How do I find a counselor?

On-Base:

  • The Mental Health Clinic (if you are a service member on active duty)
  • The Base Chapel
  • Airman & Family Readiness Center
  • Military Family Life Counselors

Off-Base: There are many different ways to locate a professional counselor in the community. Some common ways include:

• TRICARE – Go to https://tricare.mil and click on the link to search for clinician. There you can search for a specialty. For example, select “Behavioral Health/Mental Health,” specify your location and  then distance you are willing to travel. When you hit search it will give you a list of providers within that distance  and provide you their contact information.

• The National Board for Certified Counselors referral service (phone NBCC at 336-547-0607 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday to find a certified counselor in your area)

• The yellow pages listed under counselor, marriage and family counselors, therapist or mental health

• Referral from your physician

• Recommendations from trusted friends

• Crisis hotlines

• Community mental health agencies

• Local United Way information & referral service

• Hospitals

• Child protective services

• Referral from clergy

• Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)

Once you have found a counselor you are interested in seeing, you should ask several important questions, such as:

• Are you a licensed or certified counselor?

• What is your educational background?

• How long have you been practicing counseling?

• What are your areas of specialization (such as family therapy, women’s issues, substance abuse counseling, etc.)?

• What are your fees?

• Do you accept my insurance?

• How is billing handled?

• Do you offer a sliding fee scale or a payment plan if I do not have insurance for mental health services?

• How can you help me with my problems?

• What type of treatment do you use?

• How long do you think counseling will last?

Some of these questions may be addressed during your initial phone conversation with the counselor and others may be more appropriately discussed in your first face-to-face meeting.

After you have had these questions answered by the counselor to your satisfaction, consider how comfortable you feel with the individual, since you will be working closely together during your counseling sessions. It is difficult to open up and share your problems with a stranger and you may feel awkward or anxious during your initial sessions. But it is also important that you have a “chemistry” or rapport with the counselor. Counselors have different styles, personalities, and approaches. Take time to evaluate how you feel interacting with the counselor and whether you believe that the two of you can work effectively together. If you do not feel at ease with a certain counselor, do not get discouraged. Instead, look for a different individual with whom you would feel more comfortable working with.

Together you and your counselor will set goals, work toward achieving them, and assess how well you are actually meeting them. Counseling can help you maximize your potential and make positive changes in your life. Finally, remember that counseling may be hard work at times but change and progress do happen. A professional counselor can provide the help and support to help you master the challenges of life.