How do I know if I need to see a counselor?
Similar to needing to see a doctor, or the dentist, we all go through seasons where it is necessary for a checkup. The same can be said for seeing a mental health counselor. If you find yourself in a difficult situation or season we would recommend calling a local counseling office and setting an appointment. If it has been on your mind, chances are you could benefit from sitting across from a professional and giving space for them to help and speak into the circumstance. There is no rulebook or checklist to tell you exactly when it is time to seek professional help, but picking up the phone and setting an appointment can be a great first step.
How do I find help?
A great first step is to ask your friends or family for a recommendation of a counselor or support group. Just like you might ask for a referral for a doctor, starting with people you know can help. You can also use the TWLOHA FIND HELP Tool to locate free or reduced cost treatment options in your local community. Simply select the level of care you are looking for and enter your zip code. Resources are listed in order of recommended, and then relevance and distance. You can adjust and customize filters to better improve your search results within the FIND HELP platform.
How do I know what level of care I need?
If you feel counseling is a good step, it’s common for a first counseling session to help identify if counseling would be a good fit. You can also talk to a counselor over the phone briefly about your experience to describe what might be a good fit. Treatment centers for substance use disorder will also provide some in-take assessments to see if you’re needing a specific level of care.
How do I find the right counselor?
Finding a counselor that you feel safe and comfortable with can seem overwhelming. If you have family or friends who have had positive experiences with a counselor, that is a great place to start. Just as you might ask for recommendations when looking for a doctor, dentist, or surgeon, you can also do so when searching for a counselor. Many doctors, church leaders, and school guidance counselors, may have referrals for you as well.
Know that it is okay to ask questions and have preferences. Here are some questions to consider to help you narrow down your search.
- Would you prefer to see a male or female?
- Do you know the type of therapy you are seeking?
- Do you need guidance on options and approaches available to you?
- Are you looking for faith based counseling or are you hopeful to avoid it?
- Would you prefer to see a therapist who owns a small practice, or would you prefer going to therapy connected to a larger healthcare provider?
These are just a few points that may come up. Counselors are typically very open to answering some basic questions before booking an appointment. It is important that you feel comfortable having base requests met before committing to a counselor or their approaches to mental health. You are worthy to ask for help in a way that fits your needs.
What are the different treatment options available?
I am a college / grad student…
Many universities have counseling offices directly on campus. Very often, group or individual counseling is available to students and included in your cost of tuition. Each campus is different, but we encourage you to find out what your options are. A great place to start is Human and Health Services, or College of Psychology.
I am an active duty military / a veteran…
If you live on an active-duty military base there is often treatment options available. You are not weak for reaching out. Your service presents unique difficulties and you deserve help and support. If you live on a base, we suggest you connect with the general doctor for more information regarding the mental health services available to you. If you do not live on a base or you are no longer in active duty, please check your benefit options—veterans are usually eligible for assistance through insurance.
Does my insurance cover mental health counseling?
Finding out your coverage via insurance can feel overwhelming. Know you are deserving to know what is available to you. All providers list insurance plan benefit packages. Look for “Behavioral Health Services” or “Mental Health Services” to see what your plan covers. Know it is okay to connect with your HR department / contact directly. It is a part of their duties to share what health care benefits are available.
If you are not receiving benefits through your employer most Medicaid programs offer some form of coverage. Check your state Medicaid director to learn more.
I am not covered through insurance. How do I afford treatment?
Always check with a counseling or treatment center to see if they offer scholarship opportunities, a slide scale, alternative options, or private pay rates. Each program varies, but most counseling offices will do everything they can to ensure that you receive the help you need. Group treatments are also an option. We believe finding community and stepping out of isolation can be an incredible treatment avenue that is often inexpensive or even free.
I went to counseling and had a bad experience...
Finding a professional that you feel safe and comfortable with can be hard. It is OK if you want or need to seek other options. It can take time to find the help you need. It is not any different than switching doctors, or seeking a specialist. Most counselors are willing to help you find the best fit and know of other professionals in the area.
I want to get help but I am not ready to see a counselor...
Acknowledging where you are in your journey is brave and admirable. If calling or texting a trained counselor sounds easier, please use the resources below. We have seen many folks start there and work their way up to seeing a counselor for the first time. There are many forms of group therapy hosted in community centers, churches, and other spaces.
Someone I know is struggling. How do I help?
Walking through difficult seasons with a friend or family member can be challenging. Presenting hope to your loved one by connecting them to our FIND HELP Tool can be solid first option. They may struggle to accept or acknowledge your help, but your support and putting them within reach of professional help can be instrumental in their journey to recovery.
Do you have more questions? Chances are you are not the only one. Please send any questions related to treatment and recovery to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to work to remove any potential barriers to hope and help that you might be facing. Your questions are welcome here.