I Live in Olympia WA and Am Looking for a Counselor, Any Suggestions?

Question by Abby: I live in Olympia WA and am looking for a counselor, any suggestions?
I have needed to see a counselor for some time now to work on my depression, stress, family issues etc. It is starting to effect my relationship poorly and promised to get help. Any suggestions for around my area would be greatly appreciated.

Best answer:

Answer by Linda D
There are quite a few counselors, psychologists, therapists and other mental health professionals here in Olympia, but your decision about which person to choose has several components. First, do you relate better talking with and receiving help from a man or a woman? Also, what kind of “style” of therapy would you prefer? Some counselors like to give concrete suggestions and steps (or “assignments”) to help you change and progress, while others simply listen and lead you to come up with your own conclusions and next action steps. Some are very approachable and friendly, while others are more aloof and distant (more like an authority figure). There’s a whole range of styles and philosophies in between! Also, do you have any financial constraints that will have to be considered when you’re choosing this counselor? If you don’t have health insurance that includes mental health benefits and covers counseling sessions, this might be a factor in your decision.

If you’re a student at one of our local colleges, there are often counselors available at no charge or on a low sliding scale fee basis. Also, some clinics have counseling interns who, because they have to legally complete a certain number of clinic hours working with people in order to become certified/licensed, usually charge a far lower fee than established therapists. These could all be good options for you.

If you’re not a student, but you’re considered “low income,” you can contact the nonprofit Sea Mar Olympia Outpatient Behavioral Health Clinic that offers free or sliding scale fee counseling services based on your income. This Clinic is located at 409 Custer Way , Suite D, Tumwater, WA 98501-3300 and their phone number is (360) 570-8258. Their website is at http://www.seamar.org/locations/olympia_obh.htm.

As you make your decision about which therapist to see, make sure this person is someone you can relate to. According to a good article at http://choosingatherapist.net/, one strong finding in psychology research consistently emerges: patients who find psychotherapy helpful say the most important part of therapy is the relationship with the therapist. First and foremost, we want to find someone we can trust and whom we feel understands us and we feel comfortable with. Usually, this is a warm person, who is easy to talk to and whom we feel is actively engaged with us and our situation and feelings, etc. According to this article, “The relationship alone is not enough, but in therapy it is the river on which everything else flows, and without this deep connection everything else, even insights or wisdom, will seem empty words.”

“But therapy, real therapy, is not cheerleading; it can be an intensely emotional process. This may include moments when the therapist has blunt or difficult comments for you. There is also a chance that you may feel hurt by or angry at your therapist, misunderstood or worse, feel slighted or demeaned in therapy. You want a relationship strong enough for this or anything to be open for discussion and resolution.” There are other articles and websites online that, similarly, provide suggestions on how to choose the right therapist, including: http://psychcentral.com/therapst.htm, http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/publications/allpubs/ken98-0046/default.asp, http://www.healthymind.com/choose.html, and others.

After you’ve thought about all this and you’re ready to make a selection, you can go to the Psychology Today magazine’s website online and see a list (with photos and brief descriptions) of counselors in the Olympia area at http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/state/WA/Olympia.html. Additional therapists can be found at http://www.counselingseattle.com/thurston-county/olympia-wa.htm and elsewhere online. Just do a web search for “therapist olympia wa”, “psychologist olympia wa”, “counselor (or counseling) olympia wa” or similar key words.

If you’re covered for counseling sessions by your health insurance or by Group Health Cooperative, etc., you can get a list of referred therapists from them. Similarly, if you have trusted friends who can refer you to a therapist they’ve liked, this could be a great resource, as well!

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices between several counselors, you have every right to call them and speak with them briefly by phone before you make your final decision and set up your first appointment. In this way, you can get a better idea of whether a particular therapist is the right “fit” for you. There are some good websites that even provide questions to ask when choosing a counselor, including: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=47440, http://psychcentral.com/lib/2006/questions-to-ask-your-therapist/ and others.

I truly hope this is helpful! All the best!

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