May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health is more than just your current state of mind; it's your overall well-being and level of functioning. Mental health includes your thoughts, emotions, and your behaviors. It is important that no matter what age you are, that you are doing your best to take care of you.
If you are having difficulty taking care of your mental health and you would like to partner with someone to help you, finding a licensed therapist is a great start. Lisa Olivera once said, "Just because no one else can heal or do your inner work for you doesn't mean you can, should, or need to do it alone." There are plenty of licensed therapists that are available to help you find balance in your life and resume a healthy level of functioning. One just has to know where to look and what to look for. Below are just a few ways to find a therapist that is the right fit for you.
"Just because no one else can heal or do your inner work for you doesn't mean you can, should, or need to do it alone." - Lisa Olivera
1. Check Their Credentials
There are some different credentials to be mindful of when considering a therapist for your needs. The most common licenses are: Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), and Social Workers (LCSW). The education and training for each license is different and varies by state. Therapists should have their credentials listed or posted somewhere that is easily accessible (i.e. website, office, etc.). If you do not see a therapist's credentials listed, do not hesitate to ask them. You can also check their credentials on their state's website (it's public information) to ensure that their license is up-to-date and that they are able to practice.
2. Pay Attention to Their Specialties
A therapist is able to help with several different presenting problems, ranging from career counseling to grief. It is in their specialties, however, that they shine. When a therapist has chosen a specialty, they most likely have also received in depth training in that area as well. This helps them become more competent in that area, which also allows them to provide better informed care for you. There are so many different specialties, so it is important to consider what you have need of first before looking for a therapist.
Try searching on therapy directories where you can filter the results to only pull therapists that work with the specialty you want. Ex: If looking for a therapist that uses EMDR, filter your results to only show therapists that have that specialty.
3. Don't Skip the Consultation Calls
Even if you have searched for therapists in your area and you find one that you really like, try scheduling a consultation call before scheduling your first appointment. The consultation call allows you a chance to ask the therapist a few questions about their approach to therapy, what therapy might look like with them, their fees, their specialties, etc. It is much like a two-way interview. You are determining if the therapist is the right fit for you and, simultaneously, the therapist is determining if they are the best ones to help you. If you feel comfortable proceeding with that therapist, then you will agree upon a date and time for your first appointment. If you do not feel comfortable with that therapist or, if that therapist states that they are not the best fit for you, continue your search.
It's best to have your top five therapists' information just in case one is not a great fit for you or they are not accepting new clients at the time that you call.
4. Investment Accommodations
Therapy is most definitely an investment in yourself. It's an investment in improving the overall quality of your mental health. Some people invest in themselves by using their insurance, private pay, or pro bono counseling services.
If using your insurance, be sure to contact your provider so that you are aware of your mental health benefits through them. You may or may not be responsible for a co-pay when using this option.
If using private pay, there are no insurances involved and you will be responsible for the entire session amount. There may be a sliding scale (reduced fee) available if paying for sessions out of your pocket.
If you are needing to utilize pro bono services, you will have to meet certain criteria outlined by that therapist or practice. You also may be subject to a session limit (i.e. six maximum sessions allowed).
The investment portion of therapy has discouraged many from not seeking services, but it does not have to discourage you. Check to see which investment options are best for you and which therapist can accommodate that option.
Every therapist is an individual, and every therapist has their own way of providing services. You cannot change how a therapist provides care, but you can find one that provides care the way you want. Take the first step in improving the overall quality of your mental health: choosing to invest in yourself. Your mental health will thank you.
Bree Vanley is the CEO of Heart Matters Therapy, PLLC. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Arkansas and Texas, who focuses primarily on anxiety, depression, and trauma. She is committed to helping others become mentally, emotionally, and behaviorally healthy. For more information, please click here. You can also follow Heart Matters Therapy, PLLC on Facebook and Instagram.