Sometimes, finding the right counselor can feel more overwhelming than trying to get by without help. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Simplify your search for a behavioral health counselor. Look for these five things when you’re considering who to see, and find the person who can help you best.
When you first start looking for a therapist or counselor, you might notice a wide range in the education and training required for different types of therapy. For behavioral health counselors, you might see that they have a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field. You can also expect that they’ll have a master’s degree in clinical psychology or something relating to their specialty. And they may hold a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor or Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor certification. Some master's candidates practice under supervision from licensed clinical staff. And all of that training is in addition to the hours of clinical experience they should have.
You want to feel a connection to your counselor. Sometimes this feeling of getting along is called a rapport. It can be hard to pin down what exactly makes you feel comfortable with a particular counselor. It can be their counseling style, personality, or personal experience that they bring to sessions. It might even be a shared experience that can help you trust their expertise. But don’t be afraid to try out different counselors if you don’t feel that connection.
Some counselors specialize in youth, seniors, LGBTQIA+, couples, addiction or other particular mental illnesses. It can help to find someone who has a background in what you’re going through. Not only can this put you at ease, but it can help them cut straight to the strategies that might help you most. When you’re seeking out behavioral health counseling, in particular, to better cope with behaviors relating to addiction, substance abuse or self-harm, it helps to look for someone with experience in those areas.
If you have insurance that will cover counseling, it is a big financial benefit to find a counselor you like who is in your insurance network. But not everyone has insurance to help lower the cost of counseling. If that’s your case, you may still be able to find a counselor at a clinic that offers a sliding fee scale based on income. This can make the cost of therapy free or more affordable, depending on your situation.
Today, there are several different options for how to hold a session. You can still go into the office in person to talk face-to-face. If this is your preference, it’s good to also consider whether the time and location of appointments will work well in your schedule. But many counselors will also offer phone or Zoom sessions in addition to or instead of in-person. If this might fit your schedule better, see if you can find a counselor who offers virtual sessions.
Community Health Partners is committed to providing affordable care to people in Southwest Montana. For behavioral health services via phone or Zoom, reach out to one of our clinics in Belgrade, Bozeman, or Livingston or programs run from the Town of West Yellowstone Offices.