Admitting the need for help can be challenging but with over 41.4 million US adults seeing a therapist yearly, reaching out to a mental health professional is courageous. If you're considering finding the right therapist, factors such as licensed therapists, therapy approach, patient provider therapeutic alliance, and mental health services should be considered to ensure they align with your preferences.
Consider The Different Forms Of Counseling
In modern psychology, there are many therapists practicing various therapy modalities including individual, couples, family, or group therapy sessions. Exploring options within community mental health clinics and considering factors like emotional health and specialized training can help you make an informed decision on your care.
When deciding on a type of therapy, consider your mental health condition, symptoms, prior diagnoses, goals for treatment, and approach to talk therapy. Research therapy methods and discuss them with potential mental health professionals like clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists or a licensed professional counselor.
Therapy can help people enhance their emotional health, well-being, and overall quality of life.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Exposure and response prevention (ERP)
- Interpersonal counseling (IPC)
- Grief therapy
- Art therapy
- Equine or animal-assisted therapy
- Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing Therapy (EMDR)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Radically open dialectical behavior therapy (RO-DBT)
- Gestalt therapy
- Support groups
At your initial appointment, a good therapist may ask you about your goals, symptoms, and concerns for treatment. Inquire about their treatment approach, experience, training, and licensing. Discuss your insurance company and insurance plan to determine your coverage for counseling services.
If you're uncomfortable with a particular form of therapy, let them know and consider asking about another. You might find a therapist specializing in a specific type of therapy by searching mental health organizations or psychology department listings in your area.
Think About Your Ideal Therapist
Before starting your search, come up with a list of traits you'd like your ideal counselor to have. You might ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you looking for a "tough love" approach, or a compassionate, validation-based therapist?
- What therapy modalities are you interested in trying?
- Do you prefer a therapist of a specific gender?
- Do you prefer a therapist of a certain race?
- Do you prefer a therapist of a particular LGBTQ+ identity?
- Do you prefer a therapist of a specific religious or spiritual background?
- Would you prefer a long-term or short-term form of treatment?
- Do you want to meet in person or remotely?
- Are you looking for a specific specialization?
- What are your goals for therapy, and how might a therapist meet them?
It may also be valuable to note whether you'd like to attend individual therapy, group therapy, couples therapy, or family therapy. In individual therapy, a therapist can focus on you, your family systems, interpersonal relationships, past experiences, and current situations. Couples therapy might focus more on how you and your partner interact and how your personalities come together.
Seek To Understand Therapy Modalities
Below are further descriptions of popular therapy modalities a therapist might use. Keeping these in mind can help you make your decision when searching for a potential therapist.
One of the most historical forms of treatment is psychoanalysis, a process of individual treatment focusing on uncovering unconscious thoughts or feelings that may be affecting an individual. The therapist may prompt the client to discuss anything that comes to mind and offer advice or analysis based on what is said. These techniques are often based on the premise that what you think, feel, and experience are interrelated. Thus, interventions may be made to help you change these processes. Often, psychoanalysis and other types of therapy provide an empathetic, client-centered relationship and a process that facilitates your overall improvement.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by counseling services or are looking for short-term treatment, you may benefit from a type of therapy like CBT or a structured form of therapy like DBT. Busy professionals, or those starting therapy for the first time, may prefer short-term therapy for immediate concerns. Long-term treatment may involve a dedicated effort to achieve more profound and lasting results. Once you enter therapy, evaluate the process as you go. You can let your therapist know if you want to change their chosen approach or would prefer to stay for more sessions.
Finding A Counselor
Once you understand the type of therapy you want to try, the type of counselor you'd like to meet, and your availability, consider starting a search with your health insurance provider. They may offer you a list of life counseling services covered and any approved counselors you can reach out to under your plan.
You may also get a referral from a primary care provider or doctor. Additionally, you could perform a broad online search to discover mental health programs community resources, and national associations like the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Often, people use the internet to find resources, and several websites may list therapists within your area who can prescribe medications if necessary.
Alternative Counseling Options
Although you may be able to find a counselor in your area, if you face barriers to treatment or specific concerns about the process, you might feel hesitant to meet with a provider. In these cases, online therapy could be a cost-effective, flexible, and reachable option. Often, online therapy offers users the option to meet with a therapist through phone, video, or live chat sessions. Additionally, you can meet with a counselor from home, cutting out your commute time or costs for travel.
One study on internet-based CBT (I-CBT) found that short-term CBT sessions with clients experiencing anxiety disorders, eating disorders, and long-term stress were effective in reducing prolonged stress-related symptoms and increasing quality of life. You might also see a reduction in stress by cutting out the barriers to in-person treatment that many individuals experience.
If you're interested in talking to a counselor on a personal device, from any location with an internet connection, consider signing up for a platform like BetterHelp, which offers a wide variety of professional counselors specializing in various treatment modalities and areas of focus.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are a few frequently asked questions about finding a counselor.
What Can My Counselor Help Me With?
Working with a counselor may benefit individuals experiencing many emotional or mental health challenges. Some individuals may pursue counseling for support in navigating a challenging period of grief or loss, relational difficulties, or healing after trauma. Others may seek counseling to manage mental health conditions such as anxiety, depression, or eating disorders.
How Much Is A Typical Counseling Session?
The cost of counseling can vary. Forbes reports that the average cost per session in the US is around $100 to $200. Many health insurance providers offer high-quality coverage, where therapy may be covered entirely or paid through a co-pay value. Check with your insurance provider to see if counseling is covered through your plan. If not, you might find that online therapy is a cheaper alternative.
What Can I Expect From A Counseling Session?
Your first counseling session may differ from future visits because the first visit is a chance for you and your therapist to get to know each other and discuss your goals for treatment. Future visits may be more therapeutic, and you may explore a specific symptom or concern mentioned in the initial session.
What Is The Difference Between Therapy And Counseling?
"Therapy" is often used as a catch-all term for all types of counseling or mental health sessions with a licensed mental health provider like a counselor, social worker, or psychologist. In some cases, counseling may refer to sessions offered by someone with the "counselor" title, like a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC).
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What are the 6 principles of counseling?
What are the 5 stages of a counseling session?
What is the best quality of a good counselor?
What is the most effective Counselling approach?
How do you know if a counselor is right for you?
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