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How to find and hire a great therapist

What do therapists do, exactly?

A psychotherapist, or therapist for short, is a trained professional who helps sufferers and their loves ones manage all types of behavioral health issues from stress and depression to addiction and schizophrenia. Psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, social workers, and life coaches are examples of some of the licensed professionals who work as therapists.

Therapists are an important part of living a healthy and fulfilling life. Whether you’re battling a life-long disease, going through a rough time, or you just need support, these professionals provide and safe environment for you to work through your struggles and gain a different perspective on life.

What can a therapist do for me?

Psychotherapy, or talk therapy, is not just discussing problems; it also concentrates on working toward solutions. Some forms of therapy encourages clients to complete homework, such as writing down thoughts or tracking moods, others involve participating in social activities that have caused or contributed to anxiety in the past.

Often times, therapists offer different perspectives and ways of looking at things while promoting healthier or more positive ways to react to events or people. An experienced therapist will help their clients cope with particularly challenging feelings and symptoms and change behavior patterns that contribute to their illness.

Therapy has the ability to help you:

  • Separate your true personality from the symptoms caused by your illness
  • Understand your illness and why you do the things you do
  • Make sense of and cope with past traumatic experiences
  • Improve relationships with loved ones
  • Define and achieve wellness goals
  • Manage stress
  • Establish a stable routine
  • Overcome fears and/or insecurities
  • Understand why things bother you and how to cope
  • Develop an action plan for efficiently managing crises in the moment
  • Identify and avoid triggers that may aggravate or worsen your symptoms
  • End damaging habits such as drug use, drinking, overspending, or unhealthy sex

What practice area should I choose?

Many therapists tend to focus only on one area, or several related areas of mental health. In your search for the right therapist, look for a therapist who understands and has experience in the specific area for your issue. For example, a divorce therapist will have trouble helping you with problems concerning a compulsion to shop, but a professional who understands addiction would be a perfect match. Reputable therapists are upfront about their experience and specific focus, but to save time, consider narrowing down your search beforehand.

Is practice size and type something I should consider when I’m looking for a behavioral health therapist?

Even though locating a therapist with whom you connect is arguably the most important aspect of the search, the practice size and type in which your therapist is found is definitely something you should consider as well. Companies may employ one therapist or consist of hundreds and some concentrate on specific issues while others are more generalized.

Someone who is suffering from multiple and/or severe mental health challenges that interfere with safety, including substance addiction, may want to consider a larger company or inpatient treatment, especially if they require more than one or two specialists. This way it is easier for the individual’s team of professionals to communicate and come up with a plan of action to optimize the client’s future.

Those seeking long term treatment for all other conditions, short term assistance, or guidance based support have more flexibility and can benefit from either a small practice or large, depending on the individual’s insurance plan and comfort level.

Should location be a major factor in my search for an therapist or facility?

Absolutely. Those who require inpatient care for substance abuse are strongly encouraged to move as far away as possible from their current location, friends, and family members to avoid environmental triggers, quitting the program, and the client’s overall chance relapse in the long term. All other Individuals may want to start their search as close to home as possible, especially if you require long term support, have daily/weekly appointments, or need to be close to a loved one who is in long term residential care for a severe mental health challenge.

What are other clients saying about them?

One of the best ways to recognize whether or not a therapist is right for you is to browse through client reviews and read what previous clients have said about their experiences with particular professionals. Once you select a therapist to contact, read all the reviews about that specific therapist to get an idea of how they may interact with you or your loved one.

What types of payment do behavioral health therapist usually accept?

Most therapists accept standard payment methods, such as cash, check, and credit cards for out of pocket costs - see below for insurance information. Since it is no secret that a lot of mental health challenges stem from and contribute to financial strain, you may be able to find a professional who is able to work with you on cost, so be sure to discuss payment options before agreeing to a certain fee. Many therapists are also willing to set up a payment plan, if necessary.

Common payments accepted by RecoveryExperts therapists

What types of insurance do behavioral therapist take and am I covered?

Those with insurance through larger carriers have access to a wider range of therapists but every insurance company has a list of professionals and facilities with whom they partner. PPO plans give more freedom to their members when it comes to choosing their therapist, while HMO plans are typically more restricted. In terms of coverage, all plans vary; before beginning your therapist search, be sure to check your benefits with your insurance company.

Individuals who are covered through government programs like Medicaid should consult with their provider for all options.

How much experience does this therapist have?

Behavioral specialists, like all professionals, have varying degrees of experience. Understanding an therapist’s previous experience is vital to getting a feel for how they will work with you or your loved one. Ask how many years they have been practicing but keep in mind that a lack of experience isn’t necessarily a red flag, especially if they have experienced psychotherapists around them.

What is your approach? What methods do you employ?

The goal of these questions is to find out how they will go about treating your problem and if you’re comfortable with their way of doing things. Don’t be afraid to ask him or her follow-up question or to clarify something you don’t completely understand. While you talk with the potential therapist, try to be aware of how the conversation flows and whether or not you feel comfortable continuing the discussion in his or her office.

What do you think is the goal of therapy? What’s expected from me? (For example, are there homework assignments?)

After telling the perspective therapist a brief synopsis of what you’re looking for, ask what he or she thinks they can do for you and what your expected role entails. Keep in mind that no credible therapist will tell you that simply showing up should do the trick. Clients are typically expected to implement strategies discussed in therapy to real life situations in order to see positive results.

What’s the number of sessions you think we’ll need?

This is an important question to ask for insurance purposes, especially. Many people are only covered for a certain amount of sessions per month; those who go over that amount may receive some pretty shocking bills. Furthermore, determine whether or not you think you need the number of sessions suggested. For example, marriage counseling typically doesn’t require 4 sessions per week to start.

The RecoveryExperts advantages

RecoveryExperts gives you all the information you need to find the right therapist.

  • 50 States
  • 114 areas of Behavioral Health Issue
  • Detailed profiles including client reviews

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