Do Your Homework
Before you make random calls, get prepared. Keep an open-mind, though, you should basically know what you want help with and the type of person to assist you. Most establishments or practices will have a website that will list their counselors, including a short bio on each with their specialties.
Make a list of several that come across as appealing to you and check those against your In-Network provider list online. You can always call your member services and the representative will look up the providers for you.
Always check with your company to see if they have an EAP. An Employee Assistance Program can also provide help on finding a provider and might give you a deal or even free sessions to start with.
Please Note: If you do not have health insurance, please still call around to find a therapist/counselor. There are some that will work on a sliding scale or maybe a practice that specializes with low-income situations.
Once you have found at least 2-3 counselors you will need to prepare to call and make the appointment. For some individuals this is a really difficult task. Think of it as a business call, have a few questions at hand, and a pen. Breathe and focus.
Some of the websites have contact forms to fill out and send in a request to contact you. That route may work, or may not. If you do that instead of call, wait 3 business days for a reply and then call in.
Don't worry, you probably will get a machine or office staff when you call. If you get anxious making outbound calls then come up with a quick script to reference, along with your questions. You want to include these - Is the therapist accepting new patients? - How long until they will reach out to you to make the first appointment? - And how far out is the appointments being scheduled? Add in any other questions about billing, if they will work with your EAP, sliding scale options, etc. Then expect a return call - keep open dates in mind at the initial call and keep that updated list with you.
After you have gotten your answers from the different practices, make your decision and finally the appointment. Yay! You are almost done with the initial hard parts!
Getting Ready for the First Meeting
For the days leading up to the appointment you need to possibly fill out their intake paperwork and make a personal list of everything that is going on with you - emotionally, mentally, and physically. Do a big brain dump and maybe organize it a bit from there, like subject, importance, etc. The main thing is to have a starting place of what you want to tackle first, they will ask and they will think you are awesome for being well prepared!
The Big Day
Stick to your normal routine as much as possible! Leave with plenty of time to get there, fill out any paperwork that wasn't done pre-appointment, and relax for a few minutes. Play a game on your cell, read a book or magazine - anything to keep your brain busy to pass the time while you wait. And you should definitely expect to wait up to 10 minutes past the scheduled time. I have no clue why, but majority do that. By the way, don't you dare leave!! Keep that booty planted in that chair in the waiting room until he/she comes to call on you. Just have patience.
Okay, it's time. You've Got This! Take a seat and try to relax, you came prepared and ready for this meeting. This is an interview for both of you! Always remember that you don't have to answer any question that makes you uncomfortable. Feel free to ask questions too about their years practicing, education, techniques they use…just don't expect a lot from this first session - it is all about getting to know you and to find out if you both can work together.
During and after this visit, you must be honest with yourself and the therapist! No connection? Say so! Have a concern? Speak up! If your counselor doesn't act like you are a brand new chapter novel they want to read or gives you any feelings that you'd be unhappy sitting across them once a week - then you need to continue your search. Trust me, you'll thank me later. Remember, this is to help you - not them! If you don't feel okay telling them in person that they aren't a good fit then ask to think it over when prompted to schedule your next appointment. The worst thing to do is keep going to the same person if it's not helping you. Be selfish, it's a must when finding the right therapy for you. Start over until you find him/her.
Once you do find the right therapist - CELEBRATE! Be proud of yourself and keep going - hold you accountable for you.