Decide on what kind of therapist is right for you. Therapists may include counselors, ministers, psychiatric nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, teachers, etc. All therapists require different schooling. Backgrounds and areas of expertise vary, as well as licensing requirements which may vary from state to state.
Discipline specialties also may vary. For example, some psychologists are trained in testing and evaluation in order to properly diagnose and treat a patient with a particular diagnosis such as a learning disability. Psychiatrists are more specialized in psycho-pharmacology and are the only professionals listed above that are able to prescribe medication. However, not all psychiatrists offer psychotherapy.
A Licensed Clinical Social Worker is someone who has been trained clinically on a graduate level and/or beyond. In addition to a clinical expertise he/she is also usually an expert in resource information, which may be extremely valuable ie., emergency services, treatment centers, elder care agencies, etc.. Social Workers may also consult with other disciplines as the need arises, such as the need for a psychiatrist to prescribe psychiatric medication as an adjunct to psychotherapy. In New Jersey, continuing education credits are required in order to deliever the highest level of care available today. The B.C.D. is a national credential and trancends those requirements.
In order to best select a therapist it is probably best not to select one at random. Upon making contact with a therapist you will naturally get a sense of whether or not he/she is for you. Follow your instincts and you can always evaluate this over a period of several meetings. However, don’t be too quick to bail out as you may need time to evaluate the situation carefully. Sometimes it is helpful to go on someone elses’ recommendation should they have had a positive experience. However, that same therapist might not be right for you. That’s why it is sometimes wise to shop around.
Also consider whether or not you have any special needs which may require a specialist in a particular area, such as substance abuse, eating disorders, etc.. Look for someone whom you might consider to be a good role model for you.
Another consideration is the gender of the professional. Depending on your background and what your issues are, or just based on personal preference, be clear about who you think might be best for you at this time.
Caution: Don’t choose a therapist just because he/she’s on an insurance panel and will save you money! Although some therapists may be perfectly fine, usually a bargain therapist is just that. It is also true that insurance companies may require confidential information to be shared. Please note that managed care almost always requires ongoing submissions which are personal and confidential in nature about the client. They may also set limits and restrictions on the type of therapy you receive and the number of payable visits they allow. However some insurance plans outside of panels are less intrusive and may offer a reasonable discount. Each one varies so you may want to investigate beforehand. Some people choose not to deal with insurance companies at all, given managed care’s bad press.
You may also want to know how long the person has been in practice and whether or not you are dealing with a mature, experienced and seasoned professional.
It is important to realize that seeking out this form of treatment is healthy. This tells me the individual wants the best, and knows how to help themselves. Often times, those that do not seek out treatment may acquire maladaptive behaviors including bad habits. They may have difficulties with relationships, job satisfaction, etc. They sometimes tend to overindulge and/or develop somatic symptoms. Many people are afraid and initially resist help, so try not to resist!
I have found that once people have made contact with a mental health professional they generally tend to feel somewhat better, instantly. Now it’s up to you!
Good luck selecting the best therapist for you. Once again, if you have any other questions, you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org or call me.