Are you one of the millions of Americans now considering bankruptcy? If so, in most instances, you'll need to complete pre-bankruptcy credit counseling before AND after filing bankruptcy. Why are you required to complete it twice? Unbelievably, the first one is to determine if you even need to file bankruptcy in the first place, or if there's another way that you can get the fresh start that bankruptcy provides without actually filing. And the second one is understandably regarding your emergence from bankruptcy and the steps you'll need to take to keep your future financial life on track.
But let's talk about the pre-filing credit counseling requirement before you even consider bankruptcy. Since you'll be required to take this step anyway, you might want this to be your starting point. Before you call the attorney and start the paperwork to file. Pre-filing credit counseling might actually help you prevent filing at all because they'll help you to figure out if there are other options available. Perhaps there are significant changes you can make to your household budget, or there's a debt management plan that you could enroll in, or you may qualify for a personal loan… their job is to help you find these options or, if you're better off doing so, they may even advise you that bankruptcy is the best option.
Since you're considering bankruptcy, and it's typically a requirement, you really have nothing to loose, so why not set up your credit counseling session first? Not only will the counselor sit down with you and help you to prepare a workable budget, but he or she can actually help you figure out whether you need to file bankruptcy OR if you can avoid bankruptcy and possibly save your credit report from the long term damage a bankruptcy does.
Whatever direction you eventually take, credit counseling is obviously a win-win situation, and one that you seriously need to consider before filing for bankruptcy.