Before people can file for bankruptcy, they have to attend credit counseling. People should understand what this counseling consists of, as well as how to choose a professional to work with. 

People usually have to take two credit counseling sessions. According to Nerd Wallet, people have to attend one of these sessions before they file for bankruptcy and a second one before the court finalizes the bankruptcy. 

What to expect at each session 

During the first session, a counselor discusses the details of the bankruptcy process. This helps people understand whether bankruptcy is the right option for their situation and what to expect as they proceed. Additionally, counselors explain other solutions people may not have considered. These might include a debt management plan or debt consolidation. People obtain a certificate of completion after this counseling session. If they do not receive a certificate, they may be unable to proceed with their bankruptcy. 

People attend a second counseling session to learn how to manage their finances. The counselor typically helps people understand how they can create a budget, save money and monitor their credit scores. This session helps to ensure that people do not need another bankruptcy in the future. People receive another certificate when they finish this counseling session. The court may not finalize the bankruptcy without this certificate. 

How to pick a counselor

People should interview several credit counseling agencies before they pick one to work with. According to the Federal Trade Commission, people should ask if a credit counseling agency offers free educational materials. People should also ask about the expense and whether the company works with people who cannot pay. 

Additionally, people should ask about the qualifications of the staff. Do the counselors have recognized certifications and accreditations? People may also want to pick a credit counseling agency that offers a variety of services. This can help ensure that they understand all their options before they decide to proceed with the bankruptcy.