How to Choose a Therapist
It’s been my experience that most people come to therapy because they are “stuck” in something. Maybe it’s a negative thinking pattern, anxiety loop, a toxic relationship, or self-doubt. You have made the first step by finding this website. It can be discouraging when trying to find a therapist and realizing there are so many choices. It can seem overwhelming. This information provides principles to help you choose the kind of professional you need for your situation.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who continued their training after medical school and residency to specialize in mental health. Psychiatrists can prescribe mental health drugs. They can also make a diagnosis that becomes part of the patient’s medical records. For example, only a psychiatrist can diagnose and treat schizophrenia. Typically, psychiatrists don’t engage patients in talk therapy, as it would be cost ineffective for both the doctor and the patient. Usually, the patient will be referred to someone lower on the list if talk therapy is advised.
Clinical Psychologists typically have doctorates of education, which is a Ph.D. designation. This person has earned the distinction of being called Dr. but is not a medical doctor. Therefore, psychologists don’t prescribe medicine, but they can make a DSM diagnosis. (DSM stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It’s the book we all use to figure out what’s the most likely cause of a problem) For example, a clinical psychologist might diagnose a patient with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and would see that patient in sessions for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), but would send the patient to a psychiatrist for medication, if she felt it was needed (sometimes it is not).
Therapists have several different distinctions. Anyone with a MA in a related field might call themselves a psychotherapist, depending on the licensing laws in their state. Always ask any potential therapist about their license. I am credentialed at an LMFT. The most common titles for psychotherapists are: Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT), Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), and Licensed Social Worker (LSW). If you see someone with MA alone after their name, it could mean that this person has only a master’s degree in a related field and you may need to beware. It could mean that the person has not been trained as a therapist and is not licensed. Therapists don’t prescribe medication but, can make limited diagnoses.
Many people will be best suited to work with a therapist. We are highly trained to help change behavior patterns so that people can reach their highest potential. Research shows that even when it is determined that clients need medicines, the best outcome is with a therapist, such as myself, working in conjunction with a psychiatrist or a general practitioner. Medicine alone is usually not the answer. The work, the real work, the permanent work happens in therapy.
How concerned should I be with what kind of therapy is practiced? What if the therapist isn’t familiar with my problem?
There are as many different types of therapy, as there are therapists. Therapists are like musicians. I may be drawn to a certain genre of music, but we’re all trained in the structure of music, reading notes, and understanding time and tempo. We may have different ways of helping our clients get unstuck, but we all want the same goal in the end. Contact me and I will tell you honestly if I can help, and if not I will refer you to someone who can. Research tells us time and time again that the number one indicator of improvement is not the type of therapy practiced, but the relationship between the therapist and client, followed by the client’s motivation for change.
I have good friends and family to talk to about my problems, but it doesn’t help. Why would therapy be any different?
There’s a fundamental difference between a therapist and a friend. Friends are wonderful resources! Unlike family, you get to choose your friends. However, friends and family can’t always help because they aren’t objective. And sometimes, our loved ones can even make the situation worse. A qualified therapist has correct information concerning best treatment; we are trained to ask the right questions at the right time to help our clients develop insight and correct thinking gone wrong. The relationship between therapists is by definition different than any other relationship. It’s built on the idea of a blank slate, or strident objectivity.
It’s been my experience that most people come to therapy because they are “stuck” in something. Maybe it’s a negative thinking pattern, anxiety loops, a toxic relationship, or self-doubt. You have made the first step by finding this website.
Contact me today to set change in motion.