More and more people are recognizing the physical and psychological benefits of ongoing therapy. However, the results you can expect from therapy depend on many factors, including your readiness and the therapist. We’re here to discuss how the therapist you choose affects your satisfaction. We’ll also review a few tips to help you choose the best one for your needs.
The mental health industry consists of various professionals, including psychologists, counselors, therapists, psychiatrists, and social workers. The different designations primarily refer to the therapist’s training. Most of the listed professionals can conduct therapy sessions, but you’ll notice a difference in how each structures their work. You may also notice that some therapists have extra training, which may be listed as a distinct certification. For example, a marital and family therapist (MFT) is specially trained to work with couples and families. A Masters Addictions Counselor (MAC) works with clients struggling with addiction.
Another key difference between the different therapist types is the theory that each integrates into their practice. Also referred to as schools of thought, the specific training of a therapist impacts the techniques and strategies they’ll use when working with you. One of the most common and empirically backed schools of thought is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on challenging and reshaping irrational thoughts. Other common schools of thought may include humanism, psychoanalysis, and Gestalt therapy.
Choosing a therapist near you offers many benefits. Even if you choose remote therapy, there may be times when you prefer to visit your therapist in person. Additionally, therapists must follow state laws and only work with clients where they’re licensed. This means it may be more difficult to find a therapist you like if you choose one out of state because if they don’t complete your state’s requirements, they can’t work with you. Of course, if you prefer to attend your sessions virtually, you’ll also want to consider a telehealth therapist. Not all therapists offer online appointments.
The best therapists in San Francisco tend to offer a good mix of appointment availability, including evenings, weekends, and virtual appointments. This allows them to reach the clients where they are and help them initiate change despite busy schedules. Additionally, some therapists offer a mixed schedule, meaning you can visit with them both in-person and online.
While mental health is a key part of your overall well-being, it’s not always included with health insurance. You may have to choose a specific therapist if you plan to use your insurance benefits for sessions. However, even if you don’t have health insurance, affordable options may be available. Many therapists today offer rolling payments, which means you pay what you can afford. Telehealth appointments can also help cut back on travel expenses or childcare needs, helping to make counseling more affordable.
Essentially, it’s important to discuss your financial hesitations with your therapist. They may be able to help you explore other options that ensure you still receive the mental health care you need. Of course, you can also talk with your health insurance provider to find out exactly what therapy services are covered.
Many new therapy clients are surprised to learn that their therapist can’t prescribe medications. Since therapy is primarily about talking and reworking thought patterns or finding motivation, medication isn’t always a necessity. However, some conditions may benefit from both talk therapy and pharmaceuticals and while your therapist may not be able to be the one who prescribes it, they can likely refer you out to someone who can. If you choose to take medications for anxiety, depression, or any other mental health disorder, your therapist and prescribing physician must work together on the same team.
Some therapy clients are hesitant to choose a therapist because they consider it a long-term commitment. It’s important to note that you’re allowed to change therapists. You should choose a therapist you’re comfortable with that works with your schedule and financial needs. You should also eventually notice progress toward your goals, and if you don’t, it may be worth trying with a different therapist.
Of course, discussing your concerns with your therapist may also help you uncover valuable information about yourself. But, if you and your therapist decide that further improvement is unlikely, you can change therapists. Some people may also find that their therapist needs change throughout life. The therapist you see as a young adult may no longer be the best option after you’re married and seeking couples therapy.
You’ll rely on your therapist to better understand yourself and make progress toward your short and long-term goals. The therapy-client relationship is intimate and important, meaning finding the right one is essential. Keep these thoughts in mind as you begin your search for your ideal therapist.
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