Choosing A Therapist
Choosing a therapist can often be a very difficult and frustrating process. Academic degrees, professional credentials, as well as clinical training can often be confusing and misleading. A good frame of reference is to choose a professional who has received their degree from a recognized university. This does not of course guarantee a successful outcome in treatment, but may increase the likelyhood. There are many good small educational settings and training programs that are excellent and produce very sophisticated and specialized type of training, but unless one knows where to look and what to look for, this can can very difficult to navigate. A couple of examples of these types of academic programs and or post graduate training include specialized applications of CBT, and Psychoanalysis. Traditional health care insurance networks such as Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield, United Health Care, Cigna, Aetna to name a few, provide reimbursement for active forms of impairment and follow strict medical necessity guidelines. EAP company and non-traditional types of mental health coverage are exceptions and focus more on short-term assessment and counseling. See insurance utilization page on this topic that goes more into more detail. At times, based on treatment assistance needed, it may be a better path to seek services at a local training clinic, or even with a personal or professional coach. Keep in mind that coaching is currently largely an unregulated field. So seeking referrals through a related certifying organization is often the best direction to take.
It is important to speak with the mental health professional whom you are considering "hiring" prior to meeting with them. They should sound genuinely interested, present and interactive in the conversation, knowledgeable, objective and compassionate. They should be able to provide a clear, straightforward description of how they might be of assistance to you. Furthermore, they should be willing to respond to any question pertaining to their credentials, specialization, training and professional experience. If you ask a personal question that they are not willing to answer, you should expect them to explain how it would not be in your best treatment interest to answer the question, rather than them just saying that "they won't answer that question." Their responses should make sense and feel satisfactory to you.
Feeling comfortable, put at ease, and understood in this initial conversation is crucial in contributing to a successful outcome in therapy with them. Feeling confused or judged is likely to be an indication of what therapy with them might be like! Psychotherapy does not need to be complex or confusing. Be certain to choose this professional whom you will be entrusting your mental health care in as carefully as you would choose any other health care professional.