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How to Choose a Psychiatrist or Therapist

Updated on May 29, 2008

Don't Be Afraid To Get Help

I wish I did not have experience in this arena, but going through life changes can definitely make one depressed, anxious, unable to cope with stress, or all of the above. I admit that clinical psychology and pyschiatry are big businesses in America, so one needs to be careful in assessing if the issues are situational and temporary before finding help that may be quite costly. If you have been depressed or anxious for months and have a hard time doing normal, everday things (socializing, working, concentrating, staying motivated with your goals), then it's probably time to consider therapy.

But how do you go about that? Do you look for a counselor, a psychiatrist, a psychologist? There are many professionals out there that you can choose from. A good place to start is your health insurance network. Although there are many certified counselors out there, try to find a psychologist. Get one that is the same as your gender, if possible. Psychologists will not only listen to you vent about your issues, but they will teach you coping skills and ways to modify your behavior and way of thinking so that your problems can be resolved.

But finding a good psychologist is not easy. Go with your instinct--on your first session, figure out if you think this person can help you or not. You may have to go through a few doctors before finding one that works for you--try to be patient with this. Make sure you are comfortable talking to them and that they seem to understand fully what you are going through. For example, if you are female and having a hard time with your marriage, then it would make sense to find a doctor that is also female and also married. The doctor will be able to sympathize or empathize with you as a person, but can also help you professionally by helping you solve your problems.

If further help is needed, only then consider seeing a psychiatrist. My only warning is that pyshiatrists are sometimes quick to prescribe anti-depressants, and this might not be the correct route for you. Make sure you do your research and get your doctor's advice before deciding that you may need drugs to help your physical condition. My own psychologist said that usually, a combination of medication and therapy works best for most people who are depressed or anxious. Therefore, continue to see your psychologist for counseling even if you are prescribed medication. Again, make sure your psychiatrist is someone you are comfortable with and willing to help you find the best solution to your situation.

Lastly, be realistic--if you decide to seek professional help, know that things will take time and that your situation won't change overnight. You will have to do work for things to get better. But as always, a positive attitude is what will help you get through everything.

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    • profile image

      Blog Specialist 

      7 years ago

      Picking a good doctor, therapist, or psychiatrist can be hard. There are lots of factors that play into picking a good one that, for obvious reasons, can be difficult. I always suggest people call a psychiatrist and speak with them vaguely before submitting to their services.

    • Stacie Naczelnik profile image

      Stacie Naczelnik 

      10 years ago from Seattle

      Thanks, this was informative. I like how you point out that a psychologist will help you learn tools to handle things in life.

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