This is an excellent question, and if you spend a few minutes thinking about it before you pick up the phone, do an internet search or even ask a friend for a recommendation, you will save money and effort in the long run.
There are a few common variables that are important to consider when looking for an Expert.
Basics include things like:
Type of Expert (counselor, coach or educator to name a few)
It's also good to consider what your desired outcome is:
Do you simply want to feel better, or
Are you looking for a more measurable goal like getting into a healthy relationship? Getting back with your ex? Changing jobs or something more tangible?
If money is a concern, you may want to consider alternate treatment options like talking with your Expert over the phone instead of in an office. Often Experts can offer discounted rates if they work with you remotely because they don't have to pay for office expenses. They save on overhead, and you save on your hourly rate.
There are many different kinds of Experts, and everyone who is a member of YourTango Experts is trained to help you in some way. Some Experts are traditional and follow a formal business model, while others are progressive and offer creative alternatives to support healing and growth.
Which is the best fit for you? It's a truly a personal choice; our hope is that the guide below can steer you in the right direction so you can find the very best fit for you.
Top things to consider when searching for an Expert:
As they say in real estate, everything comes down to location, location, location. The good news is that in today's virtual world you are no longer bound by the traditional model of going to someone's office. Many Experts now offer their services remotely; the most common methods are the telephone, Skype and meeting in public locations like Starbucks.
Remote sessions work just as they would if you were meeting face-to-face: you have a set appointment time, a set fee and a set length of time to meet. Compensation is expected at the end of the session and payment can be made by check or via the web. Each Expert is different in this regard, so you'll want to ask how your Expert accepts compensation.
The most impressive benefit of remote services for you as a client is that you may choose a Expert who genuinely meets your budget, desired skill set and fits your personality, regardless of where that person is located in the US.
Most Experts will want to meet with you on a scheduled basis. Some will use a more structured approach with treatment plans, goals and timelines. Others will be comfortable with an open-ended plan that allows you to see them as long as you like. Typically, if you're looking for a measurable result from your sessions (i.e. you want to lose 20 pounds or you want to start dating within three months) you will want to talk with your Expert about how frequently he/she will want to meet so you can realistically accomplish your goal.
Traditional sessions are 50 minutes in length with the session starting on the hour and ending 10 minutes before the hour is up. Some Experts have strict boundaries about their time, and they will hold you to the 50-minute meeting quite firmly, while others are more flexible and will see you for 50 - 60 minutes. You'll also want to ask your Expert about the appointment cancellation policy. Some Experts will charge you for the missed time and some will not; most request 24 hours notice for a cancellation.
When you first meet your Expert, make sure to determine if your expectations can realistically be met. Not all goals can be accomplished in five or even 10 sessions. To give you both the opportunity to create a positive relationship, you'll want to think about your desired outcome and look specifically at how long you'll see each other, how often you'll see each other and what you can do outside of the sessions to increase your healing/growth.
Think about what you can realistically afford. When you contact a Expert ask him/her what the hourly or session rate is. Then consider how often you think you want to see a Expert and what you can afford weekly and monthly. Often the answer will determine how frequently you can see a Expert and the kind of Expert you can afford.
Traditionally, the more qualified, educated and credentialed an Expert is, the higher the costs. Some highly qualified Experts will discount their services based on the client's legitimate need. If you're looking for discounted alternatives here are a few things to consider:
Insurance: If you have medical insurance and there is a mental health option available to you, always ask your Expert if s/he accepts insurance. Not all Experts do, and by law, some Experts are not allowed to accept insurance. If you find that the only way you can afford a Expert is with help from your insurance, we suggest that you contact your insurance provider and ask for a list of providers that accept your medical plan. You can also search within our Expert database and select Experts that "accept insurance" to give you our list.
Sliding Fee Scale: Some Experts have a sliding fee scale, and those that do are often willing to adjust and lower their rates according to your income/need. You can search within our YourTango Experts database to find Experts that offer a sliding fee scale; simply select the advanced option for "sliding fee scale" and this will give you our list. If you're unsure if a person offers discounts, it's always wise to ask during your first contact with the Expert to see what rate adjustments are available.
Questions, Boundaries & Personal Details
As a client, you can ask your Expert any and all, questions you have related to fees, credentials, experience, sessions, etc. It's important that you feel totally comfortable with your Expert so you can honestly work on the issue(s) that brought you to the sessions.
Please know that each Expert will have a different boundary related to the amount of personal details they are comfortable sharing. It is not uncommon for many Experts to keep the focus off of themselves because attention to their lives may cloud the purpose of your meetings. Experts know that you are paying for the service, and they want to help you as concretely and purposefully as they can. As such, you will be the focus of the sessions, and not the Expert.
Types of Experts
There are several types of Experts and each one has a unique skill set to help clients work on relationship and other life issues. To help simplify our search proess we have asked Experts to categorize themselves. As you search, you'll find many different types of Experts including counselors, psychologists, coaches of varieties, matchmakers, educators and more. To learn more about an indivudal's expertise, take a few minutes to ask them about their work and how they work. Most Experts are happy to share.
Truly not all Experts are created equal. In fact, many Experts work hard to separate themselves from the masses by acquiring additional skills, training and expertise in dedicated areas. Consider things like marriage/couples support, drug/alcohol abuse, gay/lesbian/identity issues etc. Additionally, there are Experts who specialize in specific schools of thought such as psychoanalysis, Gestalt therapy, life coaching etc. If you have a desire to see a Expert with one of these additional levels of expertise, simply use advanced search and select the specialization options you want from the dropdown menus.
Contacting Your Expert
After you've found Experts through search or through browsing on the site, be sure to take a few minutes to learn more about them on their web pages. Each Expert has a web page on YourTango that includes a personal bio and lots of details about services offered. You can contact a Expert directly by email or telephone, or by requesting a free consultation if the Expert offers that service.
Ready to begin? Click here to begin your search for a Expert now.