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When choosing a family counseling service, you should consider the needs of your family, including the type or types of counseling needed by your family members and their schedules and transportation resources. You should also investigate the reputation of the service as well as the credentials of its therapists. If you don't have insurance or are concerned about costs, you will want to find a family counseling service that offers its services for free, at a low cost, or on a sliding scale. If possible, you should also select a service that specializes in treating families rather than just individuals or couples.
If your family is experiencing difficulties and you feel that getting family counseling is a good idea, you may wish to contact a family counseling service for help. The availability of these services will often depend on the community in which you live, as larger towns and cities may offer more choices than smaller towns or rural areas. You may wish to ask for a referral from your family doctor, your child's school social worker, or your office's employee assistance program. Some religious organizations operate a family counseling service, so you may wish to ask your clergyperson for a referral as well.
When contacting a family counseling service, you will typically first speak to an intake worker. Be sure to explain in detail the issues that your family is coping with. Some services may be able to match you with a therapist who has experience counseling families with similar issues. For example, if a member of your family is abusing drugs or alcohol, you may be matched with a therapist experienced in working with addicts and their families. Ask about appointment scheduling. Evening or weekend appointments may be more convenient for your family members. It is also generally considerate to choose a counseling center that you can all can easily get to, either by driving, walking, or public transportation.
Ask the intake worker about the credentials of the family counseling service's counselors, as you want to make sure that you are working with licensed professionals. If you are hoping that the family counseling service will assist you with some specific issues, such as addiction or anger management, ask if any of its therapists hold professional certifications in those areas. Be aware that some counseling centers, particularly those that offer low-cost or sliding scale counseling, may be staffed by graduate students. Although graduate students may be able to offer excellent counseling services, your family's needs may be beyond the current abilities of a graduate student counselor.
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