What if I Hated Therapy? Pt. 5
Welcome to the final blog post in this series! Find information about different ways that therapeutic relationships can go awry in part 1, common theoretical orientations that counselors adhere to in part 2, information on therapists’ credentials and payment in part 3, and different modalities of counseling in part 4.
Let’s finish up the full breadth of options in choosing mental health care with common settings in which you could receive care.
Private Practices typically include a shared waiting room with other clients and a private space for when you actually go into the therapy session. Sometimes there are group practices in which therapists share a building with separate offices and occasionally a therapist might be alone in renting the building.
Agency/Counseling Centers can include a non-profit organization or a larger group practice setting and may include several therapists who are still under supervision. These settings will have a reception/waiting area and can be quite busy due to a large volume of clients.
Outpatient Hospital Clinics are located either in a separate building by the hospital or located within the hospital itself, but all will have reception and waiting areas where you may come into contact with other clients. This setting is convenient if you are taking medication and need to get a checkup within the same location. The hospital setting can be considered clean and safe to some but might evoke strong negative feelings for others, so being aware of how you feel about hospitals in general is important before deciding on this modality.
School-Based Programs include university-based counseling centers that are able to provide services to enrolled students as well as grade-school counselors. The university settings will be similar to the agency setting described above in that there will be a waiting room that may get quite busy.
Community and Religious Spaces are another setting for counseling offered in either community centers, senior centers, or churches. Typically these settings do not have waiting rooms, and you may be more likely to run into someone from the community due to the multiple purposes of these buildings.
Your Home is another choice a therapist may be able to offer due to mobility or transportation issues. (1)
Now that we’ve gone over all of the steps to consider when choosing mental health care, you may feel even more overwhelmed. Fear not! Click here to download my convenient infographic that spells out these steps in a more visual and condensed way. Refer to it whenever you need a refresher.
But wait, there’s more!
All of these steps will hopefully help you understand the facts involved in mental health care options, but what about the emotional considerations involved? What about your gut feeling and the fit between you and your counselor?
Keep in mind that some settings and types will be more limited in choice than others. For example, there are a variety of LPCs in private practice to choose from, so you can be pickier about who you think will be a good fit for you. But for some agencies and community centers, there is no option to choose your therapist; rather they are assigned to you. (3)
The emotional considerations are harder to measure. One of the best resources available to you is a counselor’s mission statement.
These are some examples from fellow interns Brittany, Kristen, and Ryan at Counseling South Austin, as well as mine here. Pay attention to how these statements make you feel when you read them. Picture that counselor in front of you saying those words in your darkest moment and see if they produce good, bad, or neutral feelings. Keep browsing until you find one that speaks to you. Chances are the way they write their profile will be a good reflection of what they’re like in session with you.
Still not convinced? Call the counselor using the contact information provided and see if they offer a free consultation of some kind.
Some counselors offer in-person consultations which offer an even better taste of what it would be like to work with them — you meet in person, see the office where you’ll be doing the work, and pick up on any non-verbal behavior. This is the next step in deciding whether or not your needs fit with what they have to offer. Check in with yourself after that consultation and notice if you felt heard when you spoke, noticed their presence, or noticed any emotional red flags. (2) (4)
Even if you agree to work with someone and over time you realize that something doesn’t feel right, or the logistical considerations don’t work out (drive time, price, scheduling, etc.), you always have the option to switch counselors. Being up front and honest with your counselor about these feelings (if it feels safe to do so) is always the best policy, because you never know what could change if you ask for it.
Either way, choosing mental health care is a journey. Hopefully I’ve equipped you with some tools to help you along the way.
Thank you for reading through my blog series about what it would be like to reconsider going to therapy. Hopefully by now you are aware of the many options and also of what could go wrong realistically. Being better informed about the facts and emotional considerations can help to find a better fit. After all, your mental health is important and you deserve good therapy!
Any questions or concerns? Reach out in the comments or directly to my email. Keep in touch for more writing to come!
(1) Butina, B. (2009). Chapter 3: Settings for therapy. PsychCentral. Retrieved from: http://psychcentral.com/find-therapist/chapter-3-settings-for-therapy/
(2) Cleantis, T. (2011). How to find the best therapist for you. PsychologyToday. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freudian-sip/201102/how-find-the-best-therapist-you
(3) Henry, A. (2012). How do I select a therapist or counselor? LifeHacker. Retreived from: https://lifehacker.com/5874359/how-do-i-select-a-therapist-or-counselor
(4) Rubinstein, N. (2007). How to choose a counselor or therapist. GoodTherapy. Retrieved from: https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/how-to-find-a-therapist/
If you’re interested in learning more, you can email me here and I’d be happy to answer any questions. I am accepting new clients in South Austin at this time, so I’d be happy to set up a free 30-minute consultation with you.
This blog was edited by Samantha Rice
Julia Stamman, M.S., LPC-Intern
Supervised by Ann Stoneson, LPC-S