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Mental Health Help

Updated on November 21, 2016

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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). can give you more information regarding the difference in the degrees.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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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  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 6 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    You brought up some great points Ruby! Thank you for your expertise and thoughts. It sounds like you are a therapist?

    I agree about trust - big issue. Also, I have been to a few that make you feel intimidated. And I did run!

  • Ruby Glasser profile image

    Ruby Glasser 6 years ago from Wyoming

    A couple of thoughts:

    1) Trust? Confidentiality is key to every counseling relationship so this seems hard for me to gauge.

    2) Level of experience/education can be deceiving. From personal experience, I've found PHd level often lack interpersonal skills, can be intimidating and ego-laden, and their education way more academic than counseling-oriented. If you feel intimidated, judged, belittled... Run!

    3) Years of experience can work against you... uh, there's a high burn-out rate in helping professions!! Watch out for experienced, bitter therapists who are stuck in their own lives and careers!

    4) "At least 5 years"?... is this just a random number? If your state requires licensure, that's what it key. A counselor who has gone through the rigors of getting licensed has jumped through a lot of hoops and they WANT to being doing this.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thanks terrowhite for your comments. Glad you enjoyed it. Aloha!

  • terrowhite profile image

    terrowhite 8 years ago

    Creative, informative and decorative hub..liked the picture and the tips.. people need a therapist and they should know when ...good work :)

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Great! Thanks for the comments earnestshub. Glad you liked it.

  • earnestshub profile image

    earnestshub 8 years ago from Melbourne Australia

    The dog did it for me! I think that is the cutest shrink I have ever seen! The doctor is in! Very good advice.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thanks Sage. Your comments are truly valuable. I appreciate you sharing your experiences also. I totally agree.

  • Sage Williams profile image

    Sage Williams 8 years ago

    Great topic and nice hub. I have had both good and bad experiences. In fact, in my hub the art of transference addresses both of my experiences.

    Your advice about recommendations is HUGE! I learned both ways. From a recommendation, I had a wonderful experience. And I like you, choosing a name out of a phone book resulted in a terribly bad experience. Just because they have those three or four little initials and hold a degree does not necessarily qualify them as being good.

    Some of the most valuable things that I have found is a good listener, one who has the ability to be empathetic and free of any judgments. One who is on the same page as you are. By that I mean is very knowledgeable and understanding of your experiences.

    Most importantly when you leave, you feel as though you have done the work. Not the therapist. The therapist has been there for support and guidance when needed.

    Great Job,


  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Glad you like the hub Ann Nonymous. I appreciate your dropping in to check out how to choose a therapist. Aloha!

  • Ann Nonymous profile image

    Ann Nonymous 8 years ago from Virginia

    Hi elayne! Good advice and pictures to further elaborate on your well written hub. And one of the pictures looks a lot like quincydawonderdog....Cosettes alterego!

    Thanks for sharing!

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thanks ladyjane1 and Pamela99 for your comments. Never know when we might be seeking out a therapist. Hopefully not too soon. Aloha!

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 8 years ago from United States

    Great advice as choosing a therapist is so important. I know many people have been hurt instead of helped, so your guidelines are really good. great hub.

  • ladyjane1 profile image

    ladyjane1 8 years ago from Texas

    Yea I think we all are a bit off. Great hub and good information I learned something today as I always do. Thanks.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    drbj - thanks for your comments - guess I'll have to check out Maddie's answers.

    JannyC - many people are anti-therapist, but they (therapists) are useful to a degree. It is really more about the individual helping themself, but therapists can guide them in their transformation.

  • JannyC profile image

    JannyC 8 years ago

    Nice advice. Do you get to like interview each one before you pick? Writing is my therapy. I am a bit anit therapist but thats just me.

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 8 years ago from south Florida

    Hi, elayne, the photo above is so sppropriate, but you have chosen the wrong animal, the bulldog, to impersonate the therapist.

    You should have chosen a pig. (See full answer to Maddie Rudd's question).

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    I truly appreciate your comments LianaK. Yes, we all need help from time to time - some more than others. Thanks.

  • LianaK profile image

    LianaK 8 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. I know that everyone could probably benefit from a counseling session or two at various points in their life. Just like medicine, it is important to find a good fit. Thank you for the wonderful advice and excellent resources.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Hello, hello, hello hello - anyone there? Just kidding? Glad you stopped by to give me your two sense worth or is it 2 cents worth - anyways. Thanks.

  • elayne001 profile image

    Elayne 8 years ago from Rocky Mountains

    Thanks Aaron99. Glad you stopped over to check out my tips for choosing a therapist. We all need one from time to time (at least I do).

  • Hello, hello, profile image

    Hello, hello, 8 years ago from London, UK

    Wonderful advice and thank you very much.

  • profile image

    AARON99 8 years ago

    Excellent hub with very helpful tips. This tips must be known to each and everyone before choosing a therapist. Well done. Enjoy.