Friday, February 7, 2014

How do I find a therapist?

     There are many different therapists out there to choose from.  Some are wonderful and some are not so wonderful.  The first step is to make an attempt at clarifying for yourself what you want to accomplish in therapy.  For example, do you want help with depression or anxiety, or do you really need a diagnostic workup because you suspect the problem but are not really sure?  Do you need help and guidance dealing with an external issue, such as a work struggle or friendship issue?  Do you lack the confidence or self-esteem you feel you should have?  Are there past childhood issues that need to be resolved or are you experiencing marital conflicts?  The second step is to decide if you want individual, couple, or family therapy?  The third step is to do some research on the different types of therapy that are being offered from psychoanalysis to cognitive behavioral therapy, with many options in-between.  Next, be open and honest with your Primary Care Physician (PCP) as that is the first place to obtain a referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist.  Your Dr. probably knows a few mental health professional that he/she can recommend, which is better than just picking out a name from an insurance list.  If your Dr. can’t make a recommendation for you, than call your insurance company and get a list.  Try and look up the professionals on the list and get a feel for their specialty.  It does not make sense to want couples counseling and find out in the first session that the therapist you chose does not do couples counseling.  

When you call to make your first appointment, be clear with the office staff about what you are looking for.  It is also reasonable to have a preference for either a male or female psychologist.  If you know a family member or friend who is seeing someone, that is sometimes the best recommendation because your family and friends will be honest with you about whether or not the therapy seems professional and helpful.  All that being said, therapy is like dating.  If you don’t click with the first psychologist or psychiatrist, meet with another one.  You can be a wonderful person and the therapist can be a wonderful therapist, but the chemistry just may not click and much of the therapy is intertwined with the personality of the therapist.  Also, for those of you who are not sure, a psychiatrist is a medical doctor and treats with medication (also called the biological approach) and the psychologist treats with talk therapy. Therapy is a safe place to work on resolving whatever issues you want to address, and don’t worry, the therapist has heard it all before and you will not shock them.   

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