Choosing a Therapist
Some questions you may want to consider are:
What is your educational and training background?
Do you have experience treating the kind of problem I have?
Not all therapists can treat all problems. Sometimes a therapist specializes in certain areas. If the therapist's area of expertise is not the one you are looking for, ask for a referral to a therapist who can best help you. You will need to briefly indicate the problems you are experiencing (eg. marital difficulties, stress, anxiety at work etc).
How much do you charge and what is your method of payment?
Would you be covered under my employment insurance policy or any other plan?
Some employers, typically the larger ones, have extended health benefits that cover some counseling. Read the fine print carefully. Sometimes MFTs are covered, sometimes they are not. A number of larger companies have employee assistance plans (EAP's) that do cover MFTs. Again, check a carefully with your employer's human resources or personnel department. Although the therapist may not know the answer off hand (as there are many policies and they keep changing) he/she should be able to guide you to find out the information you seek. As well, some employers or insurance companies will add a particular therapist or professional therapy designation to their list of those who are covered if employees make the request.
Where are the sessions held and what is the length of time of a session?
After you have had a brief conversation based on the above questions you should have a "feel" for this therapist. If you feel fairly positive, proceed with booking an appointment. If you don't feel comfortable for any reason, interview some one else.
Therapies are generally divided into the following approaches:
This type of therapy looks to replace harmful behaviors with useful ones, and is often used in coordination with cognitive therapy, which is aimed at helping people recognize and alter distorted ways of thinking.
Humanistic and Experiential Therapies
These therapies are based on the theory that people are growing and self-actualizing. Experiential therapists use emotionally-charged, experience-based techniques to effect change, while humanistic therapists concentrate on creating a safe place for the patient.
Psychoanalytic and Psychodynamic Therapies
These therapies explore unconscious conflicts and defense mechanisms that hinder adult behavior.
Family Therapy or Family Systems Therapy
This type of therapy is concerned with looking at the dynamics of relationships within the family unit.
There are also different categories of mental health professionals:
Psychiatrists--physicians who have completed a residency in psychiatry and are the only mental health professionals licensed to prescribe medications.
Psychoanalysts--therapists with a professional degree in psychiatry, psychology or social work, plus extensive supervised training.
Psychologists (PhD, DPsy, DEd)--licensed professionals who have typically completed a clinical internship.
Certified or licensed social workers--therapists who have a master's degree and two years of supervised, postgraduate experience. Marriage and family therapists may have a master's or doctorate degree as well as supervised experience in the field. Note that while psychoanalysts are usually only trained in psychoanalysis, psychologists and social workers usually have training in several of the therapies discussed above.
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