Finding a Mental Health Professional
Have you ever thought to yourself, “I just need to talk to someone,” turned to Google, and then realized there is too much information to search through so why even try to find someone?
I ask from experience! However, the path to emotional and psychological freedom does not have to be convoluted and burdensome, but instead thoughtful and intuitive.
Check out the following steps to help you find the helping professional that is right for you:
- Identify the issues you are seeking help for.
- Are you struggling with depression or anxiety, childhood traumas, transitional phases of life, relationship issues, ext? Knowing what issues you are seeking counsel for will help with narrowing down the professionals with specialization in those areas.
- Distinguish helping styles based on professional titles.
- When you start your search to find the right mental health professional, you will come across different titles with different education requirements and different cost for services.
- Psychiatrists have doctoral degrees and focus on prescribing and monitoring medication; Psychologists have doctoral degrees and typically focus on testing and assessments; Masters-level professionals include Professional Counselors (LPC), Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) which focus on personal relationship development to evaluate one’s mental health and facilitate therapeutic growth; Pastoral Counselors are typically associated with a particular faith and have a masters-level education or higher.
- Rates per session will range from pro bono/sliding scale based on need to the typical range of $60-120, but could be as high as $200.
- Understand what modalities to therapy resonate with you.
- There are a great variety of modalities and specialties that a mental health professional could choose to operate with.
- Evidence-based treatments which have yielded positive outcomes include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Interpersonal Therapy, Exposure Therapy, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
- Supported by positive outcome, but not considered evidence based, therapies include Patient-Centered Therapy, Solution-Focused Therapy, Eclectic Therapy, and Narrative Therapy
- Find a Mental Health Professional.
- The best option is to ask for referrals from family or friends who have had good experiences with mental health professionals.
- The next best option is an internet search and Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us) can come in handy by using the filter options after you’ve worked through steps 1-3.
- Write down 3-5 people whose profiles or websites appealed to you and reach out for a free consultation.
- Ask questions and heed red flags.
- When you attend the initial session/free consultation, be prepared with questions because you are basically interviewing someone to be the confidant of personal and intimate details of your life! How would they approach your issues? Have they dealt with your particular issues before? Why did they choose mental health as their profession? Have they themselves gone through mental health counseling?
- If there is anything in the mental health professionals demeanor or response style or behaviors while interacting with you, heed these red flags and move on to the next option on the list your wrote down!
- The relationship is key.
- Some mental health professionals will die on the hill that the specialty or technique that they’ve spent time and money on learning is the absolute based way to help people heal. However, if you and the mental health specialist of your choosing hit it off and converse authentically and you feel safe with what you are needing to share and supported in your efforts to overcome, you will see positive outcomes because the therapeutic relationship is the ultimate foundation for positive change!