How to Choose the Right Therapist

Article excerpt

Dear Open Mind: What is the best way to choose a mental health care provider, particularly regarding anxiety and cognitive therapy? One hesitates to just pluck one from the Yellow Pages.

One resource you can use when choosing a therapist is your insurance company. Many companies have their mental health coverage managed by agencies that specialize in this field. These agencies "profile" mental health providers, making sure that they have the appropriate credentials, such as licensure for practicing in their respective states and proof of their education. Many times these agencies also list the mental health providers' practice specialties and their appointment availability.

Another good set of resources is the various mental health referral phone lines. The persons who staff these phones can refer you to a therapist who can best meet your needs based on the information obtained from you. They also have knowledge of therapists' usual fees and can tell you which ones charge a nominal fee if you do not have insurance or mental health coverage. Once you choose a therapist, be sure you feel comfortable and open to him or her. Not all therapists are going to be a "fit" with your personality, and sometimes their methods do not suit your unique needs. Tell your therapist if you feel things are not working out. Professionals are understanding. Then, he or she can refer you to a therapist who may better meet your needs. Don't judge the value of therapy until you find a therapist who is a good match for you. Jackie Gilliland, LCSW Manager, Central Intake SSM Behavioral Medicine St. …