In the “Consulting Therapist” series, I will answer all your questions about mental health and psychology. Whether you are struggling with a mental health condition, coping with anxiety about living conditions, or just seeking the insights of a therapist, you can submit a question. Every other Friday, please pay attention to my answers to your questions in the Healthy Mind newsletter.
Our readers ask
There are many different types of therapists and treatment methods, and I don’t know how to start. How do I know which treatment is best for me?
-Sarah, 66 years old
Researching treatment options can be overwhelming. Many people give up looking for a therapist because they don’t know how to start. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to simplify the process so that you can start treatment and start to feel better.
Understand the credentials
When you look at the treatment catalog or start researching the therapists in your community, you may see their initials-LCSW, LPC, LDAC. psychology. D, LMFT, etc.
These initials stand for things like licensed clinical social workers and licensed marriage and family therapists.
These initials only indicate that they have the credentials needed to practice. They are educated, experienced, and approved by the State Licensing Board to become therapists.
Ultimately, most of them provide the same type of service. Therefore, unless you are really interested in this, you don’t necessarily need to know all these headings. Instead, focus on finding a licensed mental health professional you think you can contact.
Type of treatment
However, overcoming the acronym is only the first step. Many therapists also talk about the type of treatment they provide, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or EMDR.
There may be a specific type of therapy that works for you. For example, you may find that EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) sounds like an attractive way to deal with past trauma. Or, you might think this sounds bad because you want to talk about moving forward, not the past.
If you have a strong feeling for a certain treatment, please choose a therapist who provides the treatment you are interested in.
Fortunately, you don’t have to know which treatment is best for you. That is the job of a therapist. The therapist may recommend certain treatments based on your needs and goals.
If the therapist has not been trained in a specific treatment that they think is appropriate, they may recommend that you transfer to another therapist.
However, in the end, it is up to you to decide what you are comfortable with. If a particular technique or type of treatment does not seem to match, you are not obligated to do so. Before starting any treatment, ask questions and understand some of the potential risks and benefits.
What to look for
The most important thing to look for in a therapist is someone who feels comfortable working with you. A healthy therapeutic relationship is more important than the type of therapy.
You may decide that it is most comfortable to work with people of your similar age, or you may want to work with people of your parents’ generation. It is important to consider which type of person you think you are most willing to accept.
In addition to the type of people you want to talk to, consider their expertise. Most therapists will say whether they specialize in treating specific problems or conditions, or whether they have extensive experience working with certain groups of people.
Therefore, whether you want an older female therapist who specializes in anxiety disorders or a young man who works with LGBTQ+ people, finding the right person is important.
In the past, treatment usually included meeting with the therapist in the office once a week. However, this has indeed changed in the past few years.
Now you can have video appointments, phone calls or SMS conversations. It all depends on what you are looking for.
Therefore, please consider whether you want to contact a local therapist who can communicate face-to-face, or an online therapist who may provide multiple communication methods.
Remember, if you choose online treatment, you may have more therapists to choose from. So, on the positive side, you may be able to find a therapist with expertise that no one in the community has, but on the other hand, having more therapists to choose from may make you feel overwhelmed.
Fortunately, many institutions or online treatment services will match you up. Just tell them the job you want to do and some information about yourself, and they may make some suggestions on who is best for you.
Where to look
You may start looking for a therapist in multiple places. If you are interested in meeting someone in the local community, you can first ask your doctor for advice.
If you have friends or family members who go to see a therapist, you can ask them to see if their therapist can recommend someone. If you talk about them during treatment, treating the same therapist as a sibling or close friend may not work well. You can also view the online catalog or perform a quick online search.
If you are willing to receive online treatment, please check various online treatment websites. You may find that these services will help you find the best match for you. They may recommend several therapists for you to choose from, or they may assign you a therapist based on your needs.