Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy Tuesday, bebehs!

I've managed to recover, for the most part, from my bout of snark & fear regarding $$ and insurance douchebags. Of course, a clinical supervision group that you've been working with for the past four years that loves you and supports you always helps! :) But truth be told, not all my posts can be sunshine, puppydogs and ice cream cones. It's not me...I am a wounded healer. What makes me good at what I do are my experiences battling depression and anxiety in my own life. That being said, I borrowed this from a blog that I've been following..it's from Dr. Aletta, and her blog is found here.

I thought this article was an awesome resource. I'm adding my two cents in italics where I feel so inclined!!

10 Ways to Find a Good Therapist

2558420993_6a732b1b72 When we want to improve our bodies we pretty much know where to find help. This time of year the gyms are full and the meeting rooms at Weight Watchers are packed. But what do we do when we want to improve our inner selves, our relationships, to find help with depression or anxiety?

I want to assist you to find the right therapist because making the decision to find help is hard enough. Why should you have to get even more stressed out hunting for the right therapist? I can only imagine it's like searching for a needle in a haystack. So here are a few tips:

1) Forget the yellow pages. A yellow pages listing is expensive so a lot of good people aren't there. I'm not. Plus there is no regulation of who can list. I'm not in the yellow pages for this reason :)

2) Ask a professional you already work with and trust. Your accountant, lawyer, dentist, physician – any professional you have a relationship with who honors your confidentiality is a good resource. These people all run businesses as well as provide services, as do many psychotherapists in private practice. They are well connected in the community and refer to each other all the time.

By the way, when asking anyone for a referral to a mental health therapist you do not have to go into the details of why you're looking for a someone unless you want to. It's enough just to say, "I'm having some problems and I'd like to consult a therapist about it. Do you recommend anyone?"

3) Ask friends or family members if they can recommend someone.

In my experience, the word of family or friends can be paramount in helping you find a good therapist.

4) Use a known therapist as a resource. If you have a friend or a friend's friend who's a therapist, ask them. Therapists refer to one another all the time. They will understand that you don't want to see them (for whatever reason, you don't have to say) but you want a recommendation from them. In other words, even if it doesn't feel right going to your sister's therapist, if your sister really likes her therapist he or she could probably give you a couple of names of good, qualified therapists in the community. Tru dat!!!

5) Use resources at work. Many places of employment have what's called an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). These services might be in-house or out-sourced but the purpose of EAPs is to provide emotional support and counseling for employees in complete privacy and as part of the employee's benefit package. EAPs are often part of the Human Resource department so ask there if your company has an EAP and how to access it. Usually you would see a counselor at the EAP for a set number of sessions (no charge to you) and if you want to continue they will refer to a therapist in the community who will take your insurance. I do a lot a LOT of work with Employee Assistance Programs. Most people don't realize that they can receive therapy for FREE through their employer. Also, just because you utilize the EAP through your work, it doesn't mean that SuzieSnobbyPants, your office mate, will find out that you saw a therapist. Therapeutic relationships are private and confidential.

6) Schools and Universities are resources. Your child's school is likely to have a school counselor or nurse and that person knows therapists in your district to refer you or your child to, if that is what's needed. Universities and colleges are investing more and more in their campus mental health services. Counseling Centers (often part of Health Services under the Student Affairs department) on campus have qualified psychologists and social workers on stand-by to help with a wide range of situations for current students. Like EAPs, if you need longer term services beyond what they can provide they will see to it that you are linked properly for your continuity of care. As an alum you should be able to access the counseling center as a resource for a referral.

7) Use your insurance company. You may be lucky and have an insurance company with a truly helpful customer service department. If they do their job right, they should be able to suggest therapists who participate on their panel (which means they have been vetted from here to eternity for all the right credentials) and who specialize in what you need. As much as they piss me off, many people find their way to me through the help of their insurance panels.

8) Use the Internet. The difference between the web and the yellow pages is that, for the therapist, listing on reliable websites is not nearly as expensive AND reliable sites require a minimum of professional qualifications to be listed. Psychology Today probably has the most comprehensive listing in the US. They contract with other trustworthy sites like WebMD and iVillage to provide their list to them. A therapist can't be listed on PT unless they can prove they have a legitimate advanced degree in their discipline and an up to date professional license or certification.

A good listing on PT provides you with information regarding the professional's qualifications, what areas of expertise they may have, how long they've been in practice. They should also have practical stuff posted like phone numbers, where their office is located, office hours and whether or not they accept your insurance if that is important to you. Here's my listing as an example.

Do not look for a therapist on craigslist! TRU DAT!!

9) Do a Google search. Once you have a few names go ahead and google them. If they have a blog or a website, explore them. Often you can get a sense of who they are by what they write or what is written about them. Just keep in mind that many good, well-qualified therapists are not on the web. Not finding them there is not a reason to rule them out. I haz a website, it needs to be updated but I haz one. It's here.

10) Don't limit yourself. Don't set limits on yourself unnecessarily by title or by logistics. I refer to as many social workers as I do psychologists. Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT's) are new to New York but in California, where they've been on the scene for some time, I know several who are excellent counselors. Studies show that once core requirements are met, the effectiveness of a therapist is not dictated by what advanced degree they have.

Skype and telephone. If you live in an area where, as hard as you've tried, you can't find a professional locally to help you, you can always turn to tele-sessions using the telephone or Skype. While Skype counseling is a specialized service on the cutting edge, there are therapists world-wide providing on-line counseling. Skype sessions are available to anyone anywhere as long as the technology is available and a common language is spoken. This service has been a particular boon to Americans over-seas who crave counseling from a familiar voice stateside. While I understand the reasoning behind Skype and phone sessions, I only offer phone sessions to people I've been working with for a while in person because there's a rapport built. A lot can get lost via phone or skype with regards to emotions, I'm just sayin'!

One last thought in your search for a therapist: Try to gather at least two or three names from any given source. That way you can cross-reference, and have choices if one doesn't work out, moved out of town, retired or one just doesn't suit you. You have a right, even a responsibility to yourself, to be picky.

One other thing to add: Whenever I sit with people for the first time, I tell them that I'm inherently human. This means that your friends may love me but if you aren't comfortable here, that's okay. Not every recommendation will translate into a great fit. If you sit with someone and the vibe is off, it's okay to go see someone else.

all right, that's all I've got for a Tuesday, Fru-out!


loonyhiker said...

This was a great post. Both my daughters were diagnosed as bipolar when they were in their teens. We have been through the route of finding a good professional. You give great advice and I wholeheartedly agree. Sometimes you have to shop for one that you feel comfortable with and a good one understands this and doesn't mind. The ones I didn't feel comfortable with are the ones who minded so I'm glad I didn't stick with them because I would have had trouble trusting them. Thanks for posting this valuable info.

Shevon said...

Thanks for posting this. It came at a really great time for me.