Are you looking for a therapist to help you? This guide is here to give you the lowdown on what to look for.
Psychiatrists Vs. Psychologists
When you begin the journey to finding professional help with your mental health, your first step needs to be zeroing in on the appropriate type of treatment. Lee notes that one of the biggest differences between psychiatrists and psychologists is the issue of medication. Psychiatrists can write prescriptions, while psychologists use other tools to help you resolve mental health issues.
If you’re comfortable with a medication-based approach to mental therapy, the best place to start is by consulting with your primary care physician. He or she will be able to provide a referral to a trustworthy psychiatrist. If you’d like to explore other options or simply do not like the idea of a drug-based solution, there are plenty of alternatives available to you. Registered psychologists possess a vast range of diagnostic and therapeutic skills they can use to help you. They can assess mental health problems and use many different techniques (including talk therapy, exercises, and activities) to help you change unwanted behaviors and habits. While a referral isn’t necessary to work with a psychologist, you will need to research your options and invest some effort in choosing the practitioner that’s right for you.
Help from a psychiatrist is often covered by your health insurance plan. This is less often the case for psychologists, obliging you to pay for their treatment out of your pocket. There are low-cost options for psychological care, but they can be difficult to access quickly.
Psychologist’s fees vary a great deal from practice to practice. It’s wise to determine your treatment budget before you spend too much time examining your options. Check your health insurance plan to see what kind of coverage, if any, you have for psychological treatment.
Don’t give up on finding a psychologist if you have limited financial resources! In some care systems (clinics and community centers, for instance), psychological services are provided on a sliding fee scale. This means costs are scaled to your income. Training clinics are another place where you can find affordable sliding-scale service. Don’t worry, students who provide treatment in training clinics are supervised by experienced professionals. Lee notes that what psychology students lack in experience is often made up for with extra motivation.
Picking a therapist is in many ways just like choosing any other sort of therapy provider. Lee says that personal style and comfort play a significant role in matching a specific patient to the right therapist. It is worth taking a little extra time to find a practitioner that makes you feel comfortable and cared for.
Always review and verify the credentials of prospective mental health professionals before you make any commitments. Lee warns that the bar to advertising oneself as a “therapist” is exceptionally low. You need to take the initiative in verifying a therapist’s credentials, education, and work history. Seek referrals by talking to family members, friends, doctors, and community organizations. Some counseling and healthcare organizations run client matching services to help you find the right psychologist to meet your needs.
After you’ve built a short list of potential therapists, it’s time to start reaching out to them. You should be able to learn a considerable amount about a psychologist with an exploratory phone call, and good therapists are almost always willing to answer any questions you might have. Most psychologists provide these initial phone calls free of charge. Consider this your chance to feel out a therapist’s style.
It’s smart to prepare a list of questions to ask each therapist you talk to. Key questions to ask include:
* How long does therapy for conditions like mine usually take?
* How much experience do you have in treating conditions like mine?
* If I become your patient, what sort of rights do I have?
Don’t be afraid to discuss the effectiveness of a psychologist’s treatment. Press for evidence. Lee says that all too many patients become uncritical and completely accepting once they’ve decided that their therapist is trustworthy.
Trust Your Instincts
Once you’ve collected all the pertinent information and spoken to the therapists on your shortlist, the final choice comes down to intuition and gut feeling. If a psychologist has all the right references and looks perfect on paper, but doesn’t feel right to you on the phone, that’s probably not the right therapist for you. Remember, developing a comfortable and trusting relationship with your therapist is a vital prerequisite to receiving effective treatment.