Therapists frequently give counsel and counselors frequently provide therapy. Sometimes counselors call themselves therapists and sometimes therapists call themselves counselors. If you are seeking help, it doesn’t matter whether the person you are speaking with is a counselor or a therapist. What matters is whether or not you’ve found someone who can help you. (See a complete list of mental health credentials here: Psychology Today: Therapist Credentials.)
The right person, whether they call themselves a counselor, therapist, or psychotherapist, can help you change your life. Finding someone to help in this endeavor is a very important decision. Our advice: shop around. Use the first appointment to see if you’ve found the right person. Don’t move forward unless you’re certain.
Here are a couple questions you should take with you into a first appointment:
- Can this therapist or counselor listen to me and talk to me and understand me in a way that helps me understand myself more honestly, more truthfully?
- Does this person have a deep knowledge base in the following areas: behaviors, emotions, addictions, self-deceptions, change, spirituality, and meaning?
- If I had to hear bad news, would I want to hear it from this person?
- Do I feel that he or she cares about me?
- Can I trust this person to help me change?