How to Choose a Therapist/Psychiatrist

I have often been asked how one should choose a psychiatrist or therapist. Many people start with their insurance companies. They want to see someone who is covered by their insurance. Sometimes this leaves few choices. Also, most psychiatrists who take insurance, do not do their own therapy. Hence, there is a team approach to the patient with a psychiatrist and a therapist. It’s important not only to get a sense of the individuals on your team, but it’s also important to evaluate how well they communicate with one another. Do they even know each other? Do they collaborate often? I have had the privilege to work with therapists before, and even with the best ones I often wonder if I’m getting a full sense of the patient. I decided to do my own therapy in part, so I can gain a deeper understanding of my patient and have multiple modalities to treat them (such as psychodynamic psychotherapy and medication). This is something to consider, hiring a team psychiatrist/therapist or one person who is both.

Years ago, a colleague of mine said, “therapists are like pants, you have to try them on to see if they fit”. Let’s give this some thought. It is common for a patient and therapist to meet more than once, perhaps even 3 months, to see if they make a good fit. Patients should feel comfortable to try the therapy out, before committing to one therapist or another. This is important for children as well. Many children are forced to see a therapist by their parents or other adults who care about them. It may take a few sessions just to break the ice. Sometimes it takes longer. In addition, when finding the right therapist for your child, a parent must also have a good fit with that therapist. The parent must feel at ease and free from judgment when they discuss their anxieties and behaviors toward their child. If it doesn’t feel right, go with your gut feeling. You should feel at ease and safe. If you also feel relieved, and have a sense of hope at your first meeting, than that is a good sign.

Don’t feel bad for rejecting a therapist on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, age or any of the therapists characteristics. Let me tell you why. Let’s consider those individuals who have experienced trauma. It may be very difficult for these people to even be alone in the room with a therapist, as they are a stranger. Many times, someone who has been traumatized will have fears with any provider. However, it may be helpful for them to see someone less threatening. For example, children or adults who have been sexually abused may feel more at ease with a therapist of the opposite sex than their abuser. This goes for race, age and ethnicity too. They may all be capable of treating you, but the brain has primitive parts. When it’s traumatized, it may be fearful of anything that reminds it of the trauma. It’s important to listen to your gut feeling. Although characteristics of the provider may help or inhibit the bond between the therapist and patient, they at least have to have a beginning.

It is important to have a good connection between therapist and patient. You are not a diagnosis. Each patient is unique, and the therapist should understand you or your child on a deeper level. The relationship is not a friendship. They are the tool to make you better. Your therapist and you have a common goal. You each come to the understanding of what you are there to do and why.

There is no "right" or "wrong" way to choose a therapist. Find what works best for you.

#therapist #connection #children #child #relationship

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