Searching For A Therapist? A Quick Therapist Finder Guide
By: Stephanie Kirby
Updated January 12, 2021
Medically Reviewed By: Lauren Fawley
Deciding to go to therapy is often not an easy decision, but it's one that can greatly impact your life for the better. Many people experience mental health challenges at some point in their life. And, even though mental challenges are very treatable, some people allow the stigma that surrounds mental health to stop them from getting the help that they need. So, you are doing the right thing by choosing to find a therapist.
When To See A Therapist
Mental health challenges do not look the same for each person. Even within the same diagnosis, each person can experience symptoms on different levels. This means there is no way of knowing the exact right time to see a therapist. The timing for you may be different than the timing for someone else who is dealing with a similar issue.
However, you can know it's a good time to seek help when you find that you are struggling with your mental health in your daily life. This could be that you are losing sleep because of anxiety, you struggle to go to work because of depression or substance use, or you are experiencing symptoms of a more serious and complex mental health disorder such as hearing voices or seeing things that aren't there.
Your symptoms and experience don't have to reach a certain level for you to qualify to get help from a therapist. Many people think that their problems aren’t serious enough, so they continue to deal with them on their own instead of seeking help. This isn't how it should be. If you are struggling with your mental health, then it's time to find a therapist and get the help that you need. Mental health challenges are very treatable, and some people can see results in only a few sessions.
The requirements that you look for in a therapist will depend on the type of therapy you’re seeking and the problems that you are working to address. For example, when you're looking at therapist education, there are many different options. For example, if you think that you're going to need medication to help deal with your mental health challenges, then you may want to see a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists are trained medical doctors that specialize in mental health. Because they have been through medical school, they can write prescriptions.
Now, on the other hand, many people see a psychologist for their therapy sessions, even though psychologists are not able to write prescriptions. Where a psychiatrist deals with the medical side of mental health such as the chemicals in your brain, a psychologist deals with the emotional side of mental health including your thought life.
Other mental health professionals called therapists generally are educated at the masters level and may have a degree in social work or counseling. They are educated and trained to provide talk therapy or psychotherapy.
The next requirement you're going to want to look for when choosing a therapist is their experience. The newest therapist will be working under the direction of a more experienced therapist, so just because someone is new does not necessarily mean that they will not be a good fit for you. You may want a therapist that has experience working with people with similar issues.
Some therapists focus and specialize in certain areas of mental health and with certain diagnoses. If you are struggling with anxiety and depression, you might not want to work with a therapist that specializes in marriage counseling, and vice versa.
Another thing that many people will want to consider when choosing a therapist is how much the sessions are going to cost them. If you have health insurance, there's a chance that your insurance company may provide coverage for mental health sessions. However, if they do, there are potential requirements to qualify, and it most likely will only cover a certain number of sessions. However, if you have health insurance, it's worth looking into to save money on your therapy sessions.
If your insurance does not cover mental health services, there are still other ways that you can save money on therapy sessions. The first is to look for a therapist that offers a sliding scale for payment. This means that the therapist will adjust the charge for your appointment based on your income level. Sliding scales make therapy sessions possible for some people who wouldn't be able to afford it otherwise.
When choosing a therapist, you are also going to want to consider their location. Some forms of therapy will have you going to appointments more than once a week. This means you are going to want to consider where the office is located and how easy or difficult it will be for you to get there.
For those people who do not want to have to attend therapy sessions in person, there are options for meeting with therapists online.
What If Therapy Doesn't Work?
If you participate in therapy and find that you are not seeing the results that you're looking for, it doesn't mean that therapy doesn't work. What it could mean is that you need to find a different therapist. To get the most you can out of your therapy sessions, it's important that you find a therapist that you are a good fit with. That means that you are comfortable with them and able to openly and honestly share your thoughts, emotions, and personal experiences.
If you find that you have gone to several therapy sessions and are yet to experience any type of breakthrough or positive change, then it might be time to start looking for a new person to meet with. Don't be afraid to ask your therapist questions about why you aren't experiencing any results. They may be able to work with you to alter your treatments and make changes that will help you to see changes faster. If not, find a new therapist.
What To Expect During Therapy Sessions
Your first therapy session will probably look different than your sessions after that. During the first therapy session, and even the first couple of sessions, your therapist is going to be getting to know you. They're going to ask you questions that will help them to identify why you were coming to see them and what you hope to get out of therapy. It will also help you get an idea of what mental health challenges you are struggling with. By doing this, your therapist can help you choose the best treatment plan for you.
If you have an idea from the media that your therapy session will involve you lying on the couch, with the therapist sitting next to you, rest assured that is not what therapy looks like. If you are doing online therapy, you have the freedom of being in your own home even. If you are in the therapist’s office, it is perfectly normal for you just to be sitting in a chair or on the couch. Most therapists try to set up their offices in a way that will create a comfortable environment for their patients.
How An Online Therapist Can Help
Research shows that online therapy is an effective method of treating different symptoms related to mental health. In one broad-based report, researchers examined the overall efficacy of online therapy interventions. They aggregated the results of over 90 studies, including almost 10,000 total participants, covering everything from panic disorders to smoking cessation. The study concluded that online therapy is as effective as traditional, in-person treatment, and that online cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is an especially useful modality. Online platforms are widely considered a more accessible way of providing therapy, as they eliminate many common barriers to treatment, including high costs, geographical and time constraints, and perceived stigma.
With online therapy through BetterHelp, you can connect with a licensed therapist from the comfort of your own home. Quickly make or modify your appointments so that you’re creating a schedule that works for you—no more coordinating with your therapist weeks or months ahead of time just to book a session. An online therapist can provide you with valuable guidance on the path to better mental health. Read below for reviews of BetterHelp therapists, from those who have sought help in the past.
“Vanessa offers so much more than any therapist I've ever worked with. She has pushed me to better myself and keeps me motivated all while keeping me in a safe place. She has always made my thoughts feel valid all while helping me process through them. Thank you Vanessa!”
“Absolutely brilliant! He helped me out of a pretty dark place and was nothing but helpful! For men who are looking for a counselor who understands what it is like to be a man in today's world with a family, with kids and responsibilities, job, etc, I was extremely impressed with his ability to get down to it and understand what I was talking about. He's great at getting to the root of the issue too. No need to slog through 8,000 words to find out what point he's trying to make. He has a knack for asking exactly the right question in about 2-3 sentences. If you're looking for a counselor who isn't the typical counselor, he's your guy!”
As you look for a therapist, and eventually start your therapy sessions, remember that the therapy process is about you. The purpose is to help you improve your mental health. This could mean eliminating your anxiety, helping you learn coping skills for your depression, or learning new communication skills to improve your relationships with others. Many goals can be accomplished through therapy. It's important when you start meeting with a therapist that you communicate clearly to them what your goals are for your sessions and what you hope to achieve from attending therapy. Remember, it's all about you.
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