5 Tips for Finding the Right Counselor for You
Do you know the most important element of success in therapy? Your relationship with your therapist. Individual counseling cannot work if you don’t trust who you’re talking to or if a counselor makes you feel judged, embarrassed or even ashamed of your struggles.
How you feel about your therapist determines how much you’re willing to share and discuss. If you don’t feel like you can trust them or feel judged, you’re more likely to withhold your deepest thoughts, lie about your feelings or just go silent during your sessions. You deserve someone you can build a therapeutic alliance with. That is a bond that you rely on to help you reach your shared goals and work together to achieve positive outcomes.
We believe that everyone deserves to find the perfect match when it comes to counseling, so we have designed this list of five tips to help you find a therapist.
Think About Their Core Characteristics
You may have an idea in your head of what a good therapist is like. Ask yourself what qualities they have that would make you feel most comfortable. This may include:
- • Gender – Are you more at ease with a man or a woman?
- • Age – Do you want to work with someone closer to your age or more experienced?
- • Religious background – Do you want a therapist who shares your religion and may be able to integrate that into therapy?
- • Specializations – Do you want a therapist who has expertise in a certain type of therapy or treating a particular condition?
Identify Your Struggles
Why do you want to go to therapy? If you are suffering from symptoms of depression, struggle with substance abuse or need support as an LGBTQ person, there are different forms of therapy appropriate for your problems. Of course, you don’t need a clinical problem to see a counselor. Individual counseling helps people with all sorts of issues, including breakups, death and grief, insecurity, loneliness and more. What is most important is knowing exactly why you want to see a counselor; this helps you express yourself more clearly and find someone who can help you reach your goal.
Research Every Therapist
You may come across a therapist in an online directory whose biography seems promising. But before you book a session, you should Google their name and read their website and/or social media profiles to see if they are someone you would be comfortable working with.
Ask About a Consultation
A good therapist will be happy to answer questions before booking a session. Send an email or schedule a phone call to talk to a therapist or mental health clinic that interests you. Let them know what you are looking for, what you need and ask if they would be willing to answer. You should ask about their background, their therapeutic philosophy and their experience helping people with your struggles.
Don’t Settle for Less Than You Deserve
You are never forced to stay with a therapist who you are uncomfortable with. You also don’t have to remain in therapy with a counselor who you don’t feel understands you or truly helps you. While you should always bring up any challenges or issues with a therapist first, it is also okay to end the relationship and look for someone who you feel better with. Remember, therapy is for you, so be open about your needs and don’t be afraid to voice your needs.
Learn More About Therapy Today
Contact us at Caring Heart Counseling to get help finding a therapist in Denver, Colorado. We are happy to answer your questions about therapy, insurance and more. Just let us know why you’re looking for counseling, and we’ll help you take the next steps in booking a session and working with one of our therapists.
The Benefits of Talk Therapy
When entering therapy for the first time, it’s not strange to wonder what you’ll get out of it. For someone who doesn’t know what therapy is truly about, they may feel like they’re simply going to pay someone to listen to their problems or be told how to resolve them. But talk therapy, also known as individual counseling, is much more than that. It is a place for you to feel safe, understood and heard by a professional, compassionate counselor who wants to help you thrive.
Overcoming any problem, whether it’s mental illness or general life hardships, requires resilience, patience and a belief that things can get better. Metal health problems, like trauma and depression, can warp your perception and cause you to rely on self-destructive or self-defeating behaviors that keep you stuck exactly where you don’t want to be.
By going to therapy, you can experience some major benefits that will gradually help you achieve your goals and live a life that you are proud of. Below are some of the benefits of talk therapy you could experience.
Better Understanding of Emotions and Their Causes
One of the major roles of a therapist is to help their clients gain a deeper understanding of themselves. You learn how to accept your emotions, even ones you are ashamed of or pained by, and how to cope with them. Getting to the root of their cause, as well as actions they’re provoking, can help you free yourself from unhealthy patterns.
For people who are dealing with loneliness from working from home, talk therapy is a wonderful opportunity to work through the anxiety, stress and isolation in a private, supportive environment.
Greater Feeling of Self-Control
When you know how to listen to and respect yourself, you are less likely to act impulsively or do things you regret. Therapy helps you develop coping strategies and skills that make you more confident in your ability to respond healthily to your problems.
Improved Confidence and Self-Esteem
As you work through your emotions and start to see your strengths, you begin to feel more confident. Even if you have spent your entire life with low self-esteem, you are filled with amazing qualities and potential that talk therapy can help you realize. Many people who are fighting with loneliness feel as though they aren’t worth loving or being friends with; therapy helps you see the good in yourself and recognize your value.
Improved Conflict Resolution Skills
People who struggle to make and keep friends or have issues in their relationships can benefit from talk therapy. You will learn how to become less reactive, less defensive and more empathetic through active listening. You’ll also learn how to communicate your own thoughts, feelings and needs in a way that doesn’t make you feel bad about yourself.
Better Boundaries and More Rewarding Social Interactions
Boundaries help you navigate your way through the world and cultivate the right relationships for you. Many people who come to therapy have no boundaries and don’t know how to develop or assert them. Talk therapy can teach you how to make healthy boundaries and use them to form and maintain more meaningful connections.
Learn More About Talk Therapy Today
Caring Heart Counseling offers individual counseling for children, teens and adults in Denver, Colorado. Our talk therapy services can help you overcome a variety of challenges. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help. If you feel like we would be a good match, we can help you book an appointment and pair you with the best fit from our team of supportive counselors.
Couple Counselling / Relationships
How to Talk to Your Partner About Couples Counseling
The decision to go to couples counseling is difficult. Although you may find it necessary, admitting that you need a professional’s help can feel like a personal failure. Couples might avoid the subject because it officiates the haunting feeling that things aren’t going as they should in the relationship.
But the only way to get better is to be honest. Bringing up the idea of couples therapy to your partner can be even more intimidating. You may not have talked about it, or you may fear that suggesting counseling only leads to greater confrontation and distance.
Although it is difficult, addressing the need for therapy when the need arises is always best. Waiting to get help only causes problems to continue and create a greater barrier between communication and intimacy. Couples counseling could be the step you and your partner need to rebuild and reconnect in your relationship.
Starting the Conversation
You should sit down with your partner and let them know exactly why you want to go to counseling. This requires a great deal of vulnerability and honesty, which can be hard to muster. But taking the first step can demonstrate to your partner how committed you are to them and the relationship.
Someone has to make the first move, though going to therapy is a mutual decision. Let your partner know that you love them, and explain what problems have led you to seek therapy without being accusatory.
Rely on I-statements to express yourself. Rather than saying, “You never talk to me anymore,” try, “I feel a disconnect between us, like we don’t talk as much as we used to. I don’t quite know how to reach you, and I’d like to work on that together. I miss sharing things with you.”
It’s important to explain how issues and actions on both sides impact you. Recognize your own partner’s feelings as well. A couples counselor will be there to honor both of your perspectives and your shared bond.
The conversation should also be centered around a goal that you can work toward together. Counseling is not a place to “fix” anyone, because none of us are broken or damaged. Instead, it brings greater awareness to problems and helps people find solutions using their unique strengths.
What Will Happen in Couples Therapy?
We will work with you to identify key issues in the relationship. We do not take sides, but instead opt to build greater trust and respect through mutual empathy. You will both be encouraged to listen with an open mind and heart and take accountability for your own actions.
To avoid falling into the same patterns of conflict, disconnect and avoidance, your therapist will guide the conversation to help you both learn to recognize and value each other’s side of the story. Unifying that story into a healthy, harmonious relationship is the ultimate goal.
Benefits of Couples Counseling
The greatest benefit of couples counseling for many is the opportunity to speak openly. It can be hard for couples to express themselves clearly in a relationship when there is anger, fear and anxiety clouding the connection between them. Therapy gives each person a place to be present, express themselves openly and discuss rather than judge and defend.
Couples from every age and walk of life can benefit from working with a counselor to improve their communication and build upon their strengths as individuals. It can be the stepping stone a couple needs to reach a deeper level of trust and intimacy that only comes from overcoming challenges together.
Online Counseling for the LGBTQ+ Community
The LGBTQ+ community experiences mental health problems more frequently than other populations. Anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia and many other symptoms are common, but there is a fear among people who need counseling that their therapist may not understand their experiences or approve of their identity. Online counseling during COVID-19 has made finding professional support easier and more convenient than ever; at Caring Heart Counseling, we offer virtual therapy to everyone, including affirming LGBTQ+ care.
What LGBTQ+ Therapy Looks Like
A therapist must understand that everyone’s culture, background and individualized experiences make their mental health unique. No two people experience depression the same, and it’s especially important for us to recognize the unique factors that impact an LGBTQ+ person’s mental well-being.
There is often what is known as a “dual stigma” among people in the LGBTQ+ community. In addition to being judged for their sexuality and/or gender identity, people also face the fear of ridicule for their mental health struggles. There are numerous challenges and emotionally charged experiences that arise as a LGBTQ+ person comes out to their family and learns to own their identity; online counseling can help you build a support system and begin to find strength as you work through your own difficulties.
Caring Heart Counseling does not see your LGBTQ+ experience as something to gloss over; we want to help you work through your thoughts and emotions surrounding your sexuality, gender and identity. Whether you are questioning or unsure how to accept yourself despite identifying as LGBTQ+, we are here to listen and support you.
Affirming, Non-Judgemental Counseling
Therapy is a safe space for everyone to share their thoughts and feelings. It can be especially intimidating for an LGBTQ+ person to reach out because they worry their therapist may not accept them for who they are. This is a valid concern, but we can assure you that every therapist at Caring Heart Counseling accepts, respects and affirms your identity.
It is our job to help you not only work through your unique LGBTQ+ experiences but also cultivate a life you find meaningful. This means finding ways to align your truest self with your highest potential, embracing your strengths, overcoming weaknesses and learning how to take power back from your worst experiences.
Whether you struggle with depression, anxiety, body image or just need someone to talk to, we are here to listen. Online therapy means you can access one of our counselors whenever you need them; we can arrange a phone call or set up an appointment via email. Our flexible hours and a variety of platforms make it easy for you to schedule counseling at a time that is most convenient and comfortable for you.
If you would like to learn more, please reach out and contact us today. We are more than happy to answer any questions you have about therapy and our LGBTQ+ counseling services. Together, we can determine whether Caring Heart is right for you and match you with the counselor best suited to your personality and needs.
Divorce Counseling During COVID 19
Divorce is often one of the most emotionally challenging experiences in a person’s life; coupled with the stress of Divorce is often one of the most emotionally challenging experiences in a person’s life; coupled with the stress of the coronavirus, coping with separation and the end of a marriage can be even more difficult. To end your relationship as peacefully as possible and gain the closure you need to move forward, you may consider online divorce counseling.
Why You Need Divorce Counseling
Whether your decision to separate was mutual or one-sided, the purpose of divorce counseling is to arrive at a place of mutual respect and understanding. Both partners in the relationship deserve a chance to share their experiences and leave their marriage with a sense of closure.
You can also choose to seek divorce counseling alone. While it can be helpful to have both spouses present, your decision to seek therapy is personal and can still be meaningful by yourself.
Divorce counseling can also help you honor your marriage and the love you once shared. You will be able to work through the loss, voice unspoken pain wounds and begin to heal. It is a place to cultivate acceptance and ultimately, peace.
Handling Emotions During COVID-19
Divorce during the coronavirus can also be accompanied by feelings of guilt; compared to those who are ill or grieving the loss of a loved one, you may feel like you are selfish for being so upset by your marriage ending. Divorce is hard, and the current pandemic doesn’t make it any less real or painful. In fact, it could make it even more difficult to cope with.
The time spent alone in quarantine can also increase feelings of loneliness and isolation; you may find yourself looking up your ex on social media, wanting to reach out to them or even attempting to rekindle the relationship despite your decision to separate. When you share friends and loved ones, it can be especially difficult to find the type of support you need.
Although the coronavirus has put many things into perspective, it does not mean we have to completely ignore our problems and repress our feelings. Right now, you hurt, and that is okay. Online counseling is one way you can reach out and find the connection and support you need to cope with this experience. Therapy can help you establish a new routine, close old chapters and start planning for the next stage of your life.
Please click here to learn more about our virtual counseling services. You can request an appointment with one of our therapists on this page.
Counseling / Getting Help
Investing In Therapy Part 1
We live in a culture of exchange. As we make our way in this ever-changing world of ours, we are frequently asking ourselves, is it worth it? Is it worth my time? Is it worth my money? These precious commodities are of such high value that we use them in the creation of our template to evaluate the worth of every new endeavor. Dr. John Demartini offers great insight on this topic in his book, Inspired Destiny. A primary thesis of his book is that we consistently make choices according to our highest values. When we discover what these are, we are then equipped to operate in the world doing what we love while positively impacting others. 1 Moreover, when we are hesitant to financially invest in a process such as therapy, it is often because we are unable to see how it is related to what we value most.
I believe that committing to our own healing process is one of the most valuable decisions we will ever make. But I’d like you to decide that for yourself. This blog series is dedicated to supporting you as you consider the financial investment of therapy alongside all of the other investments in your life.
In part 1, we’ll let ourselves be honest about the initial hiccup people run into when they consider therapy as an isolated expense without considering the invaluable long-term gains. We’ll also consider the cost in light of other products and services we spend money on. Finally, we’ll end by looking at therapy as an investment in the future. In part 2 of this blog series, we’ll take a closer look at some of the long-term gains that make the therapy process a smart investment.
A typical consultation call starts like this:
Me: “Hi, this is Lindsay Quella Kara. I just wanted to return your call. Is this a good time to talk for a few minutes?”
Client: “Yes, actually. I just got home and am putting dinner on the stove.”
Me: “Awesome. Thanks for taking some time. In the next 15 minutes or so, I’d like to hear a little bit more about what’s going on in life right now that’s motivating you to seek counseling. I’d also like to share with you a little bit about my practice and what you can expect.”
The call continues (10 minutes later)…
Me: “It sounds like we may be a good fit for each other. I do have experience helping clients in this area and would be open to talking about this more with you during our intake session.”
Client: “Sounds great. Yes, I’m eager to get started because I’ve heard therapy can be helpful and I think it’s time.”
The call moves to logistics…
Me: “There are a couple of other pieces I’d like to discuss before we get started. My sessions are typically about 50-55 minutes in length. My rate is $150 per session, and I am available Sunday-Thursday. How does that sound to you?”
When I speak with a new individual for the first time, often there is an incredible resonance. They are looking for help navigating life stressors. They are typically more resourced than they give themselves credit for. And they have often encountered more challenges than others will acknowledge. Whether they are navigating life stressors, healing traumas, strengthening relationships, or looking for assistance to help their children, I trust that they have reached out for a reason. I also trust that if we both agree about the terms of our work together, we may see some pretty neat things happen. As we begin to genuinely connect, I map out what they can expect in my practice as this creates a sense of grounding for us both. I try to explore how therapy may help them get to where they want to go.
Prospective clients are usually on board until it comes to finances. The therapy process is an investment of time and money that not everyone wants to commit to. After all, we live in a culture that prioritizes what is fast and easy. Personal transformation is just not typically that way. As I interact with individuals and families craving change in their lives, I frequently hear a sentiment related to the cost being too high. There is an implication that the cost may exceed the value and there is a great deal of uncertainty about whether to dive in. This is understandable and something we all have to be mindful of as we weave together the many facets of our lives.
I’ll save a deeper discussion of the inherent value of therapy for part 2. But just for a moment, I invite you to consider how much the counseling process costs in light of other expenses in daily life.
An adult individual may spend…
$5 on coffee
$10 going to the movies
$25 on gas for their car
$40 on a haircut
$75 on a dinner for two
$88 on a monthly yoga membership
$200 on new clothes
$450 on Christmas gifts
$1,500 on one month of rent in Denver
$2,200 on a week vacation
$3,000 on an unexpected medical expense
$18,000 for a small car
$35,000 for a down payment on a small home
$110,000 to complete a college degree
(This is just a snapshot of some of the expenses a person may have. If you’re thinking of a whole family, you may as well multiple a few of these ongoing expenses by four or five.)
If someone attends weekly therapy for six months, they will spend $3,900.
A year of therapy- a year of healing, integrating, learning, growing….costs less than most of the items we readily purchase. Furthermore, while cars break down, jobs change, living spaces evolve… the work that someone does in therapy stays with them forever. It is their journey, their healing process. The skills that are learned can be applied to every life situation, in every context. The investment is temporary and the returns are far reaching.
For example, consider a five-year-old who participates in play therapy for six months. In that short amount of time, he will have opportunities to learn skills that will help him navigate challenges at school, home, and community settings. He will have opportunities to repattern his nervous system, to discover how to solve tangible problems, and learn how to communicate his needs. This will create a foundation he will use on an ongoing basis.
Consider also a couple who have experienced significant transitions and loss. In the context of therapy, they will work on integrating the loss, allowing the grief process to move through their bodies, and make meaning of their experience together. There will be opportunities for reconnection, repair, differentiation and learning. Investing in this process has the potential to influence how they turn to one another for the rest of their life.
Finally, consider a young adult who is trying to figure out where she wants to go in life. As she engages the therapy process, she will actually be engaging herself, interacting with her story, and solidifying her identity. She will have the opportunity to understand her life narrative in a clear and cohesive way. She will be guided through a process, creating self-awareness that can never be taken away.
If you are considering starting therapy, I invite you to look at the investment of therapy in the context of all of the other ways you spend your time and money. Consider not only the tangible costs, but also the intangible gains. Consider how the therapy process and the investment required may align with your highest values. Perhaps after reflecting, you’ll decide to move forward with therapy. I hope you do. It is possible (even probable) that your therapy process may become an experience worth every penny.
Lindsay Quella Kara Lam, MA, NCC, LPC
Lindsay is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Nationally Certified Counselor, and student in the 2019 Synergetic Play Therapy Certification Program. Lindsay is proud to offer her gifts as a contracted therapist at Caring Heart. Lindsay is co-owner of Voice Hands Heart- a holistic business offering integrative wellness to the communities in Denver and Boulder.
- Demartini, John. Inspired Destiny: Living a Fulfilling and Purposeful Life. (CA: Hay House Inc., 2010).
Counseling / Getting Help
I Think My Friend Needs Help. How Do I Get Him Or Her To See A Counselor?
For whatever reason, even in this day and age, there is for many people a stigma around therapy. It seems a bit strange to us therapists, because we think therapy is great! Regardless, many feel that going to therapy must be a sign of weakness, failure, being completely lost, innately flawed, or just plain crazy. And, of course, this is simply not the case.
Going to therapy for strength, healing, clarity, discovery, personal development, and growth is one of the most courageous and wise things any of us can do. So, very simply, take that stance with your friend. Share with them your positive view of counseling and your appreciation of their courage. If you have ever been to see a counselor, tell them about your experience in therapy. And help resource them by sharing potential referrals. More than anything, we want to know that we are not alone.
So, if you have ever struggled in similar ways as your friend, be vulnerable and tell them about it. If your relationship has a degree of authenticity and vulnerability, offer to be a supportive friend by making yourself available for processing outside of counseling. And keep in mind that people will not go to therapy if they are really not ready. And pushing too hard or trying to force them to go to therapy does not usually work very well. Even if they end up going to counseling, the work will not be very effective if they are not ready to engage in the therapy process.
Lastly, keep in mind that people are responsible for their own lives and must ultimately take full responsibility for the changes they want and need to make. Treating someone who is struggling like they are helpless is not usually helpful. People are generally stronger and more resilient than we think. Reflect the strengths you see in your friend and compassionately encourage them. Then, just follow this up with support.
Counseling / Getting Help
What Happens During My First Appointment?
The first appointment is kind of a get-to-know-you session. Depending on the therapist’s style, this may be more or less formal. For many counselors, the first session is an attempt to get the “360 Degrees” on you, your life, and your relationships. We want to know the ins and outs, the backgrounds, the patterns, the struggles, and the hopes.
If you are an individual, we want to know what your life currently looks like, what it has looked like in the past, and how you want it to look. Most people have to learn to ask really basic questions again. What did I dream for myself and my life?
If you are a couple, we want to understand your current relationship and how you got to where you are now. We want to understand your relationship history, especially with your original family when you were a child growing up. The reason we want to know this is because we almost always repeat, in some way, aspects of our original family; roles, patterns, and expectations. And we want to understand what you are wanting to create in your relationship now. All relationships are co-created, so we need to ask the very important question, “What do I want to create and how am I getting in the way of what I am wanting?”
If you are a family, we want to know how you have functioned in the past, how you are currently functioning, and how you would prefer to function as a family. Just talking plainly and openly about these simple questions in a therapeutic setting can be very powerful. What is everyone wanting? Usually, individuals within a family are wanting very similar things (understanding, connection, freedom – to be seen and heard). We just don’t know we are wanting the same things!
If we are working with your child, most play therapists, child-centered therapists, and adolescent therapists will want to get to know both you and your child over time. Our therapists are great at working with your child directly, but also letting you in on the process; offering parent support and coaching. Parenting is the hardest thing ever. And wonderful too. What a strange mix! In the first session, the counselor is going to meet with whoever makes most sense to them for beginning the complex work of strategically conceptualizing both the individuals and the family as a complete unit with its own patterns and dynamics. This is not speedy work. Be patient. It takes time. Children work at their own speed and have a unique way of working through their stuff. It can be frustrating for adults. But all of our child/adolescent therapists know what they are doing and know what they are looking for and how to help you create the family structure, function, and relationships you want.
In any case, we want you to feel, in the very first session, that we get you, we understand where you are wanting to go, and we have some good ideas of how to get you there!