How to find the right type of therapy for you
Seeing a mental health professional can help you better understand and manage your feelings, change negative behaviors to positive ones, and improve your well-being. With many different types of therapies and therapists out there, it can feel overwhelming trying to determine what you need. Here’s how to find the right type of therapy for you.
What to Consider When Looking for Therapy
When looking to start therapy, there are several factors to consider to help you find the therapy and therapist that’s right for you.
Know What’s Important to You
Think about the characteristics in a therapist that would make you feel more comfortable or understood. For example, would you prefer to see a therapist of a specific gender? What about having shared cultural practices or experiences? For example, if you’re in the LGBTQ community, would you feel more comfortable with a therapist who is as well and can understand from first-hand experience what that’s like? Would you prefer in-person sessions or telehealth appointments? These are all questions to ask yourself when thinking about what’s important to you. It’s also worth noting that some therapists allow you to schedule an “interview” with them to see if they’re a good fit for you.
Know Your Goals for Therapy
Think about what you want to accomplish in therapy. Some types of therapy involve mostly talking, while other types of therapy are more action oriented. Different therapists may also specialize in addressing different issues or concerns. Knowing your goals can help you choose a type of therapy and a therapist that will help you achieve them.
Different Types of Mental Health Providers
There are many types of mental health providers. Each provider has their own style and preferred modalities (therapy methods), and it can be helpful to choose a provider who is experienced in your areas of concern or preferred methods.
- Therapist: A therapist is trained in providing therapy and understands how different modalities might work for different people. Some examples of therapists include behavioral therapists, addiction therapists, family therapists, and therapists who provide marriage counseling.
- Psychiatrist: A psychiatrist typically doesn’t provide much counseling. Instead, they usually perform an assessment, understand your symptoms, and write prescriptions.
- Psychologist: A psychologist can evaluate your mental health using testing, psychological evaluations, and clinical interviews. They can diagnose you as well as provide therapy.
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker: A licensed clinical social worker is a type of therapist that is trained in advocacy and case management services.
- Licensed Professional Counselor: A licensed professional counselor focuses on specific issues and teaches individual skills.
Different Types of Therapy
There are many types of therapy, and the one that’s right for you depends on your needs and preferences. Four common types of therapy include:
- Talk Therapy: Talk therapy, also called psychotherapy, is a good option if you need to process feelings before you’re ready to take action. You will talk with a therapist, who will help you understand what you’re feeling and why as well as teach coping skills.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a good option when you’re ready to change your behavior. Your therapist will teach you how to identify your negative thoughts, challenge those thoughts, and replace negative thoughts and behavior with positive ones.
- Humanistic Therapy: Humanistic therapy focuses on helping you reach your full potential and becoming your best self by helping you make the right choices and eliminate limiting beliefs.
- Integrative Therapy: Integrative therapy is a holistic approach in which a therapist combines multiple types of therapy and techniques. Treatment is customized to address your specific needs.
How to Find Therapy
Once you have an idea of what you want, there are several ways to find a therapist. You can search online for a therapist near you or one that specializes in a specific issue. If you have health insurance, your company may offer a database of therapists and other resources. If you have friends who are in therapy, you might ask them for recommendations.
Important Reminders for Your Therapy Journey
Starting therapy can be an important step in improving your mental health and overall well-being. Here are a few tips to keep in mind during your time in therapy.
Results Take Time
Therapy likely won’t feel comfortable right away, and you may not notice a drastic change in your life right away. Give it time. Ask yourself if you’re resisting therapy, and approach therapy with an open mind.
You Can Switch to a Different Therapist
You are not stuck with the first provider you see. If you don’t feel safe or if your personalities don’t mesh, you can always see a different therapist. If your needs or goals aren’t being met, don’t be afraid to have a conversation with your therapist about how to change the approach or possibly switch therapists. Your current therapist may even have a recommendation for a colleague who’s better suited to your needs.
Needs Can Change
Your needs may change as you go through therapy, resolve issues, and have new experiences. It’s ok if what worked well before stops being as effective. A different therapist or a different type of therapy may be necessary to address these new needs. Remember that direct communication is not conflict – it’s good to vocalize what you need.
Get Help During a Crisis
If you experience a mental health or behavioral health crisis, get help immediately. Don’t wait for your next appointment with your therapist. Instead, find a local urgent psychiatric center or crisis response center (you can find a Connections Health Solutions center here), contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, or call 911.