• April Choosing a Therapist

    A Therapist’s Advice on Choosing a Therapist

    Reaching out for help on mental health challenges can be difficult. You may feel embarrassed or confused. You could be dealing with a new stressful situation in your life, or be confronted with newfound, fatigue or concentration problems. When this happens, starting the search for a counselor might seem overwhelming.

    But making the effort to seek out a therapist can be very worthwhile. Counseling can alleviate mental and emotional suffering and enhance your enjoyment of life. The question is: How to begin?

    A good starting point is often your family doctor. Hopefully, you have some level of trust with a physician who already has familiarity with your situation. Also, he or she should be familiar with the local therapy community. And this can boost their ability to find a good match.

    Your doctor will likely recommend one of four types of therapists:

    1. Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC)
    2. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
    3. Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
    4. Clinical Psychologist. (Ph.D. or Psy.D.)

    Your doctor may even recommend a psychiatrist (MD) who can prescribe medication, which can be useful in some cases.

    You could also ask a trusted friend or family member. There may be people in your life who’ve had positive experiences with therapists. If you have health insurance, you can contact your insurance company for practitioners who participate in your health plan. Most therapists have websites, which can answer many of your questions and provide a way to contact the practice. And there are sites that offer patient ratings you can review.

    You can also check out PsychologyToday.com. In addition to its many helpful articles about mental health, the site offers a therapist directory. The listings can be sorted by zip code, practitioner specialty and types of insurance accepted. It also has photos and descriptions of the therapists and their rates — along with email and telephone contacts.

    Many therapists are willing to speak with potential new clients by phone, and I recommend this as a good starting point to answer your initial questions. Also, even in a brief conversation, you may get a feeling as to how well you may relate to the therapist and whether they seem like the kind of person you could have an honest, in-depth conversation with.

    Some things you may want to ask about include:

    • What will therapy be like? How long are your sessions?
    • How do you typically begin working with a new client?
    • What kind of paperwork do you need me to fill out?
    • What is your training and approach to treatment?
    • Do you offer teletherapy?
    • What is your experience in treating the issues I want to work on? For example, someone suffering from PTSD after military service might want a therapist who themselves had military experience or who has a history of working with veterans.

    Finding a therapist can take some effort, and it can make you feel very vulnerable, but it’s nothing to be embarrassed about — and the potential benefits can be well worth it in the long run. If you have issues that you feel might benefit from working with a therapist, I encourage you to do so, and would be happy to speak with you myself. Visit CouplesTherapyOrlando.com or call 407-579-2070 to learn more about treatment options.

    Therapy services available via Telehealth.