Time to Talk to Somebody? Tips on Finding a Therapist
If life is getting you down, it might be time to see a therapist. Talk therapy may be enough to help you get your life back on track.
Life seems to be pressing down on you these days. You feel discouraged, and you're not functioning very well. You may know what's wrong, but knowing doesn't always fix it. Friends mean well, but talking to them doesn't help. They just tell you to "cheer up" or "get over it."
Maybe it's time to see a therapist.
Some people hesitate to make that step. They feel they should be able to work out their problems on their own, and they're a little embarrassed to ask for help.
Don't let those notions stop you. Millions of Americans seek professional counseling every year.For those with mild depression, talk therapy may be all they need. For those with more serious problems, talk therapy can be combined with medication to make their treatment more successful.
A therapist is trained to help you. He or she can listen objectively and give realistic feedback and support. Seeing a good therapist - even for just a few weeks - can improve your outlook and help you on the road to wellness. You owe it to yourself and your family to do all you can to feel better.
What can therapy do?
Therapy can help you:
- Identify problems in your life and understand how to solve or cope with them
- Challenge negative or distorted thinking that makes you feel bad about yourself
- Express emotions without being judged
- Learn how to better interact with the people in your life
- Regain a sense of control over your life
Whom should I see?
Many different types of professionals may provide talk therapy, including:
- Social workers (DSW, MSW, LCSW, LICSW, CCSW)
- Licensed counselors or therapists (MA, MS, MFCC, MFT, LPC, LCPC)
- Psychologists (PhD, PsyD, EdD, MS)
- Psychiatric nurses (APRN, PMHN)
- Psychiatrists (MD or DO)
What type of degree or license a therapist has is not the most important factor. What matters most is how comfortable you feel with the person and how well the person listens to and understands you.
How can I find a therapist?
The best place to start may be with your family doctor. Sometimes medical problems can cause symptoms like those of depression or other mental health issues. Your doctor can do a physical exam to rule out other causes and refer you to a mental health professional for counseling.
Some employers have employee assistance programs (EAP) that offer counseling services. In most cases, these are free and confidential. Check with the human resource office to find out if your company has an EAP and how to access it.
You can also get referrals from:
- Your insurance company to find which mental health professionals are covered or in network
- Professional groups such as the American Psychological Association and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT)
- Your city or state mental health department
- Family or friends