Things to Know About Telehealth Therapy

If you’re feeling anxious and hypervigilant, numb and depressed, or just plain stressed these days, you may be considering virtual therapy, or what is formally known as telehealth counseling services. Although talking to someone other than your partner, kids, or your dog may seem like a breath of fresh air after three weeks of the stay-at-home order due to COVID-19, you may still be skeptical about beginning virtual therapy sessions and wondering how it all works. My hope is to ease your worries and provide some information that will help you get the help and support you’re needing right now. 

In many ways, beginning virtual counseling is similar to beginning in-person counseling sessions. You’ll still need to fill out the necessary intake paperwork prior to your appointment. Then, you will spend time in your first session discussing the concern that brought you to counseling, establishing treatment goals, getting to know your therapist, and them getting to know you. Subsequent sessions will be spent working towards achieving your treatment goals in order to help you move towards healing. Overall, anything that can be done in an in-person session can be done during a virtual counseling session; even EMDR. 

While it may seem daunting to talk to a therapist you just met in person, it may seem even more strange to build a relationship with a therapist who isn’t in the same room with you. Keep in mind, the same rules apply if you’re “therapist shopping” for an in-person therapist or for a virtual counselor. In order to pick the right therapist for you, you’ll want to find a therapist who feels genuine, is easy to talk to, is knowledgeable about treating the specific issue you’re bringing to therapy, and who feels like they would be a good fit. (See this blog post for more information on choosing the right therapist.)  Although face to face counseling can be invaluable, building a trusting relationship with your counselor is still one of the most important predictors of your success in therapy, regardless if the counseling takes place in-person or online. (Check out this blog post too!) 

In addition to the convenience of being able to meet with your counselor from almost anywhere, another advantage to participating in telehealth therapy is that no one will see you walking into a counseling center. You don’t have to worry about seeing someone you know in the parking lot or in the waiting room prior to your appointment. Some people may wonder though, “Are virtual counseling sessions really secure and private?” At Inner Harmony Counseling, I use a HIPAA compliant video platform called Telehealth by SimplePractice so you can rest assured that your privacy is protected. Telehealth by SimplePractice is easily accessible from a laptop, PC, tablet, iPad, or smartphone. A quiet, private, well-lit room is best and I typically recommend that my clients use a pair of headphones or earbuds for an additional layer of privacy. 

If you’re interested in beginning virtual therapy sessions, feel free to call me at 440-630-0126 or email me at [email protected]

At this time in our history when emotions are running high, stress is abound, and new adjustments and learning curves seem to be around every corner, I hope you find the strength and courage to reach out in order to find the support that you need from the comfort of your home.

May you and your family stay healthy and well! 

FAQ’s About EMDR

As a certified EMDR therapist, I am often asked to explain what EMDR is, how it works, etc., so here are some helpful FAQ’s about EMDR:

What is it?

EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy. (Don’t worry, it took me a good couple of weeks to remember what all the letters meant and to get the order of the acronym right!) EMDR a relatively new treatment, first developed by Francine Shapiro in the late 1980’s-early 1990’s, that has gained much recognition for its ability to heal trauma.

So how does it work?

EMDR relies on the brain’s natural ability to heal from traumatic events and memories. EMDR uses what’s called the Adaptive Information Processing (AIP) model which provides a framework for and a hypothesis of how we believe trauma affects the brain. When we are exposed to a fearful stimulus, information about that stimulus is sent to our amygdala which in turn sends out a signal for the fight, flight, or freeze response. When the distress from that traumatic event remains, the thoughts, images, emotions, and body sensations that surface can become overwhelming and cause us to feel as if we are back in that moment or that we are “frozen” in that moment. EMDR helps the brain to process these memories and bring down the intensity of the emotions, the negativity of the thoughts, and soothe the sensations felt in the body when we think of that thing that happened to us thereby resolving the original fight, flight, freeze response.

What’s with the eye movement thing?

The “eye movement thing” is called Bilateral Stimulation (BLS). Francine Shapiro found that when she moved her eyes from side to side, she was better able to process and reprocess distressing thoughts and emotions. BLS is similar to the eye movement that occurs during REM sleep and it allows us to access the distressing memory and reprocess it on an emotional level until resolve and healing are achieved.

What does the treatment of EMDR look like?

There are eight phases in EMDR. Phase one involves history taking where the clinician completes an intake to gather specific information (i.e. current symptoms, triggers, past adverse life events, etc.) needed for treatment. This phase can usually be completed within one counseling session. During phase two, you and your clinician will discuss your EMDR treatment plan and decide what specific event or memory you will target first in your EMDR work. Then, the remainder of phase two is devoted to building coping skills and resources. Because you are preparing to do some potentially difficult and emotional work, we want to be sure that you have the skills needed to manage the emotional work and stay within the window of tolerance. The window of tolerance is that sweet spot where we can experience an elevated level of emotion and still work through it without becoming hyperaroused (i.e. feeling completely overwhelmed, abreacting, experiencing an increase in self-harm, suicidal thoughts, addiction, etc.) or without becoming hypoaroused (i.e. feeling numb, shutting down, dissociating). So, the resources and skills learned in phase two can help you cope with the things that come up during your EMDR sessions as well as anything that may surface related to your work outside of the session. During phases three through seven, you will target the specific event or memory and use BLS to begin to reprocess it. You will most likely spend the majority of your EMDR sessions within these phases until that original fight, flight, freeze response is resolved and the memory feels as close to neutral as possible. At the beginning of subsequent sessions, your clinician will begin with phase eight to check in and see what thoughts, emotions, insights, new memories, etc. have come up since your last session. Then, you will return to phases three through seven to continue reprocessing. Once the memory is neutral or as low as it can go, the clinician will move with you into some future oriented work. I consider this part of EMDR to be the “cherry on top”. We could just let you go on your merry way from here but instead, we take a look back at the information gathered during phase one and check to see where the distress of the original triggers you mentioned sit now. If any level of distress still exists when you think about encountering those triggers in life from here on out, then you’ll do some more BLS until you feel you’ve got the skills and insights needed to manage those situations successfully.

How long does the treatment take?

Each person heals in their own time so this is a difficult question to answer. I’ve worked with some individuals in EMDR who have experienced relief and healing after two months and there are others with whom I’ve worked for two years. The more complex the trauma, the more time it may take to reach a point of healing.

Am I a good candidate for EMDR?

Sometimes I hear clients tell me “Well, I wasn’t abused or anything so I don’t really have any trauma’”. EMDR is an evidenced based practice that is effective in treating both big “T” trauma related issues as well as little “t” trauma. The fact of the matter is we all have trauma. Any distressing experience – a bad breakup, the death of a loved one, a medical issue, your parent’s divorce, that mean girl in middle school who teased you relentlessly and made your life a living hell – that happened to you and continues to affect your life in a negative way or hold you back from being your best self is worth taking the time to work though and heal. So, yes, chances are you are a good candidate for EMDR.


Guilt, ugh…It’s uncomfortable, it’s heavy, and if you don’t do something about it, it can fester and hang around indefinitely. So, what can you do about it? 

First, separate the things you feel guilty about into two categories: true guilt vs false guilt. I encourage my clients to write or type these things out if that’s helpful. True guilt are those things that we’ve done, or decisions that we’ve made, that rub against our morals and values. False guilt are those things that we convince ourselves are our fault, so we let them spin around in our head like a never-ending hamster wheel. 

Now that you’ve got your lists, let’s address the stuff on the true guilt list first. Looking at your true guilt list, think of ways you could possibly rectify the wrong doing in order to help yourself find closure. Often times this means asking someone else (or sometimes asking ourselves) for forgiveness. This asking of forgiveness could be done in a covert or overt way. Covert forgiveness may look like writing an apology letter to someone without sending it or maybe ripping it up or destroying it in a meaningful way instead. The point is, you’ve given a voice to those feelings of guilt and oftentimes this act can bring closure. Overt forgiveness may look like actually sending that letter or speaking with the person directly in order to apologize and ask for their forgiveness. This is also the time where, if my client is spiritual and/or religious, we discuss how it may be helpful to chat with their spiritual advisor(s) about guilt and forgiveness.

Next, it’s time to take care of that false guilt. It can be difficult sometimes to tell if something is true or false guilt because false guilt can feel so true to us! Here’s what you need to know, false guilt typically comes with a lot of “shoulds”. As psychologists Clayton Barbeau and Albert Ellis suggest, we need to stop “shoulding” and “musterbating” ourselves because, in reality, there are only a handful of things we “should” or “must” do. Such as “I should wear my seat belt” or “I should eat a balanced diet to stay healthy.” When you hear yourself using the word “should”  while discussing guilt, notice it, and say the sentence again changing “should” to “I wish” or “It would have been better”. So the guilt-ridden thought “I shouldn’t have stayed in that relationship for so long! I should have known he/she/they was/were going to hurt me!” is better said “I wish I wouldn’t have stayed in that relationship for as long as I did. It would have been better had I noticed his/her/their hurtful tendencies and had the assertiveness skills and confidence to stand up for myself.” Notice how the latter feels lighter and doesn’t weigh us down as much as shoulding ourselves. This is because it reminds us of why the thing happened in the first place. I didn’t do anything “wrong” per say, but rather it was my subconscious denial that didn’t want me to see his hurtful tendencies as well as my lack of assertiveness and confidence that caused me to stay in a difficult relationship. Therein lies the next step of managing false guilt; remind yourself that this is false guilt and not true guilt because there was truly no wrong-doing done. 

Lastly, offer yourself some compassion for having gone through that difficult situation. We’re all human, we all deserve some grace and the opportunity to learn how to let go of guilt.

School Refusal: Just a Phase? Or is it Anxiety?

It was an honor to be a guest blogger once again for my friends at Achievement Advantage Assessment & Services, LLC in Lyndhurst, OH.  Be sure to check them out if your child is in need of psychoeducational assessments, educational interventions, consultation or advocacy services. Thanks again for this opportunity, Jen and Greer!

Does this sound like a typical school-day morning with your teen?

  • Getting your teen out of bed and to school on time is a chore.
  • There’s so much arguing on school-day mornings that you often give up or feel like giving up.
  • You’ve lost track of how many days of school they’ve missed or how many times you’ve called them in late.
  • Your teens distress and refusal to go to school has caused you to be late for work most days.

As a counselor who works with older teens 16 years and up, I’ve seen the difficult effects school refusal can have on the teen and their parents.

Sometimes school refusal is in an attempt by the teen to avoid something unpleasant. Maybe a test they didn’t study for or a class they’d prefer to miss. Sometimes school refusal is a temporary issue such as when school starts back up after summer or winter break. It’s common for worries to flare up then but once the teen gets back into a routine, the worry usually decreases.

Sometimes school refusal isn’t just full school days missed but multiple days tardy, leaving school early, or numerous trips to the nurse. It’s important to note that anxiety in kids and teens typically manifests in somatic symptoms, such as a stomachache or a headache. It’s important to make an appointment with your teens pediatrician to be sure there isn’t an underlying medical issue that needs attention.

When tardiness, leaving class, or school refusal become an ongoing issue, this may point to the presence of a diagnosable disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder.

Let me start by saying that this article is not intended to help you diagnose your teen. In our “WebMD world” today, it’s important to remember that diagnosing should be left to a licensed professional who administers a diagnostic assessment in person. The purpose of this article is simply to help you gain a basic understanding what generalized anxiety may look like.

So what does generalized anxiety disorder look like in teens?

Teens who are struggling with anxiety may have difficulty concentrating, experience muscle tension, may often feel irritable or on edge, fatigued, or may have difficulty falling or staying asleep. When I talk to teens who have missed multiple days of school, they often share that they feel completely overwhelmed by the piles of work that need to be made up. And the fact that they may already be flunking the class doesn’t help to motivate them; it simply creates an even more pronounced feeling of helplessness. You or I may think “Well, what’s the problem? Just take it one assignment at a time!”, but anxiety doesn’t work that way. Anxiety only allows the teen to see the enormous, daunting pile of work in front of them in its entirety and not the smaller, more manageable parts.

Your teen needs coping skills and strategies to manage the feeling of being overwhelmed, help with that feeling of helplessness, and support for all the ways anxiety affects other aspects of their life. Do them (and yourself!) a favor and talk to them about their willingness to work with a therapist. Email or text them the link to Tell them to type their zip code in the “Find a Therapist” search option, scroll through the pictures and bios of the clinicians in their area until they find someone who works with teens with anxiety and who seems like they’d be a good fit. And if your teen doesn’t jive with the first counselor they meet, don’t make them go back. Help them find a counselor that they feel comfortable with and who seems genuine and trusting so they can start moving towards a life where school isn’t plagued with anxiety and you can begin to feel hopeful for smooth and steady school-day mornings with your teen.

Talking to Kids about Death and Grief

In my last post, I focused on Grief 101 and the basics of grief and loss. Today I’m going to continue this topic and share some information and tips on the difficult task of talking to kids about death and grief. Once again, I want to reiterate that although I’ll be focusing on grief as it relates to the death of a loved one, it’s important to note that this information may also apply to children who experience other kinds of difficult loss such as divorce or the loss of their health.  

  1. A child’s understanding of death develops over time at different stages of life. New developments and understandings about death occur between 0-3 years of age, 3-5 years, 6-8 years, 9-12 years, and 13-17 years of age. So, if a child experienced a meaningful loss early in their lives, be ready to talk with them about the loss and what it means to them now at each new developmental stage.
  2. Reiterate the importance of open communication and assure the child that they are welcome to ask you questions about the loss or about death anytime. Let them know that if you don’t know the answer, you’ll do what you need to do to help them find the answer.
  3. Be as honest as you can about what happened to the child’s loved one at an age appropriate level. Lying to a child can create resentment and anxiety later in life when the child finds out the details of their loved ones death. I’m certainly not suggesting you tell the child every detail about the loss, (we’ll get to this in a minute) but rather, there is a way to explain death due to accident, illness, suicide, or murder at an age appropriate level. If you’re not sure what that explanation sounds like, please feel free to give me a call and I’d be happy to talk you through this very difficult task. And of course, use your judgement. You know your child best. If there’s something about the loss that is inappropriate to share with them – for example that their uncle died by suicide – then I’d encourage you say something along the lines of “There are some things about Uncle Joe’s death that we will talk more about when you are older because they’re not appropriate right now and will be best talked about later”.

And since I brought up the topic of suicide, here is a little PSA: please refrain from saying someone “committed suicide”. The word “committed” has a negative connotation, like when we say someone committed a crime. Instead, say the person “died by suicide” or that they “took their own life.” 

  1. Keep in mind that kids are different from adults in the way that they grieve. We adults often think of our loss most hours of the day whereas kids can flow in and out of grief quickly. This is why a child may ask very deep, thoughtful questions about death and then after you answer their question, quickly run off and start playing with their friends like nothing happened. Again, keep the lines of communication open at all times.  
  2. If you have young children, do not say their loved one is “sleeping”. Because children under 10 are concrete thinkers, this could create fear and worry about dying if they go to sleep. 
  3. Plan a memorialization activity. It’s important for kids (and adults) to commemorate the life that was lived. Doing a memorialization craft or activity is a meaningful way to help kids process and remember their loved one. You can find a ton of memorialization ideas on Pinterest or by searching google, but here are a few ideas: create a memory box, plant a tree, create a garden stepping stone, painting or creating meaningful pottery. Check out my blog post “Surviving Grief During the Holidays” from November, 2018 for some specific holiday ideas as well. 
  4. Lastly, have compassion for yourself. If you are helping a child through grief then chances are you are also grieving. This can complicate your grief in two ways: 1. Your grief can be easily triggered by the ebb and flow of your child’s questions about death and grief. 2. If the child you are helping happens to be your own child, then you are probably experiencing double the grief – we as parents grieve for our children’s loss on top of grieving our own loss. Be kind to yourself, patient with the child, and ask a partner or support person to “tap in” to answer the child’s question if need be so that you can “tap out” if you need a moment to yourself to manage your own grief.

Grief 101

The unfortunate truth is that we all experience death, grief, and loss sometime during our lives. I had the privilege of working as a grief counselor early in my career and even now, I find myself sharing the basics of grief and loss so often with my clients. Because of this, I thought it might be helpful to create my own little “Grief 101” class. 

Before I begin, I want to emphasize that although I’ll be focusing on grief as it relates to the death of a loved one, it’s important to note that this information also applies to – and the same grief work is sometimes needed for – any kind of difficult loss such as divorce, losing a job, loss of health, etc. 

Let’s start with the tasks of grieving. When we experience a loss, the hope is that we can move through these tasks of grieving in order to find healing.

  1. Recognizing the reality of the loss: this means processing and understanding the loss; what happened, how it happened, when it happened, how this loss affected me, my thoughts and emotions about the loss, etc. It’s so important to have supportive people in our lives with whom we can express our thoughts and feelings in order to process the loss. If you don’t have these supports in your life, or the support you have doesn’t feel adequate, seek out a therapist who can help. 
  2. Adjust to a new environment/new normal: Someone you loved has died and chances are, there’s a certain amount of energy you put into that relationship. Now that they’re gone, what do you do with that energy? For example, if I was a caretaker for my ailing mother and I spent many hours during the day driving to medical appointments, cleaning, cooking, and caring for her, what will I do now that those tasks aren’t a part of my day? This is when I talk to my clients about the importance of using self care and also taking time to connect with their loved one in a way that feels meaningful.
  3. Reinvest in the new normal: Now that you’ve thought through what you’re going to do with that time and energy (i.e. I’m going to pray, go to the cemetery to visit my mother’s grave, attend a support group, find a therapist, start a new job, finally take that painting class I’ve always wanted to take) this is when you start taking up the tasks of daily living within your new normal and begin to reinvest in life. 

It’s unbelievably difficult to move through life without our loved one and everyone moves through these tasks in their own time. Unfortunately, our society in general likes to say “It’s been X number of months, shouldn’t you be over this by now?” To that I say, hell no! Grief is never something you get “over”. A certain level of sadness will always remain and that’s okay because you’ve lost someone that you love. Our sadness is one way we honor our love for that person. We all want to believe that grief looks like a smooth downward sloping line on a graph that just gets easier over time. The truth is, it looks more like jagged series of peaks and valleys because over time, there are sudden and temporary upsurges of grief along the way that remind us of our loved one – like when a birthday or anniversary comes. If you do the grief work and allow yourself the space and self-compassion to work through these triggers and tasks in your own time, you’ll see a very gradual decrease over time in the intensity of your grief. 

It’s also important to give yourself permission to feel however you need to feel in the moment. Whether it’s sadness, anger, confusion, worry, frustration, or peace; notice it, acknowledge it, allow yourself to feel it and process it. Too often I talk to people who push away or stuff their grief emotions because “It wasn’t the right time” or “It’s been two years, I shouldn’t be feeling this sad anymore”. If you don’t handle your grief, it will handle you. Grief is one of those things that if ignored, it will wreak havoc on your physical and mental health as well as other areas of your life. So let’s say you’re standing in the middle of the grocery store and something triggers your grief. You want to start crying but aren’t sure what to do. I’d encourage you to leave your shopping cart, go to your car or to the restroom and allow yourself to emote and feel whatever it is in that moment. Right now I’m sure you’re thinking “Okay Katie, so what if I’m in the middle of a meeting at work. Sometimes I can’t just up and leave to go cry?!” I hear you. Grief can come up at the most inconvenient times. And my answer to that question is, there are ways you can manage those difficult emotions in the moment and still be moving through them as opposed to stuffing them. Give me a call or call a counselor who specializes in grief and loss; they can give you the tools to help you do this.

The most important thing to remember is: 

time + grief work = healing

Time will ultimately take care of itself and if you do the tough grief work, (A.K.A. all of these things I mentioned above) you’ll find yourself moving towards peace and healing.

How to Talk about the Tough Stuff

Had an argument or a disagreement with a friend, a family member, your partner or a coworker? Not sure how to talk about an uncomfortable situation or express your thoughts and feelings and find a resolution to the problem? Check out this video for some tips on how to talk about the tough stuff.

The Drama Triangle

We’ve all been in it. Find out what it is and how to avoid it.  

Here is the link to the TherapistUncensored podcast I mention in the video: 

Got Anxiety?

I originally wrote this post as a guest blogger for my friends at Achievement Advantage Assessment & Services, LLC in Lyndhurst, OH.  Thanks again for the opportunity, Jen and Greer!


You can often hear me ask my clients “Where do you feel [that emotion] in your body?” And very often when the emotion they’re feeling is anxiety, my clients say they feel it in their head like “a dark cloud” or “a tornado” or like “static on a television set”. If you have ever struggled with anxiety, than you know that anxiety clouds your thoughts, perceptions and beliefs about yourself, others, and your experiences within the world. I have heard countless stories from my clients who are students and/or professionals about how these unhelpful ways of thinking have gotten in the way of their school work, preparing for a test or presentation, trying something new, or going out with friends on the weekend. As we embark on the beginning of a new semester – a time when anxiety can run high – I want to share with you a tool that I find myself teaching almost every one of my clients at some point in our work together.

Below is a link to a list of Unhelpful Thinking Styles. These are unhelpful ways of thinking that we all use from time to time and you may find that there are a select few that you use more often. Here are the steps to using this as a coping skill to develop more helpful ways of thinking:

Read – Read through the left column and take note of which unhelpful thinking styles you have used in the past/noticed yourself using presently. Become familiar with the ones you use most often.

Notice – Over the next week, just notice when you use an unhelpful thinking style. You will most likely notice you’ve used it after the fact; this is completely normal and is a step in the right direction!

Name it – Once you’ve noticed it, name the unhelpful thinking style. Just naming it and calling it what it is helps to diminish its power in the moment. For example, “I’m totally going to bomb this test! …oh wait, that was me jumping to conclusions. I always do that before a big test, don’t I?!?

Work to change it – Now it’s time to familiarize yourself with the right column of the page. These alternative responses are the ideal/more positive ways of thinking.

Over time and with continued work to improve your self-awareness, you’ll become better at noticing when you use these unhelpful thinking styles. Then you can work to change them by substituting the unhelpful thought with the alternative responses. Or, better yet, you’ll be able to anticipate the unhelpful thought, stop it before it happens, and the alternative responses will become your default way of thinking.

Wood, J.C. (2010). The cognitive behavioral therapy workbook for personality disorders: A step-by-step program. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.

Mastering these steps will take practice. Don’t forget to have compassion for yourself and to be patient. Think about it this way, you’ve likely spent years perfecting these unhelpful styles as your default, so naturally it would take time to change your default way of thinking. Practice makes permanent.

Choosing the Right Therapist for You

Happy New Year! Many people use this time of year to make resolutions or start something new. If finding a therapist is on your list, take a look at these tips on what to look for in a therapist.

Look for a therapist who…

  • Is easy to talk to and feels genuine. As mentioned in my previous blog post, a strong client/counselor relationship is a key element in predicting positive change and success in therapy. In my experience, it seems most people prefer a therapist who is empathetic, accepting, and compassionate who can also offer an honest third party perspective that is often needed at times in order to achieve personal growth and a better understanding of self. Someone who is genuine and easy to talk to will make opening up about the tough stuff a little easier.
  • Sets appropriate professional boundaries. I’ve heard far too many stories from my clients about previous therapists who talked about themselves and their own issues in session more than the client’s. Yikes! All of us in our personal friendships attempt to “take our turn in the spotlight”, so to speak, so that each friend has a chance to share their current struggles and hear their friend’s thoughts or opinions. The benefit of the counseling relationship is that there’s no need to share the spotlight! Your therapy session is your time to truly focus on you and your struggles and not someone else’s. Of course, a little self disclosure from your therapist isn’t necessarily a bad thing and can, at times, help strengthen the therapeutic relationship. For example, most of my clients know that I’m married with two young kids, and I might share some other trivial aspect of my life, like “I’m exhausted from being up too late on New Years Eve,” but then I turn my focus back to my client and their life. We licensed counselors are encouraged to first think “How does sharing this with my client aide in the strengthening of our professional relationship and/or help them in their healing?” I hope your therapist asks themselves this question as well.
  • Aspires to understand and work towards your goals in counseling. Before you come to your first appointment, take some time to really think about what you want to get out of therapy, i.e. “I want to be more assertive and express my thoughts and feelings” or “I want to feel less anxious at work”. This way, your therapist can ask some follow up questions to get a better understanding of your goals in order to hit the ground running. It’s good practice to discuss and review treatment goals during the counseling process (and at the end of treatment as well) to be sure that you are still on the right track or to assess if some goals and objectives need to be modified or changed.
  • Gives you tools that you can use in “real life” to work towards your goals. I’ve also heard from some of my clients that it felt like all they did in therapy was talk about the problem instead of moving towards trying to fix or change it. Processing your thoughts and emotions about certain stressors or issues is certainly important and a large part of why counseling can be helpful, but most people also come to counseling to get help and make changes. A therapist should do their best to suggest coping skills and help you learn to use tools in life that will help you grow, change, and heal.
  • Is willing to search for the tools that would best suit you, consult with another professional, and/or refer out if need be. Phew, that was a mouthful. Let’s break that down. So, sometimes we therapists feel stuck and aren’t quite sure what skills or tools would help you in your particular situation. Or perhaps we notice that whatever we’re doing doesn’t seem to be working that well. It’s important that your therapist be willing to do some research or seek consultation from another counselor on how best to help you. It’s also imperative that we therapists know when we’re not best suited to help a client because the issue is out of our scope of practice. For instance, I do not possess enough training and experience to feel competent in helping someone who is currently struggling with addiction. This is why I have a referral list of professionals near me who specialize in this area. Ask a potential therapist what their specialties are and what experience they have in helping others with your presenting issue.

If you’re interested in finding the right therapist for you, ask your friends and family for a referral. You can also search for clinicians in your area on and read their biographies, or you can look a clinician up on to view their rating. If the therapist offers a free phone consultation, take advantage of it so you can start to get a feel for if this therapist is a good fit for you. Then, if you do end up scheduling a counseling session with them, go to your first session to be sure that they still feel like a good fit. If it doesn’t feel like the right fit after your first session or even your sixth session, then seek out another therapist. I tell my clients that the most important thing is that they get the help and support they need and not that I am the one providing the help and support. I’ve heard too often from my clients and others who say that they stayed with a counselor because “I felt bad leaving”. Therapy is an important investment and you deserve to find a therapist who meets your needs.

Above all, trust your gut, listen to it, and I guarantee that you’ll find the right therapist for you.