Sitting in the office in front of the woman counselor, she was shy and withdrawn. This was her second visit. Her long locks of deep black hair cascading down her shoulders and back helped protect the inner emotions she was feeling.
“Why are you wearing a wig?” said the counselor. “You know, the only ones who should be wearing wigs are the young girls who have cancer. Could you take yours off?”
Thankfully my daughter had enough guts within her to say no and that was the last time she saw that counselor.
This woman counselor did not even take the time to really understand this teen, let alone the reason why she was wearing a wig in the first place. If she was a really good counselor, she would have never asked her to take it off or to give her guilt for wearing one in the first place.
Finding a good counselor, well, is hard to find. We did eventually find the best but I wanted to share with you what I have learned and how to get the right kind of counselor for you.
Not all are bad. Some are misguided. Many need to get more experience. But I learned one major factor in all of this.
Do your homework!
Learn as much as you can about that counselor. I have written down some valuable questions that you need to ask yourself and your future counselor. If you don’t do this, chances are that your teen will not benefit at all from that counselor or their counseling.
QUESTIONS AND THOUGHTS FOR YOU!
1. Does your insurance cover therapy or counseling?
2. If you do not have health insurance, most places have sliding scales ranging from $25-80 per visit.
3. Write out a list of questions you want to ask any future counselor.
4. Does it matter if the counselor is faith-based or not when counseling your teen?
5. Do you need a counselor/therapist, Psychologist or Psychiatrist? Please look into the definitions of what each offers.
6. Do they make available phone sessions? (This is not a necessity but can be helpful)
7. Write down ahead of an appointment what you would like to ask the counselor/therapist.
8. It is perfectly okay to give the counselor your opinion and approach since you know your child the best. Sometimes what works with you and your child can be implemented into the therapy.
9. You must provide all information to the counselor and not keep anything hidden in order for the counselor to do their job well. Too many parents did not divulge information that was very pertinent to the help of the teen. Do not be ashamed. They are there to help, not point fingers.
10. Ask around and get referrals. Churches and family and friends are options to seeking guidance.
QUESTIONS TO ASK THE COUNSELOR!
1. How long have you been a therapist/counselor/psychologist/psychiatrist and what degrees have they earned?
2. What is your approach to your therapy to this particular issue?
3. Do you write prescriptions for medications if needed?
4. Do you suggest alternatives to prescriptions? (such as vitamins, nutritionist, physical therapy, etc…)
5. Do you allow parents to be in the session if necessary? (some teens feel uncomfortable in the beginning sessions and would like someone they know to be there with them)
6. Ask if you can talk to other parents who have had success with this counselor and if there is a support group among the parents.
7. Do they provide resources to help parents who have teens in crisis or hurt and struggling?
8. Ask them if an issue arises and you need to speak with them privately, can you have that opportunity without that child present and how do they go about that?
9. What forms of coping skills do they offer their patients?
10. If they feel that their counseling is not effective enough to help your teen, what other services or resources would they refer you to?