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How To Effectively Use Therapists, Psychiatrists, and Social Workers To Your Advantage

Updated on July 15, 2012

How good is your therapist?

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Dear Reader,

Welcome. I hope I can be of service to you.


Your therapist is there to serve you; to help you identify what you need to work through and to listen well. They shouldn't tell you what to do but give constructive advice.

"A good fit"

Your therapist and you should feel a positive and comfortable connection, if not you need to ask for someone you do click with. For therapy to be effective, there must be trust, clear communication, and respect for each other. I've had dozens of therapists over the years and it's hard to find a really helpful therapist, but you have every right to look around and try a few different ones.

Two things I always require in a therapist (and I tell them right away) are:

1) They must not constantly interrupt me when I talk or I forget what I'm saying

2) They must not stare at me without looking away. This makes me very uncomfortable.

The therapist I have now is the best I've ever had because not only does he not do the two things above, but he has a method of inviting me to look at my past and look at it in a unique way. I'll tell you an example. He'll say, "How does that young you feel about this? Close your eyes and what would you tell yourself at that moment when you experienced that situation? How would you comfort yourself?"

Anyways, you must inform your therapist what works best for you...they will be greatful even if you think you may be 'disagreeable'. It will help in the long run, believe me. Also, try being open and able to receive helpful feedback.

My psychiatrist

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Your Psychiatrist

Do you have a friendly psychiatrist? Do you have an unfriendly one? Does your psychiatrist meet with you only for 15 minutes or more like 45 minutes?

Many psychiatrists will check in with you for 15 minutes to view how you're doing on your medication and talk over any side effects or things going on. You should tell them of any changes in mood or feeling also. Be sure to research any suggested medicines for yourself and their side effects if your doctor (psychiatrist) does not inform you enough about them. You do have to take an active role in your recovery and your doctor may feel too busy, either way be sure to think it over. Also, Don't be afraid to suggest for your doctor to try you on certain medicines that you hear of or thing may help you. Be sure to switch psychiatrists if:

  • they do not listen to your needs
  • they refuse to be open about possible side effects
  • they are not meeting your needs in any way such as changing medications which are causing trouble for you, or not agreeing to try you on something you have a strong feeling that will work for you such as a med to help with weight loss or a med that will have less side effects.

Always take your medications as prescribed

  1. Do not take less or more than prescribed
  2. Do NOT stop taking medications all at once without consulting your doctor. This is very dangerous as one needs to taper off slowly.
  3. If you miss a dose, wait until your next time to take it; do not double dose.
  4. If you are on a new medicine and it's giving you awful side effects, CALL your doctor right away, or the doctor on call, or go to the ER.

Social Workers

Many people have a social worker assigned to them for either housing needs, or things such as help with keeping house, paying bills, or giving medication. Not everyone needs these services, housing is the main objective for most, but they can also help with many other things that you may not know about. What are these things?

  • Social Security Disability
  • Housing
  • Foodstamps
  • Foodbank
  • Discount on phone bill often called Lifeline
  • Discount on utilites- fuel assistance
  • Discount on YMCA
  • free used furniture

These are just some of the things, depending on how much money you have or how great your needs are. The objective for many when they get well is to return to work or school if possible.


Social workers in hospitals are often there to help set up a treatment program for you when you leave the hospital which may include partial hospitalization which is an intensive day treatment, or some form of theraputic structure. They may also help provide housing or help you with housing situations. Tell them what you need and how you feel. At times you may need to be assertive to get your needs met.


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    • schoolgirlforreal profile image

      schoolgirlforreal 6 years ago

      Hi Jen,

      I'm very pleased you found this helpful. I have been blessed to have received these kinds of helps. The possibilties are kinda endless just have to ask!

    • Jen's Solitude profile image

      Jen's Solitude 6 years ago from Delaware

      Great information and advice. Especially appreciated the info about social workers.