Your child, your life, and your marriage are all in trouble. Whether an adult or a child needs therapy, it takes research, patience, and a good gut feeling to find the right therapist. But many people find this task scary. Seek expert advice. There are PhDs, PsyDs, MDs, MSs, and MSWs, as well as titles like psychiatrist, psychologist, marriage and family therapist, family counselor, licensed professional counselor, and social worker.
Yes, all of these therapists do help with mental health. But each has a different background, training, insights, and personality. How do you find a therapist that fits your needs? Please don’t give up because the search will be worth it. A good therapist is worth gold, no matter how you find them. A good therapist doesn’t judge, doesn’t reject, and is patient.
First, look at the job titles: Psychiatrists are doctors trained to diagnose and treat mental or psychiatric illnesses. They have studied medicine and are allowed to write prescriptions. They are also trained in psychotherapy, known as “talk” therapy, which aims to alter a person’s behavior or way of thinking.
Psychologists are experts in psychology who have earned a Ph.D. or Psy.D. They study the mind and behavior of people and are trained in counseling, psychotherapy, and psychological testing, which can help you find emotional problems you might not know you have. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the main thing a psychologist uses to help people figure out and change their wrong ideas about themselves and the world. Psychologists are not allowed to write prescriptions for drugs. But if you need to see a psychiatrist, they can send you to one.
Counselors and Social workers are specialists who offer social services in health care that managed care organizations now run. They try to improve and maintain a person’s mental and social health by demonstrating empathy and providing advice on how to interact with others. They help people deal with their relationships and solve personal and family problems to do their best in their environment.
Counselors can help with depression, substance addiction, suicidal thoughts, stress management, self-esteem difficulties, aging, emotional health and family, parenting, and marital or other relationship problems. State laws say that these counselors must have at least a master’s degree in counseling and 3,000 hours of experience after getting their master’s degree. They have a license or certification to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders independently.
Keep an open mind when you start looking. For a therapist to be helpful, they don’t need decades of experience or a sheepskin from an Ivy League school. Psychiatrists used to be thought of as the most qualified because they had the most education. But that’s no longer true. Some psychiatrists haven’t kept up since their licenses 25 years ago. Usually, they focus on helping couples and families and putting together group therapy sessions. Some of them are good, but others aren’t. It’s not all about credentials. Some are excellent. Even someone with great credentials doesn’t mean they’re a good therapist. Even if they are smart, that doesn’t mean they are wise.
Gather names. Start with names from the company that manages your health care. Make sure you get a list of all the providers. Then, ask your friends and coworkers if they know a psychologist or psychiatrist who could make suggestions from that list.
Call a college or university’s psychiatry or psychology department and ask for suggestions from people trained in that program. At least then you’ll know they’re being watched. If you’re moving, ask your therapist or his colleagues for recommendations. Call a large clinic and ask the person at the front desk for suggestions. They know who can do what. They match you well.
If it makes you feel bad to ask for help, get over it. It’s too important to fail. Check with professional groups to learn about a therapist’s experience, if they do psychotherapy, treat children, etc. People who want to find a therapist can get lists like this from the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association. But don’t try to get mental health care on the cheap.
Ask questions about the therapist’s experience at the first meeting. How many patients have had the same issue as you? How did things turn out? Ask about the rules, fees, and how to pay.
You find a therapist the same way you find any other health care worker.
They have to be qualified and professional and have no lawsuits against them. And they have to be an excellent intuitive match. You can’t overestimate how important it is to feel a good intuitive match with someone. Also, you should leave if they get angry when you ask them about themselves.
Also, it’s essential to know if your therapist has ever been in therapy. It’s surprising how many therapists have never had their own therapy. They must have dealt with their own problems, or they will try to steer you away from things that make them feel bad. They might also tell you about their problems.
Ask yourself, “Does this person make me feel pretty good?” The best criterion isn’t how comfortable you feel because if you’re too comfortable, all you do is talk, which doesn’t help you. Does the therapist hear what I say? How many questions do they ask? Especially in the first session, the therapist should ask you many questions to get to know you and your problems.
Has your therapist asked you what you want to get out of therapy and how you want to live? If neither the patient nor the therapist sets a goal, how will you know when you’ve reached it? Are you happy with what the therapist has to offer? Do you have to find your therapy group, for example? Or is your therapist asking other therapists if they know of a group that would benefit you? Do you understand what the therapist is saying? Does it seem like bad advice? Do you need it or not?
Patients don’t always like these suggestions, but they are good advice.