When life concerns seem fairly typical and routine, it may not be all that difficult to find help. If it’s just a check-up that’s required, we often go to our insurer’s provider list and pick the closest general practitioner in-network.
But, what about when your needs are unique, complicated, or confusing? What if “treatment as usual” hasn’t brought desired results? Sometimes picking the most convenient provider from the top of the insurance list doesn’t get us what we need. When the stakes are high, it is important to get the best help available.
In the world of mental health care, finding a provider you really click with is of utmost importance. Research has shown that your relationship with your counselor is one of the most important factors in treatment success.
It is also very important to have a provider who understands your particular concerns and has experience treating them. Depression and anxiety are very common and most mental health practitioners get a lot of experience working with these disorders.
But some disorders are relatively rare and some concerns are highly sensitive, so it may be harder to locate a provider who has the experience and open-mindedness needed to effectively address them. In addition, some disorders have only one or two methods of treatment that have been supported by research. In that case it may be important for you to find a provider who is experienced with that particular form of treatment.
For adults, there are empirically supported treatments for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Chronic Pain, Depression, Eating Disorders, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Insomnia, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Schizophrenia, Social Phobia, Specific Phobias, and Substance Use Disorders. For children and adolescents there are empirically supported treatments for many of the same disorders as well as Disruptive Behavior Problems like Oppositional Defiant Disorder and Conduct Disorder.
Fortunately most mental health providers now have websites where you can read about their credentials, experience, and approach. Many of us maintain blogs where you can get to know our views and get a taste of what it might be like to work with us. Most of us are also willing to speak with you over the phone for a few minutes to introduce ourselves and answer your preliminary questions.
You can find mental health professionals in your area through any number of online therapist locators such as those hosted by the American Psychological Association, Psychology Today, Network Therapy and Good Therapy. Lower cost and subsidized services are also available for those with financial need, so no one should feel that professional help is beyond their reach.
Tracy Ochester, PsyD is a psychologist in independent practice in Leawood, KS. She specializes in cognitive behavior therapy, mindfulness informed practices, and psychodiagnostic testing. Dr. Ochester also teaches at the university level, supervises aspiring psychologists, and provides consultation services to the community.