Counselors want to help people.
Irvine, CA (PRWEB) July 10, 2008
Twenty-six million people in the United States are diagnosed each year with a mental disorder. Several million more experience divorce, death and physical illness with associated depression and anxiety. You can't turn on the TV without seeing an ad for medication to help with everything from severe depression to shyness. But where do people who are struggling with mental health or relationship problems find relief? Counseling can often help but finding the right therapist can be a challenge. There are many types of licensed mental health care professionals with different specialties, credentials and personalities. How does one find a good counselor who really understands and can help?
According to marriage and family therapist and practice-building coach, Casey Truffo of Irvine, California, consumers are now looking to the internet to find a psychotherapist in their area. "In the past, most counseling referrals came from the clergy or a physician. But, clients didn't know anything about their therapist before they met for the first time. It was like a blind date. Clients went in for their first appointment, shared the excruciating details of their situation, and then had to decide if this was the right counselor for them. Many continued with therapy even it didn't feel right. With the internet, people seeking therapists can learn about many therapists in their geographic area. This can lead to a more informed choice of counselors and, potentially, a better resolution to the problem that brought the person into counseling."
What to look for when checking out therapists on the internet? Because Truffo believes that not every therapist is a good match for every client, one key to selecting a good therapist has to do with personality match. "When a therapist has a well-developed, multi-media website, the potential client can get a good sense of the therapist. Not only can they see what the therapist looks like (which was rarely an option before the internet), they can hear his or her voice and get a sense of how they interact," says Truffo. "Studies have shown that people do best in therapy when there is a good relationship between the client and therapist. Just like online dating, viewing a therapist's website video can help a person decide if this is the right therapist for him or her." Truffo advises, "Review several website and profiles of therapists and consider which therapist you feel would be a good match for you and your situation."
If a picture is worth a thousand words, what about audio and video? According to Truffo, those looking for a counselor can now view potential therapists' website and not only see a picture of the therapist, but also can often listen to an audio recording or view a video created by the therapist. The therapist, via multimedia, can share how he or she works and explain what steps to take to get started. "Many psychotherapists now offer online appointment scheduling so that clients can get immediate access to the therapist's schedule. This works great when you are surfing the web for a therapist at 3 a.m. You can make the appointment and go back to sleep knowing you are going to get help; you know you have a therapy appointment scheduled."
What about the cost? Psychotherapy fees can vary widely. "If finances are a concern, many communities have low-cost counseling options. These are often listed in the front pages of the phone book," says Truffo. "Also, many therapists accept credit cards for payment which can be a life-saver during tough times. Ask your therapist if he or she accepts credit cards. Don't be afraid to discuss financial concerns with your therapist."
But what about credentials? It is important that the counselor be licensed or certified in accordance with his or her state laws. In the past, this was almost impossible for the average consumer to verify. "However, now all one has to do is to go online and check the state licensing boards to discover if the therapist's license is in good standing."
Do the therapists that market on the internet do in-person or therapy over the internet? Although some therapists offer therapy via email and instant messaging, most counseling is either done in the therapist's office or over the telephone according to Truffo. "However, this is changing. We already see clients asking for more immediate and electronic forms of therapy. I believe that the 50-minute, in-office therapy session will be augmented with other options including phone, email and webcast sessions. Since 'e-therapy' is the wave of the future, I encourage therapists to be very familiar with their state licensing laws before offering such services.
Get the word out - Truffo is in the business of helping psychotherapists get the word out about what they do so that people who need help can find it and get out of pain. "Counselors want to help people." Truffo says. "Psychotherapists are now learning that by marketing on the internet, it is easy for them to let their community know they are there to help." Truffo adds, "And never before has the consumer had this type of opportunity to compare and contrast counselors before choosing the right one and getting help."
Casey Truffo, MFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist, award-winning speaker and teaches practice-building to counselors on five continents. She is the author of Be A Wealthy Therapist: Finally You Can Make a Living While Making a Difference. This book teaches therapists how to market a counseling private practice. Founder of BeAWealthyTherapist.com, her mission is to teach therapists how to ethically earn a good living. For a free audio recording, "Marketing 101 for Therapists," visit the Be a Wealthy Therapist blog.