For many people, psychotherapy can be a life-changing experience. Therapy can help you overcome a variety of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, trauma, eating disorders, family problems, stress, and substance abuse. Therapy can also help you develop communication skills, parenting skills, stress management skills, relationship skills, and a variety of other coping skills. In order to maximize the benefits of therapy, it is important to find both the right type of treatment and the right type of therapist. To help with this process, we have listed some steps you can take to find a therapist.
Identify your goals for therapy
To find the right therapist, it is helpful to have clarity about the goals that you want to accomplish while in therapy. For example, if you want to develop a better relationship with your spouse, then a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist may be the best choice. The more clarity you have about your goals, the easier it is to find a therapist that can help you reach your goals.
Identify the types of treatment that are available in your area
- Individual Psychotherapy – In individual psychotherapy, a person usually meets weekly with a mental health professional to work through their concerns or problems. Some of the areas most frequently addressed in individual psychotherapy include depression, anxiety, PTSD, anger issues, stress management, and relationship problems.
- Couples Therapy – In marriage/couples therapy, a person and their partner usually meet weekly with a therapist. The focus of treatment is often to learn more effective communication and conflict resolution skills. Therapy may also focus on healing old wounds, including past infidelity.
- Family Therapy – A family therapist often works with the entire family. The focus of treatment is often on changing the way the family system functions and on improving communication and developing conflict resolution skills. Therapy usually is done weekly but can be more or less frequent depending on the severity of the problems.
- Group Therapy – Group therapy allows an individual to interact with other people who may be experiencing similar problems. These groups are typically led by therapists who have specific clinical expertise and who have specialized training in group therapy. For example, a therapist who specializes in eating disorders may lead a group that focuses on developing healthy eating habits.
- Medication Management – Medication management is typically provided by a psychiatrist. The focus of medication management is often to help stabilize a person’s mood. Treatment sessions typically are brief and are geared specifically to medication issues.
- Detox – Detox services can occur on either an outpatient or inpatient basis. Detox is typically monitored by mental health and/or medical professionals and is geared toward helping a person withdraw from alcohol and/or other substances.
- Intensive Outpatient Treatment – If once-per-week therapy is not enough, Intensive Outpatient Treatment might be appropriate. This therapy is usually done in an outpatient setting. People typically attend between 3 to 5 days per week for around 3 hours per day.
- Partial Hospitalization – This type of treatment is also usually done in an outpatient setting. Individuals usually attend 5 days per week for around 6 hours per day. This treatment is usually geared toward individuals who are in crisis and need more intensive treatment.
- Psychiatric Hospitalization – When someone is at risk of hurting themselves or others, inpatient treatment may be necessary. This type of treatment is typically short-term and is geared toward helping an individual stabilize.
- Inpatient Rehab – This treatment is geared toward individuals who are struggling with addiction and who need an environment that restricts their access to drugs and/or alcohol. Treatment may be anywhere between 3 weeks and 3 years or longer, depending on the severity of the addiction.
- Residential Treatment – This treatment is usually geared toward individuals who need a restrictive environment to help them overcome their mental and behavioral health issues. This type of treatment is most frequently geared toward adolescents who need longer-term treatment.
Identify the types of therapists in your area
Finding a therapist who is licensed in your state ensures that you will be working with someone who has a specific level of education and training. In Texas, the most common licensed mental health professionals are:
- Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (LCDC) – A Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor is licensed by the State of Texas to provide chemical dependency counseling. These counselors receive specialized training in the treatment of individuals and families that are trying to overcome problems related to alcohol and drug abuse. Counselors with only the LCDC are limited to providing treatment for substance abuse and are not able to provide mental health therapy.
- Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) – A Licensed Clinical Social Worker is licensed by the State of Texas to provide therapy for individuals and families with mental health problems. (Some clinicians with this license are listed as LMSW or LCSW.) They typically have a minimum of a Master’s Degree in Social Work. These therapists work with a variety of problems, including mental health, substance abuse, couples, and family problems.
- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) – A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist is licensed by the State of Texas to provide marriage and family therapy. These therapists typically have a minimum of a Master’s Degree and receive specialized training in working with couples, families, and systems. These therapists work with individuals who struggle with a variety of problems, including mental health, substance abuse, couples, and family problems.
- Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) – A Licensed Professional Counselor is licensed by the State of Texas to provide therapy services to both individuals and families. These therapists typically have a minimum of a Master’s Degree and receive a variety of training in the treatment of mental health issues. They work with a variety of problems including mental health, substance abuse, couples, and family problems.
- Psychologist (Ph.D.) – A Psychologist is licensed by the State of Texas to provide therapy services to individuals, couples, and families. They have a Doctor of Psychology. In addition to providing therapy services to people with mental health and substance abuse issues, many psychologists also provide a variety of psychological testing services.
- Psychiatrists (MD) – A Psychiatrist is a licensed Medical Doctor who specializes in the treatment of mental disorders. Psychiatrists are licensed to prescribe medications for their clients. While psychiatrists can provide therapy services to their clients, most focus primarily on medication management and prefer to refer their clients to other professionals for therapy.
Locate therapists in your area who have expertise that can help you reach your goals.
Remember that while most therapists work with a variety of issues, many develop expertise in specific areas. When seeking a therapist, it is often helpful to ask them about their experience in working with your types of issues.
Find a therapist that you have a connection with.
Not every therapist will be a match for you. Even if a therapist has enormous experience and expertise in working with your types of issues, it doesn’t mean that you will automatically connect with them. Each therapist has their own unique personality, training, and approach to treatment. To maximize the benefit of therapy, it is important to find someone that you feel comfortable working with.
Tips for finding the right therapist:
- Ask trusted family and friends for recommendations.
- Check with your insurance company regarding their list of approved providers.
- Internet searches can provide useful insight into a therapist’s areas of expertise.
- The state licensing boards often provide lists of therapists that are currently licensed in your state.
- When you have found a preliminary list of possible therapists, call them to learn more about their practice and areas of expertise.
New Dimensions Can Help!
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the above symptoms or problems, New Dimensions can help. Our team of experienced therapists and psychiatrists can help you overcome these challenges and help you develop the skills you need to thrive. To schedule a complementary assessment or to find out more about our programs, contact us at 1-800-685-9796.
Our affiliate, MHThrive, provides Individual Therapy, Couples and Marriage Counseling, and Family Therapy at our locations in Katy, The Woodlands, and the Clear Lake area of Houston, Texas. We also provide telehealth therapy for anyone who resides within the State of Texas. To schedule an appointment with one of the MHThrive therapists, contact us at 713-477-0333 or visit www.mhthrive.com to learn more.