Finally ! People are beginning to talk about how important it is to find and have a therapist. You may still be wondering if you even need a therapist. Having a therapist has previously been something that many would never talk about. There have been a variety of stereotypes and stigmas attached to mental health. Overtime, many celebs have come out about seeing a therapist on a regular basis. I think it’s pretty cool. It just how much you care about making some improvements in your life. It also shows that you are brave and wise enough to ask for help. I mean why go through challenges why go through them alone if you don’t have to. Keep in mind that seeing a therapist is something that you are doing for yourself. It does not have to be something that you broadcast to the many. Other things to be mindful of is that it does not have to be a life long situation. In fact there are forms of therapy that can be short-term. Just think of learning new, insight,ways of thinking, and ways to cope in 4-6 weeks. Everybody of course has a different situation so your challenges me need a little more time or less. Your therapist will be sure to work with you on potential time lines.
Let’s talk about how you can actually tell if you should see a therapist. Now for starters …. Don’t get the idea in your head that the first therapist you see will be a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, finding the right therapist and treatment isn’t always easy peasy. It can be a task itself, especially if you are at a low point at the time of searching. You might google “psychotherapy” ( psychotherapy simply means “talk therapy” not that your a serial killer) and you might instantly become confused at the fact you see a ton of Acronyms like CBT or Cognitive behavioral therapy, or DBT Dialectical Behavioral therapy, and maybe ACT amongst a million others. The first thing is to not get overwhelmed. Once you start searching for a therapist you will learn more about the various schools of thoughts and treatment modalities. Now you’re thinking well I don’t even know what’s wrong with me why am I even looking for a therapist! This is all the more reason why you want to take your time and scope out the right one for you. If you don’t do enough research then a few things may happen. You may go in for a session, start telling all and answering questions that you have not answered in years, then find yourself not really liking the therapist at all. You might even try going to quite a few other therapists and repeating the same steps. Then BOOM! your belief of the therapeutic process is tarnished. We don’t want that to happen. I feel that the therapeutic relationship is something powerful and life changing. A few things to consider when searching for a therapist.
Many people want to see a therapist that looks like them. Meaning they want someone of the same race because they believe that they may be able to relate to many things. I am not saying that having a therapist from a different background wouldn’t understand you… but it really is all about compatibility and rapport building. It is about finding someone that you can connect with. This can be true in most instances. Yet, do keep in mind that if someone has a history of drug abuse, and the therapist you selected did not experience drug abuse does not mean that they can’t help you. Keep an opinion in mind, and although race shouldn’t be the biggest factor I know that sometimes it can have an impact in the decision making process of the person you select.
Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, encompassing language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts. Why should culture play a role in your decision making process? Because you may find someone who connects with you at a deeper level than just agreeing on a worldview. Do you desire a therapist who has a religious based beliefs, Are they a part of the LGBT community, do they have interest in Art therapy? There are plenty of therapists who self-disclose in aids of finding their ideal clients. Also, not that many therapists do not self-disclose, and all should be qualified to assist you either way.
Specialty types of the therapist–
We mentioned earlier about the different acronyms so let’s dig a little deeper. Many therapists have a modality preference that they specialize in. This means that if you choose a particular therapist they may be treating you with that modality. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is very common in the therapy world. CBT is a short-term therapy technique that can help people find new ways to behave by changing their thought patterns. Dialectical behavioral therapy ( DBT is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy) DBT is often used to treat suicidal and other self-destructive behaviors. Another therapist may specialize in anger, abuse, or trauma. There are tons of specialities out there. If a therapist specializes in one it does not mean they are only limited to use that modality. It just means that their preference is the said modality and they tend to use what they feel will give the best results, and their comfort level of that modality. Some therapists, like myself, prefer to use several different types.
Discipline of therapist-
So, there are several different types of therapist. You can see a Psychiatrist which generally only prescribes medication. Although they may do assessments they do not do therapy. You can also see a Psychologist. A psychologist in most states cannot prescribe medication but is authorized to do therapy.
You can see a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist which are a mental health professional trained in psychotherapy and family systems, and licensed to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders within the context of marriage, couples and family systems. I also have many colleagues who are MFT who specializes and a wide range from drug addictions to working with children. So, they are not limited to just working with the family.
You can also see a Licensed Professional Counselor. Licensed professional counselors are master’s degree mental health service providers, trained to work with individuals, families, and groups in treating mental, behavioral, and emotional problems and disorders. You may find that many LPC work in the school system or with military families but are not limited to. You can see Licensed Clinical Social Worker or LCSW, LCSW is a sub-sector within the field of Social Work. LCSW works with clients in order to help deal with issues involving mental and emotional health. You may find many LCSWs at hospitals and clinics however they often have private practices where they provide therapy. All disciplines vary from state to state but must all have a masters degree or above in order to practice. Last but not least you can see a Life Coach. There is no current governing body that requires a life coach to have a certain level of education or license. Life coaches do not provide therapy and are not allowed to treat. However, they can serve as a support system for you and serve as a guide.
Price and insurance coverage- Many employers have EAP services (Employee Assistance Programs) that will cover up to a certain amount of therapy sessions. Call your employer to see if you have this coverage. You can also see how many sessions are covered in your actual plans. In most cases patients may need to get an extension for their services. Thi is why it is so important to maximize your sessions by sharing and participating because if your employer only authorizes 12 sessions you may be upset because you can see yourself benefiting and feel that you did not have enough time. You could always pay out of pocket. Just in case something like this happens be sure to find out the rate the therapist charges prior to the onset of therapy to see if you will be able to afford it.