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If you are in crisis and have nowhere to turn, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You can also call 911.

If you’d like to find a therapist in your area you can check out Psychology Today or Find-A-Psychologist. If you live in Utah or Salt Lake counties and would like to learn more about my practice, check out my Psychology Today profile here.

depressed boy

Everybody hurts…sometimes

Sometimes we can handle our problems by ourselves, sometimes we need a little help from family and friends, and sometimes we need professional help.

It takes a lot of courage to finally seek help. Most people think about going to therapy for a long time before they finally call someone. There is no shame in seeking help from a professional, especially when you feel hopeless.

Therapists and counselors provide a safe environment where you can get things off your chest, work through your problems, get valuable feedback, and learn useful skills.

There are a few things to consider before you make that call.

What kind of therapist do you want?

There are many roads that lead to the title of “therapist” or “counselor” and it is important that you know how they differ.  If you see a psychiatrist then you are seeing someone who went to medical school. This person is a physician whose primary way of treating mental health issues is with medication. Most psychiatrists don’t offer psychotherapy anymore and if they do, they are usually very expensive. Psychiatric nurse practitioners can also prescribe psychological medications, but aren’t usually therapists.

Psychologists (like me) have doctorate degrees (Ph.D., Psy.D., and Ed.D.), but do not go to medical school. This means that most psychologists do not prescribe medicine. There are a few states that allow it, but if a psychologist wants to prescribe meds they have to get extra schooling.  Not all psychologists are therapists, either.

There are various types of psychologists, but the ones that provide therapy are clinical or counseling psychologists. Unlike other mental health professionals, psychologists are uniquely trained to conduct specialized psychologist assessments (e.g., diagnostic, personality, IQ, forensic, neurocognitive) that can come in handy when you are trying to get your child accommodations at school or trying to prove you should be let out on parole.

Social workers (MSW or LCSW), marriage & family therapists (MFT or MFC), licensed mental health counselors (LMHC), and Licensed professional counselors (LPC or LPCC) typically earn master’s degrees. While they do not perform intensive psychological testing like psychologists do, these master’s-level professionals are often trained just as well as therapists.

What kind of therapy do you want?

There a lots of ways to help someone through therapy. Some therapies plumb the depths of your childhood memories, some encourage you to open your mind through meditation and non-judgmental observation of daily experiences, and some teach you to notice, revise, and replace negative thinking patterns.

Regardless of the particular approach your therapist uses, there is something you should know. Therapy does not work well if you don’t have a good relationship with your therapist.

Most of the research on psychotherapy suggests that a good relationship between client and counselor is the key to effective therapy. In other words, if your therapist is warm, listens well, challenges you, and you feel like you can trust him or her, then you are more than halfway to better mental health.

If you ever feel like you don’t have this kind of relationship with your therapist, bring it up in therapy. If the therapist can’t address it to your liking, then find another therapist. I’m not saying your therapist is a “bad” therapist, but good therapist-client fit is crucial to you getting the help you need. Don’t be afraid to shop around.

How much does therapy cost?

That depends on who you see. The more years she spent in college, the more your therapist is likely to charge. In some respects, the old adage, “you get what you pay for” applies to therapists, but not always.

Just like in any industry, the market ultimately determines the prices. Usually the first session is more expensive than follow-up sessions. Some therapists take insurance, some don’t. Some therapists offer a sliding scale (meaning they will reduce prices depending on your financial situation), some don’t.

You shouldn’t be afraid to pay good money for good therapy. Social science has shown for years that if you pay for it, you’re more likely to take therapy seriously and do the work necessary to get better.

Now what?

So you’ve learned a little about therapists and therapies, now it’s time to pick a therapists. If you know someone who is seeing a therapist, ask them if they like theirs. If you’re working from scratch, search databases like Psychology Today or Find-A-Psychologist for someone in your area who has experience with your issue.

Don’t spend too much time looking, though. There are a lot of good therapists out there. Give one a try and if it doesn’t work out then try a different one. In the meantime, keep coming back to my blog and I’ll keep posting information I think is helpful. Don’t give up!

Disclaimer: Reading my blog is not a substitute for one-on-one, face-to-face professional treatment. Interaction with me on this blog does not represent a professional therapeutic relationship. I do not assume liability for any damage or injury resulting from your decision to interact with this blog.