So, you’ve been reading a bunch of things online and taking these tests. Now, you’re sure that there is something wrong, maybe you don’t know exactly what’s wrong, or you haven’t been able to pinpoint it. Point is– you need to find someone. You’ve finally decided that you need to take that first step and speak to someone about your issues, but you don’t know how to go about finding someone.
To find a therapist, it requires a little bit of time, patience, and some research. From Ph.D. to PsyD to LPC and MD, there are so many things that get tacked on to the name of mental health physicians that it can be a bit overwhelming knowing which one to choose. Knowing this, it may be a bit of an annoying task to undertake, but you’ll be better off for it if you take the time now rather than later.
This is a shorter article as this is apart of my mini-series, meant to give you something short to read during the week before the main article on Fridays! I hope you enjoy and gain some insight!
Author Note: This article was made in partnership with Better Help. 🙂 Again, this in no way compromises the integrity of my content, as mental health and all adjacent content means a great deal to me. I understand the fragility of the subject and I don’t want to play with a person’s health by breaking something as important as trust. I feel this is important to mention because I want there to be full transparency when I make these articles.
Better Help is a website that I truly believe in when it comes to online therapy. They’ve helped me out a lot and even went above and beyond when I needed help with paying for their service. They work with you and on your schedule. So, I’m very happy to work with them and I do really hope you will try them out! They have a risk-free trial of 7-days that you’re welcome to try out in case you’re shaky on the idea.
When you find a good therapist, they will be patient, empathetic, accepting, non-judgmental and a good listener. Anyone else will not be conducive to your healing as it will create unnecessary friction and apprehension. You want to be comfortable (but not overly so). You want to feel like your health is their number one priority and like they genuinely care.
In order to find out this last component, you’ll need to be able to visit with them and get to know them, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Challenges in Finding a Therapist
So, now that we’ve gone through a few of these abbreviations and who’s able to practice and who isn’t. Let’s see a few of the challenges you may face when trying to find some help.
Firstly, the stigma. It may be hard coming out to friends and family to let them know that you’re in therapy or to let them know that you want to start. Mental health isn’t as accepted as it ought to be and there is some weird idea that people have about therapy that’s just absurd and ridiculous.
Just so you know, it’s OK to need help with… getting your head on straight. There is no shame in trying to help yourself to be the best you. The outcome of this is way too important to let people’s opinions of you stop you. Of course, you don’t need to tell anyone you’re doing anything to begin with. It’s not like people are owed this type of information anyway.
Secondly– availability. You may have trouble with money, insurance (or lack thereof), or just physical availability– there may be no facilities or facilities that are really full or have long wait times; like community-aimed therapy. There may be no therapists in your area that even specialize in the area that you need the most help in.
But there are things that you can do to figure this one out.
Start getting some names and recommendations. Call around, read reviews online of particular therapists that you’re interested in, get some recommendations from people around you. Call your local university’s psychology department and ask them for some recommendations. While you do this, don’t forget to start looking at their education, experience, licensing, and years of practice.
For more information on this, visit this article that inspired this one on the Better Help website. 🙂
Of course, there is also online therapy– my favorite option. It’s a new, easy, and convenient way of finding a professional to talk to you based on your schedule. You’ll literally just pick up your phone and start messaging them when you need to talk and they’ll respond to you as soon as they can. And it costs a hell of a lot less money, which makes it a more suitable option for low-income individuals.
There are two places that I know of, one of which is, as you know, Better Help. I have extensive experience with and am comfortable with them. But, I also know about Talk Space, which has been advertised as a similar thing to Better Help, but I have no experience with them other than hearing their name. I’m sure there are other options, but these are the two that I am the most familiar with and comfortable suggesting.
There are different types of psychology majors that you can find at each level with differing levels of practicing ability. For example, the ones with a 4-year degree won’t be able to do as much as someone with an 8-year degree, training, and a license. As such, anything lower than a Master’s Degree we’ll ignore, as most of the time they aren’t sufficiently trained to be able to practice in the capacity that you need.
I’ll list a few types of abbreviations for some relevant jobs in this field. For a complete list, take a look at this page on Wikipedia. As well as this incredibly informative article on BestCounselingDegree.net.
- Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs): Licensing requirements vary by state, but LCSWs hold graduate degrees and typically have at least two years of clinical social work experience. LCSWs may provide individual, family, or couples therapy. They often work in schools, public health and medical fields, or other community and group settings. (goodtherapy.com)
- Licensed Addiction Counselors (LACs): LACs are not typically referred to as therapists, but they may practice alongside therapists. Typically, LACs have a bachelor’s degree and will have a minimum of one year of training in addiction counseling. (goodtherapy.com)
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs): LMFTs, who focus primarily on marriage and family therapy, will have a master’s degree and typically must complete an internship before practicing. (goodtherapy.com)
- Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC or LPC depending on the state) – Master’s in Counseling and/or Psychology, plus supervised experience (wikipedia.org)
- Board Certified Psychologist (ABPP) • The ABPP certification process includes a credentials review, peer-reviewed practice samples, oral examination and depending on the psychology specialty a written examination. (bestcounselingdegrees.net)
There are two that I want to provide a bit more information on as they may be unclear for a few people.
A social worker works on improving society as a whole. They link their clients to external resources to assist them in finding success in their lives; as well as educating and teaching them new skills. They are more of a community resource than an individual resource.
A clinical counselor is a person dedicated to assessing, diagnosing, and treating your mental illness in a personal and individualized setting. They are the people that you would typically think of when you think of a therapist.
Also, just because they have a ton of experience or none at all, doesn’t mean that you can ascertain what kind of therapist they’ll be. The same thing goes for academic and professional credentials; it does not mean that they are the right one for you or that they are even good. It is important to take time to do the next step so that you can make sure that you get the best experience possible.
Great! You’ve found a few people that you’re interested in, now it’s time to set up an appointment and start getting familiar with them. In order to assess your therapist and ensure that they are the one for you, you need to have a few questions in mind when you visit them. Here are a few from WebMD:
Can I afford this? You need to be able to show up regularly. If you can’t, the effects of therapy may be diminished.
Do I feel OK with this person? Do you feel comfortable opening up to them without fear of judgment?
Is my therapist listening to me? Do I feel heard? Are they asking questions about me? When you first come into contact with your therapist, they should be trying to get acquainted with you by asking questions. But you should also feel like you don’t have to constantly repeat things to them because they are listening and paying undivided attention to you.
Has my therapist helped me to identify a goal?– If you can’t identify what you want to get out of therapy, you’re going to struggle to get the results.
Do I feel like what they’re saying makes sense to me? Are they addressing what I want help with? The success of therapy entirely depends on your ability to follow through with treatment. If you’re not going to follow any of what they say because it doesn’t make sense to you, then you need to find another one. Alternatively, if you’re not getting the help in the area you need, it’s time to dip.
If the answer to most of these questions is a ‘no’, then you make want to consider chucking the deuces up and saying:
I know I keep bringing this up, but I think it’s important to get this point across. Traditional brick and mortar therapy is expensive and in my experience a real fucking pain to deal with. Trying to find insurance that will allow you to go to a particular doctor. Paying for each individual session. Trying to fit appointments into your schedule or going to an appointment that you don’t really want or need to go to. It’s way too much of a hassle for me. And judging by the internet and the questions I see, I’d imagine it was annoying for other people, too.
But it doesn’t have to be. At all.
Have a look at BetterHelp’s therapy section.
Peruse through their library of topics relating to different types of therapy and in what situations they are used for. Some of their most popular articles talk about the stages of grief, councilor vs. counselor, and reasons to choose an online psychiatrist. There are over 20 categories– e.g., abuse, body dysmorphic disorder, depression, and more– found on the right side that can direct you exactly where you want to go without the fuss.
Once you gain a full understanding of the myriad of things you can talk to an online therapist about, perhaps you’ll be more willing– if you aren’t already– to consider therapy.
I have made it a point in my life to emphasize online therapy because it is so convenient, easy, and cheap. It makes almost all of the problems that we’ve discussed completely irrelevant. The only thing that you’ll have to figure out is how to pay for it (a one-time payment for the whole month) and which doctor you like the best. And when it comes to mental illness in particular, making the process as easy as possible to get into is especially important. Those few moments of motivation and hope are a critical time where things can be done and acted upon. And if you can’t do it right now, then you’ll know for the future when you can afford it.
At this point, or rather when you get inside of the therapist’s office, you won’t really need my help from there. But for those who are interested in doing online therapy, next week in this mini-series I’ll show you how to start online therapy. I’ll look and see what different options there are for doing that and how to make that transition easy for you.
I hope this was helpful for you guys and makes you more willing to try out therapy. I know traditional therapy sessions may be a rigorous task with all that you have to do in order to start, much less maintain. But it’s a necessary evil, I think.
Peace and peace,