8 Tips For Finding A Therapist For Anxiety
By: Stephanie Kirby
Updated March 04, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Guilbeault
Imagine what life would be like if you didn't have to worry about anxiety. At night when you laid down to go to sleep, your mind was at peace, and you were able to sleep all night through. When you woke up in the morning, your mind wasn't racing with all your worrying thoughts. Your body felt relaxed, and all the tension from your shoulders is missing. Wouldn't that be nice?
If you deal with anxiety, this might seem like a far-off reality. However, anxiety is a very treatable mental health challenge. If you are experiencing high levels of anxiety, then exploring your therapy options is a good place to start your journey to recovery.
- Do Your Research
Not all therapists are the same, even if they are licensed and regardless of their training. Two therapists could go to the same school at the same time, have all the same training, and still provide two very different experiences. That's why you have to do your research to find out which therapist you want to work with.
You will also want to research what type of therapy you want to try. Most people think of therapy sessions as lying on a couch and pouring out your memories and emotions to a therapist, but this isn't the case. Some forms of therapy involve talking one-on-one with a therapist, but there are also other options of therapy to help treat your anxiety which you can learn about below
- Look At Their Credentials
When looking for a therapist, you want to make sure that you understand what credentials the therapist holds. Many different people call themselves therapists. Many different letters might follow someone's name. These letters indicate what type of degree or training the therapist has.
- MD - A psychiatrist. These professionals have attended medical school and can write prescriptions. They often collaborate with psychologists that provide the therapy part of the session.
- Ph.D., PsyD, EdD = Individuals with these letters have received a Doctor of Psychology. Many therapists with these credentials are researching the field of mental health.
- MA, MS, LGPC, LCPC - These initials show that a person has received a Master of Psychology. If they have the L in their credentials, it means that they have become licensed in the field as well. They may have other credentials along with these if they have completed specialized training in a certain area of study.
- MSW, LCSW, LCSW-C, LGSW, LSW = The exact letters involve could be slightly different, but it will always include the SW. This stands for a Social Worker. These therapists have a masters degree in the field of social work.
- MA, MFT, LFMT, LCMFT = These letters show that an individual has a Marriage and Family Therapist. Those with an L are licensed while those without the L still have their Master's degree in the field of Marriage and Family Therapy.
- MA, CCPT, CpastC, NCPC, NCCA = These are the letters that you will see for a pastoral counselor. This shows that the pastor has received training in the field of counseling. This is not the typical counseling that people receive in a church. These individuals are trained and experienced in different forms of therapy.
- MHC, LMHC = These letters are for an individual who has a master's degree in mental health counseling. Those with an L are licensed while those who are an MHC are working toward licensure under a limited permit. Mental health counselors and social workers receive similar training in their master's program. The main difference between a SW and MHC is that social workers typically assist in accessing social services in addition to counseling.
- Ask About Their Experience
Being licensed and trained in an area is not the same as having experience. Just like any profession, the more experience a therapist has, the more comfortable they are in their work. They will have the experience to know what works for them and what doesn't work as well. They will have had a chance to perfect their skills and develop their strategies.
If you can find out what type of experience, they have you will also know if they are familiar with working with individuals with anxiety. You can check their online reviews to see if other people have had good experiences.
- Check Your Insurance
As society starts to take mental health more seriously, more insurance companies are starting to offer coverage for services like therapy. Before you find a therapist look to see if your health insurance offers any type of coverage. If so, you will want to find a therapist that will qualify for coverage.
- Look For Pricing Options
If you don't have coverage through your insurance company, then you can still save money by finding a therapist for anxiety that offers a sliding scale. This means that you could receive a discounted price on your counseling based on your income level.
- Meeting Options
Some therapists only meet with patients in person. Then, there are some that also offer therapy through phone calls, emails, texting, or video chat. When you are dealing with high levels of anxiety, you may be more comfortable with some options over others. You can compare the options between in-person and online sessions to see what you are the most comfortable with.
- Ask Questions
The simplest and easiest way to find out if a counselor is right for you is just to start asking questions. You can start by asking them if they work with people with anxiety. Then feel free to ask them any other questions that will help you to feel more comfortable working together. This is a great way to see if they are a good fit for you. The more comfortable you are with the therapist, the more effective your sessions can be.
- Ask For Recommendations
If you know others that have worked with a therapist to learn how to handle their anxiety you can ask for recommendations. It can help to know that someone else has had a good experience with them and can help you to trust the therapist a little easier. However, even if you know someone that has used a certain therapist, you still want to interview the therapist yourself. Just because they were a good fit for someone else, does not mean that they are going to be a good fit for you automatically.
What If It's Not A Good Fit?
If you choose a therapist, start sessions, and then realize that it's not a great fit, don't be afraid to change. Just because you start the process with one therapist doesn't mean that you need to stick with them. If you are uncomfortable in any way, it's better to find a new therapist than to force yourself to push through sessions with someone that you don't want to be working with.
Types Of Therapy For Anxiety
EMDR Therapy For Anxiety
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It's a type of therapy that uses hand tapping, eye movement, and audio stimulation to help people unblock and process through emotions that have been locked away. It helps people to start to work through past pain and learn new ways of coping with fear and trauma.
The therapy was originally developed to use with people that were struggling with past trauma, but it's been proven effective with anxiety and other mental health challenges as well.
Social Anxiety Group Therapy
If you struggle with social anxiety, there are many different forms of therapy. One option is meeting for group therapy. This is often cheaper than meeting one-on-one with a therapist. It's also helpful because you are meeting with a group of other individuals that know exactly what you are going through. The group can learn together and practice new skills to help overcome anxiety.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Anxiety
Cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT is a common form of therapy that is used for anxiety. It works by helping patients learn to identify their negative thought patterns and the impact that it's making on their life. Then it teaches them how to identify and replace those thought patterns with better thoughts.
This form of therapy is used to show patients how their stress and anxiety impacts their physical body. During sessions, the patient is hooked up to sensors that show them what's going on with things like their heart rate, breathing, and more. This allows them to visually see what their stress and anxiety look like in their body. As they watch the results of the sensors they can see as things improve when they use techniques to lower their stress and relax, This process helps them learn how to calm themselves when they are starting to feel anxious.
There Is Help For Anxiety
Don't continue to suffer silently with anxiety when there is plenty of help available. Don't be afraid to try a few different forms of therapy to see what works the best for you. Many people find that a combination of therapies along with practicing alternative options such as meditation and self-care works the best for them. Sometimes finding the right solution involves trial and error. Just whatever you do, don't give up and keep going until you have learned how to cope with and overcome anxiety.