ABCs of Mental Health Care

Seeking Help

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No decision about selecting a therapist is set in stone. If you feel uncomfortable with a therapist, you might want to seek out another. Remember, a therapist who was perfect for your friend might not be right for you. There are several things to keep in mind when selecting a therapist.

Personal comfort

One of the most important things to consider is how you feel with a therapist. There are some people with whom we "click" more so than others. And there is likely to be some uneasiness in any therapeutic situation, especially in the beginning. Therefore, do not sell your therapist short.

If you do feel uncomfortable, try talking to your therapist about it. Gauge how she responds to the feelings you share. If your therapist becomes defensive, or does not adequately address your concerns, it might be time to find someone else. If your therapist responds well to your concerns, but your feeling persists and you believe it is preventing you from obtaining the results you want, listen to yourself and consider seeking another professional.

You should feel that your therapist is listening to you, is concerned for you and has your best interests at heart.

Licensure

While therapists with various academic degrees can be effective, make sure that your therapist is licensed in your state. A license does not guarantee competence, but it assures you that the person has met certain educational and ethical standards. This is important if a problem with the therapist ever occurs.

Therapist orientation

There are many different "schools" of psychotherapy. While research has not generally found one method better than another, different people will feel more comfortable with different approaches. And, certain treatments seem to be more effective with certain disorders (e.g., cognitive-behavioral therapy for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder).

Michael Herkov, PhD
© 2000 by University of Florida Brain Institute

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