When Its Time for Therapy Advice for Finding and Hiring the Right Therapist

As human beings we are often intent on solving our own issues, coming to terms with life’s challenges and stand in our determination to go it alone. After all, who could possibly understand what we are going through? Who would want to hear all our problems and how could just talking to some stranger help anyway? Besides, isn’t therapy for “crazy people?” We often choose not to reach out for assistance because we believe that either no one will really care or that we will somehow be labeled as “nuts.” But the business of psychotherapy can be just what the doctor ordered.

Making the decision to “take the plunge” and find a therapist can be both overwhelming and frightening. Understanding first and foremost that you do not have to struggle with difficult times alone is the biggest step and seeking to overcome the challenges that present themselves in our lives. It in no way means that one is either a failure or “a mental case.” In fact, choosing to find a qualified therapist or psychologist to aid in your healing process is both courageous and an important step in taking care of your needs.

Once you have decided to seek out a therapist you will want to do a little research. While opening the yellow pages and pointing might end up working out just fine for you it is important to find a fit that is both comfortable for you and beneficial in the end. Don’t be afraid to “shop” for a therapist. You might need to begin with finding out what costs your health insurance will cover. Most health insurance companies will provide you with a list of approved therapists; in other words those they have determined have both the qualifications and experience necessary to meet their criteria. If money is not an issue and you are able to pay privately you certainly have more choices available to you, however, the cost can be a major concern. Begin your search, then, by obtaining your insurance companies list of therapists who take your insurance or by making your own list of therapists in your area.

If possible, find out if anyone on the list has the qualifications you are seeking. Educating yourself ahead of time on the different types of therapies that exist will help you determine what might best meet your needs. For instance, if you are seeking assistance with healing from a traumatic experience you will want someone who specializes in trauma therapy. If you simply want to control habits you may have determined unhealthy for yourself an Addictions Counselor or Cognitive Behavioral therapist, depending on the issue, may be a more appropriate choice. If specialties are not listed, a quick call to the individuals office can determine if they may be qualified to help you with your particular concerns.

Knowing basic back ground and credentials held by your potential therapist will also be good to know. While a therapist who has only been practicing for a short time may be wonderful, you may want to consider a more seasoned clinician. The amount of time in practice does not always make a difference as new clinicians may be just as qualified. The license a clinician holds will indicate, for the most part their level of experience. In most case clinicians need to be in the field and working for a couple of years, receiving supervision before testing for a license. Different states require different license levels. An LCSW (Licensed Certified Social Worker), is often enough in some states. This is normally one of the first licenses obtained in the field of social work and after a few years at this level a clinician can test for an LICSW (Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker). An LMHC (Licensed Mental Health Clinician) is equivalent in many states to an LICSW. Other clinicians may have a doctorate in psychology. The most significant difference between the social work and mental health clinicians and a psychologist is the ability to test for specific diagnosis’s. If you are a seeking help for addictions an counseling certified in addiction may be sufficient.

Once you have determined the type of therapy and therapist you are looking for you will be able to narrow your choices down on your list. It is then important to know you can and should interview potential therapists. You are in effect, hiring this individual. You want to be sure this is a person you not only feel is qualified for the job of helping you through a difficult time but is someone you feel comfortable working with and with whom you feel comfortable confiding your concerns.

Social Workers and Psychologist work by a code of ethics. While trust may be a concern for you it is important to understand clinicians are held to a belief in confidentiality. A good clinician will never talk about your case to others. Exceptions to the rule are connected directly to your safety and the safety of others. If your clinician had real concerns that you might hurt yourself or someone else, it would be inappropriate for them not to act in your best interest. You might know they could also discuss your case with colleagues within their office, others who are also bound to the rule of confidentiality. This is, again, to be sure they are acting in your best interest. Colleagues may be able to assist them in helping you. In all other situations, a qualified clinician will not even acknowledge that you are their client.

It does take courage to seek help in difficult times. “Stigma’s “ still exist about entering into therapeutic relationships. The question becomes, do we stay in a place of fear, anxiety, worry, and sometimes horror; or do gather a support system and free ourselves but choosing not to go it alone? With the right people on your team, winning the race is a sure thing.


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Posted on Jan 5, 2010
carol roach
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Posted on Jan 3, 2010