Finding a family counselor that suits your family can seem pretty daunting to begin with. There is a lot to think about to make sure that you have the best chance of success in healing.
Some people might hesitate to reach out to a family therapist because they don’t know how to find the right therapist for them. Others may have bad experiences with past therapists and are afraid they will encounter someone who isn’t helpful.
By the time you are done reading this article, you will be better prepared to start looking for a family counselor who will be right for you and your family. This article will walk you through what type of family counselor might fit your needs, choosing the right family therapist, and even how to make sure therapy is within your budget. Reading this article is your first step to healing.
When Should I Start Seeking Family Therapy?
It is never too early to seek out help. Family therapy is usually the last resort for people when they are already in crisis and years of psychological damage has been done. They have tried everything and it isn’t working.
You don’t have to wait until then to seek out help. In fact, the earlier you come to family therapy, the better you can handle what is thrown at you in your family life.
Seeing a family counselor can be helpful for preventing or decreasing the intensity of family problems. The key is to finding the right family counselor for your family so that every member of the family feels comfortable being honest and open in sessions. In this article, you will learn how to search for a family therapist through examining your family’s needs.
What are You Looking for in Family Therapy?
When looking into family therapy, it is important to know why you are asking for help. Is it that you feel overwhelmed with parenting, not on the same page when it comes to communicating with your spouse, wanting therapy for your child and also want to support them through the process? Many therapists can address these problems, but some also specialize in these categories and are more able to provide the effective treatment.
Couples therapy is generally known for married couples who are already done with their marriage and making a last ditch effort to stay together. However, this is not the only time you can engage in couples therapy.
If you are in a relationship, couples counseling can be helpful no matter if you are married, engaged, or dating. Couples therapy helps to increase how well the relationship is functioning. This could mean just a few sessions on how to communicate more effectively, how to fight fairly, or how to get out of an abusive cycle.
Behavior intervention is ideal for families who have children who are having difficulties with their peers or adults in the community, school, or at home. Behavior intervention involves the children and adults in the household.
In family therapy, the child learns which behaviors are acceptable and which behaviors are not through rewards, praise, and unwanted consequences. Parents will learn how to hold boundaries and create reward systems, among other skills.
Most family therapists, when applying behavior interventions, will ask the parents to define what happens before, during and after the behavior and works with parents in changing the behaviors of the children and parents in all three areas. It is important for the parents to be involved in sessions so that they can learn skills that the therapist is implementing in session and use them at home to see an increase in positive behaviors.
Parent coaching is a little different than behavior intervention due to the fact that the focus is on the parents. The children can be present or the coaching can just be with the parents.
Coaching is about learning the skills you need to be an effective parent for your child’s emotional health, psychical health, and social health. Parents can learn how to discipline effectively, learn ways to have their children listen to them, and set up boundaries for themselves and their children.
Issues Between Parent and Child
If you are having relationship issues between you and your child, constantly fighting or issues with disrespect, family therapy is what you should be looking for. Especially when children are experiencing puberty or mental health issues, it is hard to maintain a positive relationship with your children.
Raising children is hard, and sometimes, parenting methods that worked for you or your other children are driving a wedge between you and your child. Coming to therapy will help rebuild that relationship between parent and child and offer an opportunity to learn skills to effectively communicate with one another.
Navigating Systems Involvement (CPS, Cops, Schools)
When people are in crisis, they tend to be struggling in many areas in their lives, including school, legal, and child protective services. It can be confusing and difficult to be successful in getting what you want when dealing with people in these different areas. You might even feel like you are being pushed around and tossed to the side.
If you are having difficulty navigating these systems and don’t feel heard, you might want to consider receiving therapy from a clinical social worker. Social workers are trained in how to navigate systems, as well as how to advocate for you and others. A clinical social worker will be able to provide the much needed therapeutic support for your family, as well as be able to help you advocate for yourself and your family.
What is Important in a Family Counselor?
The most important aspect of therapy is that you feel comfortable being with the therapist. Not all therapists are created equal, not everyone works well together, and this is true for therapists and clients as well. Some therapists use “tough love,” some are softer around the edges, and some can be a little of both.
Knowing what type of personality your family would work with best is just as important as finding someone who is trained in the specialization that you are looking for. A great way to get to know a therapist is by reading their website, and reading any articles they may have written. This will allow you to get a sense of their personality and their philosophy on therapy.
If you make an appointment with a family counselor, don’t be afraid to ask them questions about their practice and how they typically work with people. This will give you a great opportunity to see if you are going to be a good fit. If not, that’s okay! Just because you didn’t like the first therapist, or the second, doesn’t mean that there aren’t any therapists out there to help your family.
When looking into therapy, you can also consider what type of practice they run. They could be based in religion or work with mostly children, or adults. This is important to consider because this will change the way the therapist interacts with your family.
With a faith-based practice, they will be able to bring your faith into the room to help you heal, if that is what you are looking for. Someone who is experienced with adults might not know how to use play therapy when including children in the family sessions. If the therapist has most of their experience with children and you are looking to solve family issues with adult children, this might not be the best fit for your family.
Other Things to Consider
Besides picking a focus and therapist, you need to figure out how much money you can spend on therapy. Yes, therapy is expensive, yet it is cheap when you consider all of the costs you’re avoiding by healing before you are in crisis.
Think of therapy as preventative medicine. If you spend the money now on yourself, you will be saving a lot in the future. This being said, there are many ways that therapy can be affordable for you.
When a therapist bills insurance directly, they are considered an in-network-provider. These providers will take payment from you and bill your insurance for you.
Many therapists opt for not taking insurance directly due to the high operating costs of running a business. The money they would receive if they were paneling with insurance is only a small percent of what you pay them if they were to bill insurance. Because of this, many therapists choose to operate as “out-of-network providers.”
An out of network provider will charge you their session fee and give you a receipt for the session. You can then take that receipt to your insurance provider and get reimbursed a portion of the session fee. It is important to talk to your insurance provider prior to see what they will reimburse for and how much. This is important because you don’t want to assume that your insurance will cover the cost and then be in debt because they don’t reimburse you.
If you don’t want to pay for therapy with insurance or you don’t have insurance, then you have a couple of options. You can pay “out of pocket,” which is just paying the therapist their set rate. Depending on the therapist, rates are usually $150-$200 a session. Session fees vary widely, so it is important to ask the therapist directly what they charge for an hour session.
It is not unusual for families to pay 25% of their income on a therapist. This may seem like a high cost, but remember, this is preventative medicine and will allow your family to heal and to function effectively once more.
If you feel like you are unable to pay this much for therapy, there are some therapists that use a sliding scale. This is when a therapist is willing to charge less than their normal fee based off of the client’s income. Sliding scales also vary widely among therapists. Therapists usually set their sliding scale to match their operating costs, client income, size of their practice, and much more.
There are other ways you might be able to see a therapist if you feel like private practice is not a good fit for you. There are non-profit providers that usually take state insurance if you have that. There are also other types of clinics that might be in your area that provide inexpensive therapy, but might be therapy from an intern who is still in their Master’s program to get licensed.
Where can I find a therapist near me?
Now that you know how to find a therapist that will be the best fit for your family, you can start looking in your area for that type of family counselor you need. If you are looking to research “in-network-providers” in your area, a great place to start is by calling your insurance company. They will be able to give you a list of therapists that will bill directly to them.
If you have state insurance, look into a non-profit in the area or a clinic like Compass Health, the Everett Clinic, or Catholic Community Services.
If you are looking for Christian counseling, one of the largest Christian-based practices is Seattle Christian Counseling. They have offices all over the state of Washington. Look on their website to see if there is a therapist near you.
“Family”, Courtesy of Kamaljith K V, Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 License; “Family”, Courtesy of Laurel Harvey, Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 License; “Couple”, Courtesy of Wyatt Fisher, Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 License; “Engagement”, Courtesy of Duy Truong, Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0 License