3 Things to Know to Make Calling a Counselor Easier

3 Things to Know to Make Calling a Counselor Easier

It can be difficult to call a counselor for the first time, but counselors do all they can to make the process as comfortable as possible

Recognizing an addiction and the need for help is an important first step on the road to recovery. The recognition often leads to questions and uncertainties, however. It can be difficult to decide who to contact for help and intimidating to think about doing so.

In a publication on principles of effective addiction treatment, the National Institute on Drug Abuse stresses that no one treatment approach is right for every patient, and that it is important to match treatment settings and services to each person’s individual problems and needs. Sometimes a residential rehab program is the best match. Sometimes people with less intense or long-standing substance abuse issues begin their recovery journey by calling an independent counselor or therapist. When taking this path, there are things to keep in mind to make the process easier including the following:

  1. It is likely that an initial phone call will be answered by an answering machine or receptionist. There is no need to disclose any more of your situation to the receptionist or answering machine than you feel comfortable doing. It is generally sufficient to simply say that you would like to make an appointment or that you would like to ask some questions. If the initial call is answered by a machine, the counselor or a receptionist will generally return your call within a short period of time.The questions you may want to ask may be either philosophical or logistical. Perhaps you want to know about the counselor’s specialties or treatment philosophy. It is also logical to ask about fees and cancellation policies. Sometimes a counselor will offer an initial consultation for free or for a reduced rate, and if this is not mentioned by a receptionist, you may want to ask about the possibility.

    If you decide to make an appointment, you will be asked general questions about yourself such as your name and phone number. Sometimes you will be asked if you were referred to the office by someone else or if not, how you learned of the practice. You may be asked your health insurance information, if applicable.

  2. Most counselors are very empathetic and will understand any initial anxiety about calling them. A 2011 article in the Journal of Counseling and Development notes that empathy is integral to treatment and that counselors may utilize subjective, interpersonal and objective empathy when dealing with patients. Counselors and their office staff generally understand how difficult it can be to make that first call and will do their best to make you feel as comfortable with the process as possible.Occasionally, a counselor will not have any openings for new patients or will decide after talking to you, that his or her training and expertise may not be the best match for your needs. When this is the case, counselors are likely to refer you to someone else that may be a better fit. They understand how hard it is to reach out for help, and they want to make sure you are able to get the assistance you need.
  3. You don’t have to make a long-term commitment. The relationship between counselor and patient is an important one, and if one counselor doesn’t appear to be the right one for you, it may be best to try another. A 2012 Huffington Post article explains that the therapeutic alliance is the trust between patient and therapist and that many studies indicate that it is the best predictor of treatment outcome. The article notes that it can take time to develop but that it can begin to be established during the first meeting. Trust begins to grow when therapists are attentive, ask relevant questions and demonstrate that they are listening actively. The article notes that if the alliance is good, patients will feel comfortable talking freely, will feel relieved after a session and will want to go back.

It is acceptable and not uncommon for patients to set up initial consultations with multiple therapists in order to determine who might be the best fit for them. Even if the initial consultations are not discounted, it is often a wise investment of funds to meet in person with counselors that may be of help in order to have as much information as possible before committing to a course of action. Therapists understand that patients often do this and are not offended by the process.

We Can Help

If you are looking for help with an addiction and are unsure how to proceed, our toll-free helpline is available 24 hours a day and staffed with consultants able to assist you. They can help you understand your treatment options and can check your insurance coverage for you if you wish at no cost or obligation. There is no need to walk this journey alone. Let us join your team.

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