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Tips on Finding a Therapist That’s Right for You

Acknowledging that you need help is one of the biggest steps that will pave the way for your recovery. Therapy makes a world of difference in the treatment of mental illnesses and substance use disorders.

Speaking with a mental health professional can help you understand the triggers that led you to substance abuse, guide you toward emotional recovery, and teach you positive strategies to continue living a meaningful life while staying sober.

However, finding the right mental health professional often requires time and effort and sometimes involves a trial-and-error process. Nevertheless, seeking help is one of the first steps toward recovery.

In this article, we’ll share practical tips on seeking support for yourself or a loved one and how to overcome the challenge of finding the right therapist.

Types of Therapists

Navigating the realm of mental health professionals can be confusing and overwhelming. When trying to find a therapist that’s right for you, it helps to think about the reasons why you’re seeking treatment in the first place.

Who you settle on should help you on your journey—their skills and expertise should be aligned with your needs. Understanding what differentiates mental health professionals from one another can make a huge difference in who you choose.

    1. Psychiatrists (MD/DO)

When trying to figure out how to choose a therapist, you’ll probably see a lot of psychiatrists in your search. They are medical doctors specializing in treating specific mental illnesses, such as severe depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance use disorders.

Aside from therapy, psychiatrists may use a pharmacological approach and prescribe medication to help you get into a better headspace and prevent relapse. They have the distinction of being a medical doctor, as recognized by law.

a man in a therapy session with a psychologist

    2. Psychologists (Ph.D., PsyD)

Psychologists are mental health professionals that have the right qualifications to conduct therapy sessions. Clinical psychology focuses more on using therapeutic techniques to treat your mental health condition, such as through cognitive behavioural therapy and 12-step facilitation treatment.

They can conduct their work in person or through online therapy to teach you strategies to manage the symptoms of your mental illness. However, they are not medical doctors and therefore cannot prescribe medication.

    3. Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW)

Licensed clinical social workers must possess a master’s degree and advanced training in psychotherapy to provide emotional support, mental health evaluations, and therapy. They are well-versed in the processes surrounding the social services system.

Mental health and substance abuse social workers usually work in residential treatment facilities, hospital settings, and social services organizations. Like psychologists, social workers cannot prescribe medication.

    4. Marital and Family Therapists (MFTs)

This group of professionals specializes in psychotherapy and family systems. They are qualified to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders within the context of relationships, marriage, and family systems.

    5. Addiction Counsellors

Also known as substance abuse counsellors, addiction counsellors work directly with patients struggling with substance abuse or behavioural addiction. They often work in community mental health clinics, but sometimes practice privately.

A licensed professional counsellor will typically have a master’s degree in social work or psychology or a combination of relevant educational backgrounds, years of experience, and licenses that qualify them to treat mental illness.

Figuring Out Your Next Steps

Once you’ve figured out the kind of specialist you want to seek out, your next steps will help you in finding a therapist that’s right for you.

a woman finding a therapist on her phone

Know Your Options

Knowing what your options are can help you narrow your search. While you might get decision fatigue because of the overwhelming array of choices, it’s important to know it is absolutely fine to explore all the options to find something you’re comfortable with.

Ask Around Or Search Online

Try to maximize your resources and do more research. Look up the term ‘therapist near me’ online or look into reviews of therapists online.

Alternatively, you can get recommendations from a trusted source or someone you know.

Organize Key Information

Finding a therapist might take some time. To ensure that you have a stress-free experience, organize the information you gather by creating a table and writing down the following while researching potential candidates:

  • Name of the therapist
  • Area of specialization
  • Years of experience
  • Contact number
  • Address of the clinic
  • Schedule of the clinic
  • Online ratings (if any)
  • Other notes

Consider the Costs

The costs of mental health care can vary widely depending on a few factors, such as the therapist’s educational attainment, title, and years of experience.

Registered social workers or counselling therapists tend to be more affordable, while psychologists that have a master’s degree or a Ph.D. can range from a hundred to a few hundred dollars. In some cases, it may also be more affordable to do online therapy rather than speaking with a professional in person.

Interview Promising Options and Set Expectations

By calling the therapist, you can get a general impression of their personality and whether they will click with you. You or your loved one may resonate more with certain therapists, so this is where a trial-and-error process may take place.

After you’ve narrowed your choice down to one therapist, it’s best to set expectations before the first session to find a therapist that’s compatible with you.

A group therapy session.

Finding the Right Therapist: Questions to Ask Yourself After the Initial Appointment

Most therapists offer a free consultation to give patients a no-commitment opportunity and help determine whether they’re a good fit for each other.

Here are some guide questions to keep in mind after the first session:

  • Do I feel comfortable opening up to my therapist?
  • Is my therapist an empathic listener and non-judgmental?
  • Do they have the necessary professional experience and credentials?
  • What specific types of therapy do they offer, and how can they help me?
  • Can I afford the treatment fees?
  • Does my insurance cover this therapist?
  • Do they accommodate my work or school schedule?
  • Can they customize their treatment plan according to my unique needs?
  • What do former patients say about them?

Effective Individual Counselling & Sobriety Support at Freedom From Addiction

The search for how to find a therapist ends at Freedom From Addiction—effective and empathetic treatment starts with the right professional.

Freedom From Addiction recognizes the importance of therapy in our patient’s emotional healing and recovery. Our research-based treatments include individual counselling and group-based therapy for different addiction programs and concurrent disorders.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you and your loved ones on their path to recovery.

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