Many of us will spend hours shopping for a car, reading consumer reports, and test driving vehicles. And it’s because we are making an important and long-term investment. Let’s face it – we depend on our cars every day and they can sometimes outlive our relationships.
We also need to be able to depend on ourselves every day and when our mental and emotional health is not what we need it to be or what it used to be, we may seek help from a licensed psychotherapist. People seek help for many reasons. Regardless of what is going on in your life that has led you to seek therapy, the following can be helpful as you begin the process of finding a therapist that is right for you.
How Do I Start the Process Of Finding A Therapist?
As you may have already noticed, there are hundreds of therapists advertising their services in the Yellow Pages, newspapers, etc. Calling each one and getting detailed information can be a very long process. Referrals from friends are not always helpful because a particular therapist and style of therapy may appeal to some and not to others plus people are sometimes hesitant to “share” their therapist. Many insurance providers only give out three names and some people choose not to use their insurance because of concerns about confidentiality.
What Type Of Therapist Do I Need?
There are many types of licensed mental health professionals, differing in educational backgrounds, training, licensure, philosophy, and technique.
- Psychiatrists are medical doctors and can prescribe medication. Very few psychiatrists also provide psychotherapy but usually refer to and work in conjunction with other psychotherapists.
- Psychologists usually have a Doctorate in Psychology and have completed an internship under supervision.
- Counselors usually have a Master’s degree in Counseling and have completed an internship under supervision.
- Clinical Social Workers typically have a Master’s degree in Social Work and have completed a supervised internship.
- Marriage and Family Counselors and Chemical Dependency Counselors are other types of licensed professionals.
Most basic differences between therapists are in their levels of education, types and lengths of internships, and experience. This will differ from state to state. Examples of Texas licensing requirements are shown in the About Therapy pages. For questions about licensing information in your state, call your state licensing board.
What Theoretical Orientation Do I Want My Therapist To Have?
Many differences between therapists show up in the area of theoretical orientation, which describes their basic philosophy and beliefs about what causes mental health distress and how they work with clients. See the About Therapy pages for definitions of theories and techniques used in therapy. Many therapists work with clients in a variety of ways and ascribe to more than one theoretical perspective.
What Are Some Questions I May Want To Ask?
It is important to get as much information about a therapist as possible before entering into a therapeutic relationship with him or her. Remember, you will be sharing very personal information with your therapist so it will need to be an individual you have confidence in and can connect with. It’s OK to interview a therapist, either in a phone conversation or in a first session, so that you can obtain the necessary information to make a well-informed decision. Here are examples of some of the types of questions you may want to ask:
- What are your credentials and training?
- What are your areas of expertise and specialization?
- What specific training do you have in your areas of specialization?
- Are you on the provider list for my insurance plan?
- What is your standard fee? How long are sessions? Do you have a sliding fee scale? Are fees different for individual, couples, or group therapy?
- How many clients have you worked with that have had similar issues to mine? How did you work with them and how did it help?
- Are you in good standing with your licensing board? Has anyone ever made a complaint against you? If so, how was it resolved?
- Do you receive your own supervision, consultation, or therapy from a professional?
- Where did you go to graduate school and where did you do your internship?
- How long have you been in private practice?
- What are your beliefs about how therapy should work? What do you do during sessions and what do you expect from a client during and between sessions?
- How can I contact you in an emergency?
How Will I Know If This Person Is The Right Therapist For Me?
After getting all the information and talking with several professionals, you will need to make a decision. At this point the best advice is to trust your gut feelings. It is important that you work with a therapist who is qualified to help you in your particular area of need and that it be an individual with whom you feel safe, can talk easily, and a person you feel you can learn to trust. Find expert therapist near me.