Mental Health: Tips To Find The Perfect Professional For Your Needs

Finding the right mental health professional takes time. When most people are searching for a therapist or doctor, they tend to forget that they are finding someone to help them through very difficult and traumatic experiences in their lives.

Sometimes just hiring the first therapist that comes along can be a mistake and one that prevents healing that is necessary to a person’s well-being.

There are certain ways in which you can find a mental health professional that suits both your wants and needs. Mental health deserves our attention now more than ever, which means finding the right person to take that journey toward healing with is critical. Whether you’re just starting your search or don’t even know where to begin, here are a few important tips to consider when finding the perfect mental health professional.

Determine The Type of Professional You Need

There are different mental health professionals that can treat different things, so it is important to first look for one that will be able to help you. Different professionals will have specialties that they have studied extensively, which means that finding one that specializes in your area of need will be much more helpful. Different mental health professionals include:

  • Counselor – A counselor is a professional who has extensive study in psychotherapy and human development. He or she is able to assess addiction issues, trauma, as well as mental and emotional disorders.
  • Social worker – A social worker tends to look beyond just the patient and also consider outside factors into what may be contributing to the issues. Social workers have training which can help allow them to see the client and consider his or her environment within the scope of the problem.
  • Psychiatrist – A psychiatrist specializes in psychiatry, which includes prevention and study of mental disorders. Using a psychiatrist is helpful for people suffering from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, sociopathy or major depressive disorders.
  • Psychologist – The primary role of a psychologist is to use talk-based strategies for coping in order to help diagnose issues within a patient. In many cases, medication can be recommended in order to help a patient in ways that simple therapy cannot.

Related Article: Mental Health Counseling

Finding The Right Therapist Is Somewhat Like Dating

Before you start swiping right on therapists, think about it for a moment. When you are dating, you tend to be picky in who you are investing yourself in. You think about the long term. You consider whether or not this person is someone with whom you will be compatible with. You don’t want convenient. You don’t want to settle. Now apply those same rules to finding the right therapist. Don’t just settle on the first therapist to come along, or the one who looks great on paper. Sit down with them one-on-one and see if it will be a good match. Take note of what they contribute to the session, if they are listening well and interacting with what you’re saying. Are they paying close attention, or do they seem preoccupied? Is this someone with whom you can have a rapport with long term? These are all important questions to consider when finding a therapist.

Don’t Give Up If It Isn’t Right The First Time

Again, similar to dating, you do not need to settle. Perhaps you find a mental health professional that after session or two, seemed like the right fit. So you forged ahead, but over time you realize that it isn’t right for you. Guess what—that is entirely okay. There is no science to finding the perfect therapist and sometimes it can take months, even years to find the right fit. While that doesn’t mean you didn’t learn anything from other therapists, it just means that finding the perfect one takes time. Don’t worry if you committed to a therapist already, if it isn’t working then walk away. It won’t be right to waste your time and money if it just doesn’t feel right.

Ask Friends of Family For a Referral

Being in therapy is nothing to be ashamed about, and instead, should be something that you are proud of. You have taken the time to address certain issues within yourself and work toward a solution. Congratulations! Unfortunately, there is a stigma attached to mental health, which might prevent some people from asking friends and family for referrals in finding a good therapist. In truth, finding a trusted source who can recommend someone that works for him or her is a great place to begin. Remember, therapists are under strict confidentiality codes so no matter who referred you to them, your thoughts, discussions and sessions will all be protected.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions

There is nothing wrong with calling potential mental health professionals and asking a few questions before you consider seeing them for a session. In fact, it is highly encouraged. Rather than waste a trip to his or her office, conduct a quick interview via telephone or email in order to get a feel for how they will be. A few key questions to consider when conducting your interview include:

  • Where did he or she go to school?
  • What is his or her specialty?
  • Is he or she licensed?
  • What is his or her background?
  • What is his or her training?
  • Has he or she worked with others that have similar issues?
  • Has he or she ever been in therapy personally?

During the phone interview, make sure to assess how you feel while talking to them. While some might not be an immediate yes, try to see if you’re nervous, comfortable or what the overall chemistry is like. It is completely normal to feel awkward and uncomfortable at first, especially if this is your first time in therapy. At the very base of it all, you are two complete strangers speaking for the first time, so of course it won’t be an immediate connection right off the bat. However, focus on whether or not you can trust him or her and if this is a person you feel safe trusting long term.

Related Article: Why Mental Health Maintenance is Important

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