If you’re new to therapy or mental health services, and are wondering how to find a great therapist, what to expect and what you deserve, the answers are simple. Mental health services are made for you, and you alone. They are set up for you as an individual to be able to express your story, feelings, pain and the way you experience a situation, in a free and non judgmental atmosphere with people who are trained to help. It is a therapist or mental health professional’s job to challenge you to examine your feelings, past, history, story, traumas, relationships and more, in order to make choices that work for you and your life. To learn how to find the people who will give you the mental health services that you deserve, read on.
Client-Driven Therapeutic Modalities
In therapy, there are two schools of thinking. There are those modern therapists who are trained to believe that they have the answers, and that clients come to them for those answers. These therapists lead by telling clients how to live their best lives. They will often put their own world views on any situation you come to them with. These therapists, while they have their uses (as some people prefer straight answers), are becoming less and less common. The second approach which most counselors take is called ‘client-driven.’ If you’re looking for a gentle entrance into mental health services, this is probably a better place to start. The great news is that this modality is more common with issues of social justice and own voices more popular than ever before.
Maybe you live in New York City and have been feeling down as a result of the social distancing and regulations that were made to fight the pandemic, but have also changed your lifestyle. If you feel socially isolated and are working from home for the first time ever, it might be a good idea to give therapists a call, after finding them through a search like “NYC therapy.” When you make this initial call, ask what kind of therapeutic modality your potential therapist will use. Ask if it’s client-focused, if that’s the road you plan to choose.
Knowing the type of therapy your psychologist believes in ahead of time will be critical to the therapeutic relationship. If you aren’t sure if you and your therapist will click, don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and spell out your needs. Saying something like “I want you to let me speak for myself and not make choices for me” is not wrong. Neither is directly telling them that you need a therapist comfortable with alternative lifestyles, polyamorous relationships, or whatever your concerns may be. In making your fears, concerns and boundaries known, you’ll be more likely to be assigned to a good match for you .
Acceptance of Spirituality
Like the way you’ll want to advocate for yourself when you set your first appointment up, you’ll also want mental health services that make sense, in that your therapist needs specialty training in certain areas. Maybe you’re a stage iv breast cancer warrior and have weekly cancer treatment in Holmdel, NJ. Maybe your concern is risk factors from an upcoming clinical trial and you already have an anxiety diagnosis. Maybe the only thing that’s pulled you through so far is the close connection to your church support group. If this is the case, you want a therapist who is trained in spirituality. That is, if your goal is incorporating religion into your treatment plan, you have a right to ask for someone who’ll not only support that, but know how to do it well.
Think about your lifestyle, choices, and the things that matter most to you. Maybe you’re in the LGBTQ community and need help dealing with family who won’t accept you or use the proper pronouns. You can ask for an LGBTQ-friendly therapist and probably should. While you can expect that any mental health professional will be accepting of any lifestyle, that’s not the same as them understanding the intricacies of relationship dynamics. For this reason, it’s important to find the right clinician for you.
In the end, your ability to be transparent from the beginning will give you a better shot at being able to expect even more from your mental health services. You might even want your therapist to be transparent with you, too. Set these expectations ahead.
The same way you’d take care to find the right urologist, dermatologist, or tumor surgeon, do your research on mental health centers and private practices for the best results. There’s a great match out there for you, ready and waiting to help. Congratulations on taking the first step toward healing.