Mental Health Therapy
Thanks for the challenge to come up with some tips for choosing a therapist, but first off, I want you to know that I am not crazy, just a little off. And, yes, I have actually been to one (therapist, I mean).
It would be easier for me to tell you what not to look for - from my experience, but I will try to look at this positively.
Okay, here goes:
- Choose someone that has been a therapist for at least five years. Longer is even better, because you don't want to be the guinea pig for anyone. See if you can ask as many questions to the therapist as they no doubt will ask you. That way you are not the only one sharing your whole life story.
- Choose a therapist for more than just their name. I once went to a therapist because her name was Dr. Friend. I figured she would be very understanding and helpful, but I was wrong. Do a little investigating about a therapist to see if they have had much success with individuals such as yourself.
- Choose someone who you will feel comfortable with. If you are interested in getting relief for a chemical imbalance, you may not want to choose a therapist that will make you delve into your shady past and bring up all the skeletons in your closets. If you like sharing all your secrets more than taking medications, find out the ways in which a therapist treats patients.
- Choose a therapist that you can trust 100 per cent. You will probably only get worse if you end up having to lie to your therapist to save face. They are supposed to keep your confidences confidential. That way you can really share what is bothering you without feeling threatened. You are, after all, there for help, not to be judged. The more honest you are about how you feel, the better you can start to get better.
- Choose a therapist that is licensed in your state. If they have a M after their name, they probably have at least a Master's degree. Clinical social workers and Counselors can give therapy also, but do not have as much formal training as Psychiatrists (M.D. - medical degree specializing in Psychiatry) or as Psychologists (Ph.D.- Doctorate of Philosophy or Psy.D - Doctorate of Psychology). Don't be afraid to shop around and get as much information as you can before you decide on a therapist.
- Choose the most skilled professional that you can afford. Remember that therapy is an investment in yourself. If you do have insurance, it should pay for several therapy sessionsa year, at least partially, and you may also fork out a co-pay (at least that is for now - who knows with the new Obama health care program?). If you are worried about the money part, it will be hard to keep up with your therapy sessions. Do you need a Psychologist (similar to a General Practitioner) or a Psychiatrist (more like a mental health specialist - these are the ones who can prescribe psychotropic medication if they feel you need it). http://psychcentral.com/diff.htm can give you more information regarding the difference in the degrees.
- It is good to be aware of the therapists previous employment. I was seen by a person who I later found had been fired from his last place of employment for inappropriate behavior with a patient. Another was sued for fraud. You can also check online if they have had any complaints filed against them. Also, find out if they carry malpractice insurance.
- You probably will not feel relief from your emotional turmoil after the first or second therapy session, but If after a few sessions, you still do not feel like you are being helped, you may want to reconsider your choice. There is nothing wrong with changing from one therapist to another as long as you are not just therapist jumping for the fun of it. You may just not be compatible with a certain personality type. Also, if your religious beliefs or ethics conflict with what the therapist is telling you, you may want to consider someone with similar beliefs and ethics.
- One of the most frustrating things for me seeing a therapist was just getting into a very emotional place in my life and then having the doctor tell me my time is up. Kill me now! You need to feel that the therapist is interested and concerned enough not to leave you like that. Even if a therapist has all the degrees and experience, if they do not show compassion in your hour of need, say goodbye. Look for someone who is warm and respectful of your feelings. You should feel hopeful when you leave asession, not more depressed. Before starting, it is good to know how much time your session is scheduled for.
- Take recommendations from people that you trust. Your primary physician may have suggestions or even your ecclesiastical leader. You should also check with your insurance as they tend to cover only very qualified therapists.
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