How to find a Mental Health Professional Who Is Right for You:
How do I know if I’ve found the right counselor or therapist?
Do I need a therapist, counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist?
This process can be overwhelming.
If you feel like you would benefit from, or are interested in learning more about possible medications for your symptoms, or if you just need to have your medications adjusted or monitored by a specialist, then look for a good prescriber- a psychiatrist, NP or PNP (Nurse Practitioner or Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner) would be a good place to start.
If you feel like you would benefit from it, or if another medical provider recommended psychological testing, then look for a psychologist who has a good reputation. Psychologists also often provide therapy, but they are paid at a higher rate due to their license and additional training, and may not be fully covered by your health insurance plan. Check with your health insurance provider about the differences.
If you are interested in therapy or counseling, then search for a therapist or counselor. These terms are interchangeable. You will want to consider several factors:
Where is their office located? Are their office hours compatible with my schedule? Do they offer teletherapy, in-person therapy, or both? What type of therapy am I most comfortable with?
Come to the first session, or to the consultation prepared to interview your provider. You are in control of this process. Ask various questions, such as: What is their education and training? How long have they been in practice? What are their specialties? What is their treatment approach? Do they have experience with my diagnosis or type of problem?
After the first session, evaluate your experience. Talk about how you feel at the end of the session with your therapist. It is important to feel that you have an initial good connection and that you can trust them with your private information. However, you have just revealed a lot about your life and may feel overwhelmed or exhausted from this process. This is normal after the first session. Try to give your counselor a chance to get to know you as an individual. Don’t be afraid to communicate with them openly regarding your thoughts about the therapeutic relationship, and how your therapy is going. Your counselor can adjust the sessions to meet your needs and comfort level.