Tips to choose your therapist

 

 

There has always been a stigma attached to mental health. But over the last 2 years, because of the pandemic, the discussions around advocacy of mental wellness have gained importance. Your decision to see a therapist, in itself, is a step you have taken to break this stigma and prioritize your overall wellbeing.

Choosing the right therapist forms a critical decision in taking your first step towards better mental health and it determines the success of the therapy. You have to remember that you are going to discuss topics that you may not be very comfortable with and share information that you might not have shared with your closest friend or loved ones earlier but you will be sharing it with your therapist. Having said that, there are so many options of therapists, counsellors and psychologists that making the right choice can seem rather overwhelming.

This article will share some guidelines or points for you to consider that will help you opt for a suitable therapist. This could be a good self-exploratory process as well.

Purpose: What do you want to achieve?

Identify the challenges you are experiencing and how you feel about it. It would also help if you are able to address what you trying to achieve through therapy. If this is something that you are not very clear about initially, then it is okay. Your identified therapist should be able to make you feel comfortable enough to begin with.  However, if you spend some time identifying the concerns you want to face, it just helps to improve your interaction with the therapist.

Note that your therapist is not your friend to give you advise on what to do and how. A therapist will typically partner with you through your challenges with different perspectives and empower you to grow.  It can get overwhelming sometimes to even have clarity of the problem you are experiencing, but expressing it to yourself first either through self-talk or writing in your journal may just give you the confidence of identifying what you would like to talk about with your therapist.

Psychologist or Counsellor or Psychiatrist: Who can help me best?

There are various aspects to approaching mental health. The difference between the professions mentioned above start with identifying the severity of the mental condition that they address. A counsellor or a psychologist will typically assess how you think about your life challenges, your behaviour and diagnose for symptoms mental disorders if any. They use talk therapy, other methods of psychological intervention or counselling for diagnosis, but, they do not prescribe medication.

A psychiatrist diagnoses mental illness and the chemical imbalances in the brain which are causing the symptoms in the person. A psychiatrist has a medical degree and is licensed to prescribe medication to the patient.

Match the personality

In order to have open communication with your therapist, it is important that you are comfortable with him/her. Think for yourself if their gender, age or cultural background of the therapist will affect your interaction with him/her. For example: Are you comfortable speaking to a woman older than you or would you prefer someone with similar age and gender as you? Also, it would be good to know which languages the therapist can converse in if you feel you can express yourself better in a specific language. In addition to the above, do note if your therapist is able to create a safe environment without any judgement to share.

Where to look for a therapist?

There are lots of options for therapists available on the internet. You could consider recommendations from your friends, doctor or any well-known mental health organization in your locality. There are also many online platforms that have therapists which offer online/virtual counselling.

Credentials

While selecting your therapist, it is good to know their qualifications and their experience. They could also have additional certifications and licenses. Also, therapists often specialize in specific areas like Family therapy, relationship counselling, child and adolescent counselling, trauma and anxiety counselling, counselling for substance abuse etc. So, it would be good to be aware of the therapist’s specialization before taking an appointment.

Cost and fees

It is very important to consider the costs involved in therapy. Most therapists will tell you their fees per session. It is also good to know the session duration which is usually 40 to 50 minutes. Some therapists might offer lucrative cost plans for a greater number of sessions booked. For example: If you book for 5 sessions together, it might be more economical than booking 5 single sessions.

Online or Offline Sessions

Traditionally therapists almost always engaged in face-to-face counselling. However, the current pandemic situation has increased the awareness around mental wellbeing and consequently increased the demand for online therapists who use virtual platforms for counselling. Online therapy is more flexible as the clients are not bounded by geographical restrictions like travel and time. It also maintains anonymity to a greater extent and allows different modes to communicate like text, audio and video depending on how comfortable you feel.

Choosing a therapist after considering all the above factors, might seem overwhelming. However, it will be worth your effort considering that you are going to be investing in this person to help you deal effectively with your life challenges and successfully achieve your goals.

 

 

About the Authors:                   

Vimala MV: Vimala has been a Communications Professional for over 15 years and decided to take the leap of faith and moved to the Mental Health landscape recently. She is a Certified Art Therapist and has a Diploma in Integrated Counseling accredited by the Complementary Therapists Accredited Association . She wishes to be a catalyst of positive change in people’s lives.

 

 

 

 

Minakshy Iyer: Minakshy has a Master’s degree in Counselling Psychology. She believes in advocacy of better mental health by promoting emotional resilience and developing life-skills from early childhood

 

 

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