First you need to look up the family counselor’s website. The website alone can give you a feel for the counselor’s attitude. There you can find most of the licensing and credentials of the family counselor. A professional’s credentials should follow their name and usually does. Again, you are looking for the acronyms LMFT, PsyD or PhD. Also, a word of caution: people can attain a PhD and not be a Clinical Psychologist. Look for the details of what kind of PhD they are before assuming them to be a doctor of clinical psychology. Ask them if you are not sure. The information should be located under a tab that says “about me” or “meet me” or something like that.
Secondly you need to meet the family counselor. As a general rule, therapists offer a free phone consultation which only gives you a minimal amount of information about and “feeling for” the therapist. It is much better to find a family counselor that allows you to meet them in person. Usually this is only a 10 minute meeting so you can see them and see their office environment. Since 80% of our communications are not verbal (mannerisms, facial expressions, and chemistry, etc) then you need to be in the presence of that therapist to know if you are compatible. It shouldn’t cost you a full session fee to find out that one essential piece of information. Even though you will need to work with that family counselor to know the full affect of their work, this is a GREAT way to “feel” for the right therapist.
Third: You need to see how they treat your child or children. If a child does not like or feel comfortable with the family counselor, little progress can be achieved. A child must feel comfortable enough to be in the therapy office alone with the therapist. Although it may take a couple visits for this to happen, it may be a necessary step for assessment. You also need to be comfortable with leaving your child with the therapist. Most of the time the family will be together in sessions. However, a good therapist will connect with the children in a relatively short period of time. Note: Adolescents will take a longer period of time to be comfortable with a therapist than a smaller child will. However, a smaller child will “sense” the connection much faster than an adolescent will.