How To Choose a Safe Counselor or Coach
"How do I choose a safe counselor or coach?"

If there is a question that I get asked almost every day, it's this one.

I have hesitated to write about this because it is a HUGE QUESTION.

Many of us have experienced secondary abuse from "Biblical counselors," so I will say, "BEWARE!"

Not all Biblical counselors are bad, not all licensed counselors are good. 

I do not suggest asking a church leader for recommendations for counselors. 

Many churches will push "in house" "counseling" and will warn against "secular" counseling. 

Too often, the connection between the brain and body is overlooked and spiritually bypassed.

Here are a few things to remember:

Look for humility and a willingness to learn. Counselors are human. They are not God. They are fallible, and they are not all knowing. Watch for their response when you suggest resources or share what you are learning in groups like Held & Healed. Ask if they are pursuing their own therapy, I would be very leery or any counselor who doesn't have a counselor. 

You are the client/consumer. You get to choose who you work with. Ask questions and interview your potential counselor before you decide. You can walk away at any time if you feel unsafe, unheard, or dissatisfied. If your counselor is licensed and they do anything that causes you to feel unsafe, you can report them. Ask for the contact information for that reporting up front. 

Do not attend counseling with an abuser. Period. There are thirteen patterns/systems of abuse, read more here. If you are experiencing any/all of these, DO NOT AGREE TO COUNSELING WITH AN ABUSER. It is is unwise, unsafe, and unethical. If your counselor understands abuse and trauma, they will not even suggest this. 

Do they offer more than just talk therapy? When working through trauma, you will need practical tools in your toolbox. What do they offer? EMDR, somatic therapy, tapping, nervous system regulation, etc.? What works for one person may not work for another, Each person's experience will be unique and each therapy plan needs to be created with that person in mind. 

Are they abuse/trauma-specialized? What certifications/trainings do they have?

There are so many more things to consider when choosing a safe counselor or coach. 

Here are some other resources that share other considerations:

From Held & Healed Podcast: How to Choose a Safe Counselor or Coach 

From Sarah McDugal: Seven Questions to Ask Your Counselor Before You Waste Your Money

From Gretchen Baskerville: Marriage Counseling In Abusive Situations is Unethical

From To Love, Honor, and Vacuum: Ten Questions to Ask a Biblical Counselor to Make Sure They're Safe 

From Mending the Soul: How to Find a Counselor 

Ladies, you are welcome to join us at Held & Healed: Christian Women Rebuilding After Abuse, where we discuss topics like this every single day.

I also invite you to join the Held & Healed Haven, a monthly membership group that offers a more intimate setting to discuss trauma, abuse, mental health, nervous system regulation and so much more. For more info, click here. 

For a sample of a guest interview, watch this intro video with Indie Sozo, where we begin the conversation of choosing a safe counselor/coach. 


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