Mental Health Counseling is something I undertook on a regular basis as long as I can remember. I am a child of two schizophrenic parents. I grew up in an institution being afraid of everything, especially when my mother came to visit. So the institution hired a mental health professional for me. Throughout my life I struggled with depression, anxiety, self-doubt, guilt, postpartum depression and whatever else mental health professional wanted to diagnose me with. My marriage was also in trouble here and there. As the wife of an U.S. soldier, I moved constantly and it was a pain to constantly seek out the right therapist.
Often I just stopped because I felt like I wasn’t helped. Maybe my experience can aid you to find the right match for you.
1. Find a therapist of the same sex as you.
I often had male therapists. And after a couple sessions I sometimes thought that the therapist was trying to hit on me. Maybe in my time of need I confused signals. Whether I confused the signals or the therapist indeed attended to hit on me didn’t make a difference. It either made the situation very uncomfortable or I tried to manipulate the session to my advantage so the therapist will think the best of me. It was also difficult to share my intimidate thoughts. If you are having marriage problems, then it is definitely not good to seek someone from the opposite sex because in your fantasy the therapist will always be nicer and a better listener than your husband.
2. The right therapist should fit your budget.
After I left my institution in Germany and I was on my own, I didn’t know where to go for help after several friends suggested that I needed help. I found one in town who was licensed, but suggested a donation to the Red Cross. I was so happy that I could pay what I wanted and she was helpful. Your mental health should not be taken lightly, but it also should not break your budget. If you cannot afford counseling by a particular therapist, see if they can help you or if there are any solutions so you can pay your therapist.
3. The right therapist should have either experience or good credentials.
If your friend, relative or coworker can point you to a good therapist, then I definitely would check this person out especially if you know they helped your friend. If you don’t have that luxury make sure that the therapist is experienced. Check out his/ her website. Ask him/her for references and if he/she helps you give him references. Not everyone is willing to discuss their mental health issues. I checked out the Christian Phonebook to find one at one point, but the guy was of little help and I quit.
4. The right therapist should know the balance between medications and just talk therapy.
When I got to the states I was prescribed Zoloft and Paxil as soon as I walked in the office. I hated taking that and then I quit. It turns out that everyone got the same medication prescribed by those certain doctors. A couple years ago I felt like I really needed medication and the guy just proclaimed that I was fine because he was against it. Your therapist should not have a strong feeling about it either way and help you to determine what is best for you.
5. The right therapist should be able to provide you with strategies to help you in your daily struggles.
During my crisis a couple years ago I always felt really good when I could talk to my therapist. That hour was the highlight of my week. I talked and vented. He listened. I felt safe. But he never gave me any strategies to deal with acute anxiety at home. So during an anxiety attack away from therapy I felt left alone and frightful without any means to combat it successfully. I don’t’ want to be dependent on a therapist I want to find means to battle it myself when anxiety strikes.
6. Finally, the right therapist doesn’t judge, doesn’t assume and doesn’t tell you what to do.
People make mistakes and nobody is in your shoes. I was glad that I could share one of my deepest struggles with one of my therapists and there was no reaction, no judgment whatsoever. It made me see it for what it was. I was free to make my own guilt free decisions regarding this issue. Ensure your therapist doesn’t have prejudice, pre-convinced ideas about certain life styles, gender issues or relationship.