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1. Like everything medical, mental health is a covered benefit with most health insurance. First step is to locate the mental health providers listed in your mental health provider directory.
If you do not have mental health coverage, your budget will impact choices.
Michigan 211 may help locate your options. Free emotional support via phone 24/7 is available by calling 888-535-6136 then prompt 8.
2. Clarify your service needs. What would you like help with? What do you hope to achieve with mental health therapy? Grief work? Guidance, mentoring or support for relationships or other stress? Symptom specific treatment? Diagnostics? Remember that only doctors, psychiatrists and nurse practitioners may prescribe medication. Speak with your primary care doctor if medication is your main concern.
a. Evidenced based treatment approaches to mental health offer treatment options that have been studied and proven successful. Evidenced based therapy is best for treatment of mood disorders such as anxiety or depression, guidance through stressful life events and recovery from grief, trauma and substance use disorders.
b. Supportive therapy is for those seeking “someone to talk to”. The therapist’s role is that of a paid listener. Supportive therapy does not set expectations, focus on change or measure outcome. That said, it’s only fair to inform you that most communities offer supportive listening at no cost. 12-step programs, local community support groups, educational centers, women's centers, schools, religious organizations, and non-profits are helpful in providing support without requiring a mental illness diagnosis or generating a medical record.
3. Once you have identified your specific needs, it's time to do your research. Check the education, credentials, license, and experience of anyone you consider. Just because someone claims to be a "therapist" or "counselor" does not mean they are a reputable mental health provider. Ask people you trust for names of therapists in your community. Ask your health care providers, educators, religious community, co-workers, neighbors, friends, and family. Some social media groups offer recommendations as well. Conduct an internet search by location, treatment areas and services offered. A commonly referenced site is www.psychologytoday.com.
4. Yup, it may be hard to locate a therapist accepting new clients. www.PsychologyToday.com is a marketing site paid for by therapists interested in promoting services, but some are not accepting new clients. Your insurance provider directory may or may not be updated with correct information. If you struggle finding a therapist, remember that good health care is difficult to find in all specialty areas. You will have an easier search if you have flexible daytime scheduling. If you can, avoid asking for the first or last appointment of the workday, evenings and weekends for the evaluation appointment.
I’m sorry that happened to you, unfortunately bad experiences are real. Just like with a bad plumber, dentist, police officer, lawyer, or teacher—every profession includes a range of different personalities and skill levels. Every professional has a learning curve during the first 10 years.
1. Let’s consider what made the experience “bad”. Use what you learned in the past to avoid the same mistakes when screening a potential new therapist.
2. You are not required to, but you are allowed to ask questions prior to scheduling therapy. If a therapist will not answer your screening questions, and you can't find the answers on their website or on the internet, move on to the next therapist on your list.
3. Inform the therapist of your needs and expectations. Discuss your likes and dislikes based on past experiences. Ask if your needs align with the skills and services available from the therapist.
4. If you are court ordered for treatment, discuss your options and your rights with your caseworker, attorney, probation officer or advocate.
Check out the “Creating Best Results” pdf on this site. In addition to those 20 tips, I also suggest that you take responsibility for your therapy. The therapist provides the map, but it’s your journey and your choice of destination. You are welcome to use all the tools, videos and resources on this site with the therapist of your choice.
1. You could simply ask that exact question directly to your therapist either in person, on the phone, a voicemail or in writing. " I want to try a new therapist, but I am afraid to talk to you about it because I don't want to offend or hurt you " A professional and skilled therapist will thank you for the feedback and assist you with whatever you need. If you prefer services that better accommodate your schedule, location, budget, personal preferences or treatment needs, your current therapist could offer ideas to assist you.
2. "Trying someone new" whether that be in the form of a transfer, referral, consult or closure, is similar in all healthcare. Patients have the right to advocate for their needs, assess progress and report satisfaction regarding care*. Honest feedback is important to create the best results.
3. You are not responsible for your therapist's emotions. Therapy is not a personal relationship; it is a professional relationship. You might feel loyal, friendly, empathetic or caring toward your therapist, but the bottom line is that therapy is medical treatment, not friendship. You are not being mean or unkind when you advocate for your mental health. Practice communicating your needs assertively to help overcome fears and to establish healthy boundaries.
4. Based on your specific situation, personalize any of these examples to share in person, voice message, or in writing.
Thoughts for consideration: Identifying therapy goals, acknowledging symptoms to address, and stating changes you are willing to make, is a great way to help improve your therapy experience. If your interest in "trying a new therapist" relates to disinterest in addressing self-defeating behaviors, addictions or other behavioral changes necessary for mental health, then switching therapists may not be the answer. Discuss your thoughts about “trying someone new” with your other healthcare providers and with people whose judgement you trust.
(*If therapy is employer mandated, court ordered, or connected to legally binding contracts, involuntary placement or incarceration—then contact your caseworker, attorney, human resources representative, probation/parole officer or mental health patient rights advocate to gain understanding of your specific patient rights.)
Unfortunately, there is not really an effective way that you can find counseling for someone else. Unless your loved one is a minor, deemed incompetent, disabled or has a legal guardian— adults must schedule their own mental health services. I understand that you are trying to be helpful, and I see that your heart is in the right place, but because mental health treatment is a medical decision requiring motivation and compliance, the best treatment outcome requires that adults take responsibility for scheduling their own care with the provider of their choice.
So, what can you do to help? You should never work harder on someone else’s problem than they are, but you can be a role model for mental health and support your loved one’s decision to seek help. You may share these additional tips:
1. If they have insurance, tell them they may access their mental health provider directory for names of in-network therapists.
2. If applicable, encourage your loved one to discuss mental health treatment options and referrals with their primary care doctor or psychiatrist.
4. Some employers offer several free counseling sessions through their employee assistance program.
6. Depending on the severity of your concern, you can access therapy for yourself to learn more about how to maintain your own mental health when concerned about loved ones.
Thank you for asking this question. It is shared by many during these difficult times.
Telka's tools, resources and recommendations are not a substitute for mental health treatment or intended to be used as medical care. This site is not intended to diagnose or treat psychiatric or medical conditions. Always consult your own health care professional for the treatment of mental illness. Report to the nearest emergency room when you have a mental health emergency. Telka does not offer emergency services or crisis intervention. Telka is not a physician, does not prescribe medication. Suicide Prevention Hot line