How To Choose A Therapist
May is Mental Health Month. With the permission of the American Psychological Association, here is information on how to find a therapist.
What factors are most important when choosing a therapist to treat mental health disorders?
We know that the alliance between the therapist and the client is a very important factor in treatment outcomes.
Certainly, the first step is to verify that the therapist you choose is professionally trained and licensed by a professional board for independent practice.
After that, good rapport is critical. Choose a therapist with whom you feel comfortable and at ease.
Seek important information about the therapist. For example, it is important to ask about his or her experience helping people with specific problems — such as anxiety or depression — and with certain groups, such as teens, families or the elderly. It may also be useful to ask about treatment approaches, fees and insurance.
How should a patient find a therapist?
Your primary care physician or other health care professional, clergy, friends and family can make recommendations. If you are using health insurance, the insurance company can provide a listing of mental health professionals who accept your insurance.
Why would someone consider seeing a licensed psychologist to treat a mental health disorder?
Psychologists are experts in behavioral health and practice in many settings, including schools, universities, hospitals, prisons, clinics and private practices.
Psychologists work with clients who are looking for help in making lifestyle and behavior changes that lead to better physical and mental health.
These include learning to cope with anxiety or depression, dealing with stressful situations, overcoming addictions, and managing chronic illnesses, both physical and psychological. Psychologists also administer tests and assessments that can help diagnose a condition or help understand how the person thinks, feels and behaves.
For many people, their support network of friends and family can help when life becomes overwhelming. They also may have other healthy coping mechanisms, such as exercise or relaxation.
But some people use unhealthy behaviors to manage stress, such as eating unhealthy food or drinking alcohol, which can contribute to or exacerbate chronic health problems.
When you have tried your usual approaches and still feel overwhelmed, it may be time to see a psychologist or other mental health professional.
Psychologists must be licensed by the state or jurisdiction in which they practice, just like other health care professionals.
Harold H. LeCrone, Jr., Ph.D. Copyright © 2010