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  • Paula Thompson
    Paula Thompson

    The Therapy Consumer's Guide: Finding and Estimating What You Need for Informed Decisions

    When it comes to wading through the murky waters of one's mental health, often times we don't know where to start. Everyone's psychological needs are unique and finding qualified professional help can be a daunting and intimidating task. Thankfully, it is becoming easier than ever before to seek out the right provider with an understanding of techniques, approaches, and philosophies that match what one is looking for. Gone are the days when "buyer-beware" was the only way to find your therapist. What follows are a few tips to consider when making this momentous and important purchase.

    First of all, decide why—or why not—you're ready for professional help. Ask yourself some hard questions such as "What will psychotherapy provide?" and "Am I ready to put in the hard work that therapy involves?" It is vital to understand the process before you even inquiry about a good provider, so that you can make an informed decision and get the most out of your experience.

    Second, be sure to ask around. Talk to friends who have done or currently do psychotherapy, family members (if appropriate), or even coworkers. Ask if they have had any meaningful experiences with therapy and if they have any suggestions on who or what type of psychotherapist might be able to help with certain issues. Seeking out feedback speaks volumes about one's personal growth, especially if done revealing the details of what you potentially may be going through. Be sure to speak with your general physician or other specialists in the field. Often times a referral from a medical doctor can be helpful as well.

    Thirdly, take the time to scour through potential therapists' credentials. Beyond just their names, look for what experience and qualifications therapists may have obtained. Are they board certified? If not, how long have they been practicing in the field? Have they previously worked with similar cases? Are there any available resources that could back these claims up? Asking around can often be helpful but having tangible evidence is essential when making a decision that has such profound implications.

    Fourth, consider scheduling an initial consultation in order to get comfortable with the psychologist and feel out whether he or she would be a good fit. Ask them questions not just about themselves and their qualifications, but also delve further into their philosophy and world view. There are no wrong answers here— as hopefully it will lead to your eventual choice; however, it can also give you insight into whether or not they are a person that you can trust, respect and feel comfortable discussing your sensitive issues with. For example, understand what their views are related to diagnosing an individual; this helps provide an indicator of how the therapy sessions will evolve over time or even acute treatments may be summarily called for to provide symptom relief.

    Spending some time in research does not only apply to information about professionals in the field; it is also a great idea for customers to explore their own preferences, strengths, and weaknesses related to any particular type of therapy and provider style. For example, perhaps consider looking up what kind of setting you would feel comfortable in (in terms of size or setup) as well as understanding any potential cost concerns from insurance companies that regularly cover mental health services. Remember not to rush your decision but instead rely on your inner feelings – use your instincts as well as your logistical side.

    Above all else remember that there is no substitute for honest effort when it comes to finding someone with whom you can share your secrets and secrets alike in an effort to learn more about yourself. Knowing that there are endless possibilities out there isn't meant to overwhelm or confuse— it is intended to empower individuals in their search for self knowledge, healing, and joy. It's up to all of us to break through our clouds of confusion like ships emerging through fog– brightly colored sails raised signaling that we are safe on our journey– with the goal of finally arriving at the home port of personalized psychological growth and health we all long for.

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