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A Guide to Finding the Right Therapist for Your Mental Well-Being

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Therapy is not a “one size fits all” type of treatment.

In the world of therapy, you will find that there are a number of different types of therapists and it is essential to find the right therapist that can meet your unique needs. When looking for a therapist, it is important to understand how seeing someone you feel is aligned with the goals you have for your therapy sessions will have a lasting impact on the quality of your treatment. A therapist that specializes in the issue that you are experiencing, such as grief counseling, is optimal to get the results that you want out of your therapy sessions.

Unfortunately, there has been a long-standing stigma around therapy as something that is only done by people who have a mental illness, which has prevented many from seeking the help that they need.

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However, it is uncommon knowledge that mental illnesses are not treated, nor diagnosed by a therapist. Therapists are not medical doctors who are licensed to treat or diagnose mental illnesses. When a therapist is attached to a doctor’s office in terms of a recognizable comparison, they can be looked at as playing the role of a nurse when it comes to mental well-being. There is a huge difference between therapeutic care and psychiatric care, and this difference is often misunderstood by those unfamiliar with mental health care.

If a therapist suspects a mental illness in one of their patients, they will refer them to a psychiatrist who will put together a treatment plan and prescribe medication if they deem it necessary.  

From there on the patient will see therapists that work with the doctor under a more structured program that is often more rigorous than the care one can expect with a private practice therapist. The patient will also see their psychiatrist on a regular basis as part of this treatment plan.

Now that we have dismantled the stigma around therapy, let’s get down to business!

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Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing a Therapist

A key element of therapy is finding the right match between the patient and the therapist. Keeping in mind that therapy can be a lot of work, and sometimes painful, finding the right person to guide you through the healing process can be quite powerful. The benefits of therapy can also be life-changing and rewarding.

Choosing a therapist is a complex process. What are the steps?

1.  Make an appointment with your general practitioner to rule out any possible medical causes for your symptoms. Psychological symptoms can often be confused with physical ones and vice versa.  

A prime example of this was my husband spent years in therapy trying to diagnose unexplained behaviors and tendencies.  

As time went on unexplainable physical symptoms began to develop prompting his therapist to become concerned something much more dire was happening.  In the end, he never needed therapy, but treatment for a brain tumor.  

Don’t worry, he survived and all is well now!  But it is essential to see your doctor and get a thorough exam if you develop ongoing symptoms which you are unable to explain.

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2.   If you are not in a country that provides free mental health care, such as the UK does, and you have not been able to access charitable or support groups, find out what mental health coverage is available in other ways, for example, privately. You may need to consult your medical insurance if you hold it.

3.  Get two or three referrals before making an appointment. Specify age, sex, race, or religious background if those characteristics are important to you. 

4. Call to find out about appointment availability, location, and fees. Find out if they take your insurance, or if they charge by income.

5. Make sure the therapist has experience helping people whose problems are similar to yours. Don’t be afraid to ask about their experience and qualifications.

6. If you are satisfied with the answers, make an appointment. 

7. During your first visit, describe the feelings and problems that led you to seek help. Pay attention to how your therapist reacts and what options you are given for treatment. Do you feel comfortable with your choices? Are you able to express yourself freely? Do you feel safe?

8. If seeing a psychotherapist, make sure they do not take a “cookie-cutter” or ”one size fits all” approach to your treatment – different psychotherapies and medications are tailored to meet specific needs. You are an individual and your therapist must show that perspective.

9. After your initial visit, take some time to explore how you felt about the therapist. Is there a connection? Do you still feel comfortable or has anything changed?

10.  If everything meets your approval, schedule your next appointment.  If not, go back to the list you gathered in Step 3 and start over again.

Finding the best therapist to meet your needs is a sure-fire way to gain the success you are looking to achieve as a result of going to therapy.

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Written by Daily Regimens

We are the virtual wellness and accountability coach team here at Daily Regimens!

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