There are many reasons why people may be hesitant to begin counseling, but one of the concerns that I hear most often is the difficulty of making time to attend appointments. It would be easy for me to say that if counseling was important to someone they would make time for it, but I know that there can be practical time barriers to attending counseling. Time can be a significant barrier to counseling for those who work outside of the home, attend school or are the primary caregiver for their children during typical office hours. I hope that this post may inspire you to think about ways that you can work around the time barriers that interfere in getting you or a loved one the counseling services you may need.
15 Creative Ways to Make Time for Counseling
1. Get clear about what your availability is and specifically search for a counselor that is able to accommodate to your needs. Many counselors have early morning, evening or weekend hours. I don’t encourage people to use this as their sole criteria in choosing their counselor, but it may be one factor to consider in choosing the counselor who is the best fit for you.
2. Speak with your counselor about the frequency of sessions that will be needed. Although many counseling clients attend session weekly, there may be some situations where bi-weekly sessions may be appropriate.
3. Let your counselor know about the limitations to your schedule and ask him/her to help you brainstorm ways to make your schedules work.
For those who need to schedule counseling appointments around their work schedule
4. Consider attending counseling before you start your work day.
5. If you have a break for lunch, consider whether you could attend session during your lunch break.
6. Consider using some of your vacation time to leave work a little early once a week to attend sessions.
7. Ask your employer if you could adjust your schedule temporarily to work longer hours one day each week to make up for time you may need to be away attending appointments.
For those who need to schedule counseling appointments around caring for their children
8. Check with your partner to see if any of the above options (4-7) may be an option that would allow for your partner to adjust his/her schedule to be home to care for your children while you attend sessions.
9. Speak with your counselor to see if you may be able to bring your child to session with you. As a counselor who is interested in working with new parents, I am always willing to have parents bring their infants to session with them and to evaluate the appropriateness of older children attending session as well.
10. If your child needs counseling as well, consider scheduling counseling appointments for you and your child at a practice that has multiple counselors who may be able to schedule your appointments at the same time and eliminate the need for child care.
11. Consider arranging a child care swap with a family member or friend, so that you both have an opportunity to attend appointments and run errands.
For those who need to schedule counseling appointments around their child’s school schedule
12. Schedule your child’s appointments before school.
13. Check to see if your child’s school has mental health services onsite. School based mental health services are becoming more common.
14. Be pro-active in scheduling appointments on non-school days early before your child’s counselor’s schedule is full.
15. Consider whether scheduling appointments during your child’s lunch break or study hall would be an option.
I originally intended this post to be about 10 creative ways to make time for counseling, but fairly quickly came up with a list of 15. Yet, I am sure there are many ideas that I missed. If you have heard of a creative way that someone has made time for counseling appointments please feel free to leave a comment below.
I wish you the best of luck in figuring out a creative way to make time for counseling and also finding a counselor who is a good fit for you.
If you are in the Eagan, Minnesota area and in search of counseling, please visit my Counseling page to learn more about the services I offer. Please let me know if you’d like to speak about how we can make our schedules work and reduce the time barriers that may get in the way of you committing to counseling.