Finding the Right Therapist for Me
Starting therapy can be an exciting process. However, when you’re searching for somebody to help you, you will come across different mental health professionals, and you may not know which one to choose. When I was trying to find a clinician to help me manage depression and anxiety I noticed there were people with varying degrees of education. Some of them had PhDs, and some of them didn’t have any letters in front of their names at all. Some practitioners identified as therapists while others referred to themselves as psychologists.
It was confusing to figure out who was the right person to help me. Did it matter whether they had a master’s degree or not? I couldn’t seem to figure that out. I was inclined to choose somebody with a higher level of education, but I didn’t know if that was as important as the relationship that I had with that person.
In finding the right individual to help me, I talked to many people on the phone who identified themselves as mental health professionals. I think being a competent therapist is subjective. Therapy is a results-oriented profession.
As I started therapy, I asked myself, “Am I getting better?” As a client, when you notice your life moving in a positive direction, and you’re in therapy, chances are you have a therapist who is helping you. Your quality of life improves, and you’re able to function better. That is because not only do you have a good therapist but also you are doing the work required to make your life better.
Getting the most out of therapy isn’t necessarily about the credentials of the therapist, but if you are looking for specific forms of treatment, it likely requires specific certifications, and it would be best to find somebody who has those qualifications so you are receiving adequate treatment.
From my experience, it’s more about my connection with the therapist rather than the letters in front of their name. I’ve seen LCSWs who are great at their jobs. I’ve seen people with PhDs who were caring and supportive and ones who did not help me whatsoever. The relationship with my therapist means more to me than what educational status they have.
You might feel differently. Maybe it is important for your mental health practitioner to have a higher level of education. Something that might be helpful is to make a list of what is important to you in a therapist. Once you have your list of priorities, you will be better able to figure out who you should choose to help you. The right person is out there, and you can find them.
Getty image by monkeybusinessimages.