What is counseling? Counseling provides guidance from a licensed professional for reducing alcohol or drug use and staying sober. Using various evidence-based treatment approaches, a counselor or therapist can help you to understand factors that contribute to your substance use, to identify and avoid triggers, to cope with cravings, and to strengthen your motivation. Counseling can also help you discover ways to cope with other life challenges.
Counseling is usually provided in an outpatient setting, but it also can be provided as part of an inpatient or residential program. And because counselors work directly with you to determine your needs, they can be good guides for determining whether treatment options, like support groups or rehab, are right for you.
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States have their own requirements for getting a counseling license, and they fall under different names. Look for counselor designations like:
A more comprehensive overview is provided by Mental Health America.
Don’t be afraid to ask if a provider is licensed. You can also go to your state’s accreditation website to determine what the right license is, as well as check if a particular provider’s license is current.
Don’t discount the importance of feeling comfortable with the person guiding your care. While it’s important that your counselor or therapist is licensed and uses evidence-based treatments, it’s also critical that you feel respected and heard. Beyond finding the treatment methodology that will work for you, focus on finding someone you can trust, with whom you can build a productive relationship.
Before you see a counselor, it’s a good idea to call your insurance company and find out which providers and types of care are covered. If you don’t have commercial insurance, you may still have options that can support your care, such as: