherapy are highly effective).

Once you contact a counselor, double check that they accept your insurance.

When paying out-of-pocket

If for some reason the counselor doesn’t accept your insurance, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t see them.

Have a short discussion with them about the out-of-pocket fee and your budget. If money is really tight, ask if they have a pro bono spot available or if they have a sliding scale fee.

Another option is to ask the counselor if they can provide you a super bill. You can submit the super bill to your insurance, and you may be able to get reimbursed by your insurance.

Find a counselor through an online directory

Another way to find a counselor is to check online directories. Some of these directories allow you to filter, which saves time and helps you find a counselor who better suits your needs.

Psychology Today is a fantastic place to search for a counselor. TherapyDen is also an awesome site to look at. If you’re looking for a counselor who is plant-based or vegan, try Plant-Based Doctors.

Using an online directory is a great way to find exactly what you’re looking for.


If you have issues with affording mental health counseling, maybe seeing an Open Path therapist is right for you?

Connect with Open Path for more information.

Create a list of counselors and questions

When you find a counselor that you’re interested in working with, write down their contact information and website.

Create a list of five or so counselors and then visit their websites to learn more about them.

As you learn more, you may realize that they don’t quite fit your needs, so you can cross them off your list.

Jot down any questions that you may have for that counselor about their services.

Learn about the counselor through social media

You can learn a lot about a counselor’s approach, views, theoretical orientation, personality, vibe, etc, through their business’ social media page and blogs.

Check out what they post and write about. Look for pictures of their office, sometimes there are pictures to make clients feel more comfortable in knowing what to expect.

Contacting the counselor

Whether you’re contacting them through email or a phone call, make sure that you’re in a private space so that your confidentiality won’t be at risk when you share with them a little about what you are seeking help for.

Sharing a few sensitive details (main concern(s) and or goal(s)) helps the counselor determine whether they can help you or if they need to lead you to other services.

After learning more about the counselors, call them to have your questions answered or to schedule an appointment. I can’t speak for every counselor, but most offer a free phone consultation.

Ask about whether they accept insurance and the cost of session.

Ask about what you can expect during a session.

Ask about the paperwork process.

Ask any other questions that come to mind and that you wrote on your list.

If you’re having difficulty reaching a counselor by calling, consider emailing them. Counselors should have their emails set up safe and secure. Texting a counselor’s phone isn’t secure, so don’t use that method of contact.

Notice thoughts, feelings, & gut instinct

When you’re talking with the counselor on the phone, briefly check-in with your thoughts, feelings, and gut instinct.

Are you comfortable?

Do you see yourself sitting across from them?

Is your gut feeling telling you that this is the right person?

The gut instinct is usually accurate.

Ask friends and family

To get a better idea about what to look for in a counselor, ask your friends and family who are seeing one what they like about them. This isn’t a good way to get a referral, but it can give you an idea on counselor personality, traits, and practices to look for.

It can be tough finding the right counselor, but using these tips to create a simple plan will make it easier.

More counseling-related tips








Chain O’Lakes State Park, Noble County, Indiana

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14 thoughts on “How to Find the Right Counselor

  1. Shalom, Shannon! I just read your July 15, 2020 article, “How to Find the Right Counselor” after reading your article today: “Finding Affordable Mental Health Counseling.” I think they compliment each other very well. Together they make a great reference checklist and also a helpful guide to give to a hurting friend. Excellent!

  2. Great article on finding the right counselor, Shannon! “How to Find the Right Counselor” posted July 15,2020. It is an excellent checklist to have on hand for oneself or to refer a friend. I especially enjoyed the beautiful photo at the end from a trail at Chain O’ Lakes State Park, Noble County, Indiana!

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