How to Find a Therapist, Psychologist, Counselor?
For most people, everyday life is filled with challenges. From academic and professional pressures to relationship problems, family issues, health concerns, and childcare struggles, stress is an inseparable part of our daily lives. Finding a therapist can greatly reduce these challenges and allow you to overcome adversity!
Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health complaints today. Reports show that symptoms related to anxiety and depression have soared since the outbreak of coronavirus.
While most of us are well equipped with coping mechanisms that help us manage everyday pressures, sometimes these strategies are not relevant or strong enough.
Some of our challenges and life events are too upsetting, causing emotional or mental health concerns and affecting our daily life. Sometimes our mental health issues are too overwhelming to be handled without professional help.
A mental health professional can help better understand your feelings and recognize what causes distress. Mental health counseling can also teach you effective coping strategies and change behavior patterns that cause your symptoms.
If you are thinking about therapy, here are some guidelines that may help you find a psychotherapist.
When Should You See a Mental Health Counselor?
How do you know when it is time to find a therapist? One of the most common misperceptions people have about psychotherapy is that only those mentally ill seek help from a mental health counselor. The stigma around mental illness causes millions of people to conceal their problems, never seeking professional help.
People often see asking for help as a sign of insecurity and weakness. Additionally, fear of revealing our struggles to a counselor prevents many of us from seeking much-needed support. Many people with mental illness reach for self-medication or seek relief in substances.
Mental health counseling is not exclusively reserved for people with mental illness. A therapist is someone who will listen to you without judgment, help you learn coping strategies, and help you improve your life.
Mental health counseling can also be a safe place to understand your emotions, prepare for significant life changes (or learn how to adapt to them), process loss and grief, and improve relationships.
Therefore, going to psychotherapy is not a sign of weakness or craziness. Most people who seek therapy struggle with commonplace challenges such as chronic or acute stress, problematic relationships, or low self-esteem.
Also, many couples seek marriage counseling because of communication issues, infidelity, parenting concerns, or emotional detachment. Also, some of the most common reasons people seek psychotherapy involve mental health issues such as anxiety, PTSD, eating disorders, alcohol and substance abuse, and depression.
How Do I Find a Good Therapist?
There are many great psychotherapists available today. However, choosing a good therapist involves several considerations such as the therapist’s professional experience, psychotherapy style, personality, fees, etc.
One of the first aspects to consider when looking for a good therapist is whether your potential therapist is licensed. Keep in mind that counselors with appropriate training receive a license.
Furthermore, make sure that the therapist is experienced in dealing with whatever your concern is. Find out about their theoretical orientation and if the therapy they provide matches your needs.
Finally, inquire about the psychotherapy fees, and see if your health insurance (if you have one) covers therapy costs.
Here are some things that may help you find a good therapist who matches your needs.
Identify areas you want to work on or improve. Being mindful of your symptoms (or aspects of your life you want to improve) can help your find the best therapist. For example, if you struggle with anxiety or depression, you might want a therapist specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy. People who have relationship problems would benefit from relationship counseling, etc. Also, think about knowing what forms of treatment you are open to.
Ask around. You can always ask family members or friends (especially those who are already in therapy) if they can recommend someone. Also, use the internet and search online databases for detailed listings of mental health professionals coast-to-coast.
Consider Fees. Finally, when you find a therapist that might be a good fit, consider their rates, whether they accept insurance and similar housekeeping staff.
Can a Mental Health Counselor Diagnose?
Mental health counselors are usually licensed psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, marriage and family therapists trained to evaluate a client’s mental health. They will diagnose your mental disorder or problem to determine what is the best treatment option for you.
However, only a psychiatrist (who is a medical doctor) can prescribe medication if needed.
Most mental health counselors are trained and licensed to help clients work through their problems using specific psychotherapy strategies.
What are the Types of Therapy?
Counseling and therapy services help people of all ages and backgrounds in dealing with:
- communication issues
- anger management
- relationship problems
- parenting issues
- poor coping skills
- substance abuse and addiction
- self-esteem difficulties
Before you decide which psychotherapy may be a good fit for you, it is good to know what types of therapy would fit your needs.
For instance, if you want to change your dysfunctional thoughts and behaviors, you might benefit from cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). If you’re going to tap into your subconscious mind, you might want to work with a psychodynamic therapist.
Some of the most common types of psychotherapy include:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Psychodynamic therapy
- Couples therapy
- Interpersonal therapy (IPT)
- Group therapy
- Emotion-based therapy
- Eye movement and reprocessing therapy
- Mindfulness-based therapy
- Integrative holistic therapy
Does Therapy Really Work?
One of the biggest myths about psychotherapy is that therapy is not as effective as medication. However, both mental health counseling and medications have pros and cons when it comes to their effectiveness.
It depends on your problems, unique needs, and personality, which will have positive results. For issues such as anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, communication issues, and relationship challenges, psychotherapy is often the treatment of choice.
Another myth is that only face-to-face psychotherapy works. However, online counseling can be as effective as in-office therapy.
What Can You Expect During Your First Therapy Session?
Whatever your reasons for finding a therapist, you will feel more comfortable when you know what to expect during your first therapy session. So, here some things that you can expect to happen during your entry meeting.
The first session is usually structured. This first session aims to learn more about you, your life, and your problems to assess your situation better.
So, after discussing the paperwork – the consent form, the cancellation policy, confidentiality agreement, etc., the therapist will ask many questions.
You will also discuss your history, issues, and psychotherapy goals. If sensitive topics are involved, such as trauma or abuse, your therapist may touch on those too.
You will also have the opportunity to ask questions. So, you may want to prepare a list of questions before your first session. Ask your therapist about their academic background, license, specialties, memberships, experience, fees, etc.).
Expect to experience a range of feelings during the first meeting with your counselor. It is natural to feel nervous and insecure in the beginning. However, the first session can help you decide whether that therapist is a good feel for your needs.
Can I Find a Therapist Online?
E-counseling can be as effective as face-to-face therapy sessions. It is just like traditional counseling, except that you don’t have to come to your therapist’s office. So, the significant difference between online and traditional counseling is that online counseling happens via the web, chat, or phone.
Another benefit of online therapy is flexibility. You can attend an e-therapy session from your home or office at any time you find convenient.
Also, you don’t have to limit yourself to counselors in your geographical area. This increases the chances of finding a therapist who is a good fit for you.
Like in-office therapy, online counseling aims to teach you practical strategies for dealing with personal and interpersonal issues.
But, like with other things in life, while some people find online therapy a great fit, it may not be an excellent option for others.
The goal of mental health counseling, both virtual and traditional, is to empower you to make changes in your life, overcome challenges, and heal.
A psychotherapist will help you address your needs, feelings, past traumas, and problems they create in your life. You may also improve your communication skills and overcome negative thinking patterns that cause anxiety and depression.
Many of us believe that we can handle difficulties alone. Nevertheless, most of our problems won’t go away on their own. And if you ignore your mental health concerns or relationship problems, they will most likely accumulate and escalate over time.
Counseling can provide helpful tools to approach and resolve conflicts in new, constructive ways. The sooner you find a counselor for mental health and start working on your issues, the sooner you will begin to heal and grow.