If you’re struggling with mental health issues like depression, anxiety, or a substance use disorder, getting professional help can make a big difference in your life. A therapist can provide you with a safe space to discuss these issues and give you guidance to manage your symptoms and make positive changes in your life. There are many resources available for finding a counselor in your area. You can search online, get a referral from your doctor, or even join a support group at a local meeting spot like a community center.
You may also have family and friends who can provide you with support, but a therapist brings a level of expertise that’s unique to the field. They’re professionally trained to listen and offer unbiased opinions and advice. They can also teach you coping skills and techniques for managing your condition.
Your loved ones may have some reservations if you want professional help about seeking treatment. They may feel there’s a stigma attached to talking about mental health and that it’s something they should just “get over.” It can be difficult to convince someone they need therapy, especially if they’re not willing to talk about it or aren’t ready for it. But it’s important to be persistent and show them how you can be supportive without making them feel guilty.
A good place to start is by looking for a therapist who fits your needs. It’s important to find somebody who matches up with your concerns, and you can do that by searching online, getting a referral from a friend, or asking for a recommendation from your doctor, says Bufka. Then, take a look at their website to see what kind of training they have.
The type of therapy they specialize in will also be important to consider. For example, if you want to work on overcoming a trauma, it’s best to find a therapist with experience in that area. The same goes for other kinds of treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).
Another thing to keep in mind is that some therapists have different payment methods. For instance, some therapists only accept cash or checks while others only work with certain insurance plans. If that’s an issue, it’s worth asking for a referral from your insurance company to see which therapists are on their network.
It’s a good idea to bring a pen and paper, or a notes app, to your first appointment. You might end up with a lot of questions that you want to ask the therapist, so it’s helpful to have them written down.
You should also make sure to check the therapist’s credentials and qualifications. Make sure they have a valid license and are in good standing with their regulatory board. Lastly, trust your gut. If the connection doesn’t feel right or you feel uncomfortable, it may be time to move on to a different therapist.