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How To Choose the Right Therapist


Have you ever felt overwhelmed by your life and thought that only a professional could help you move ahead? In such a scenario, you might be in the market for a therapist who can help you untangle life’s knots. 


But you might have heard that there are psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and more that are referred to as therapists. In this article, we will look into what a therapist is and how to choose the one that suits you the best.


Differences between a psychiatrist and a psychologist


While both professionals aim to treat the mental health of a person, there are distinct differences between a psychiatrist and a psychologist. 


Severity of mental illness: Usually, psychiatrists treat people with advanced mental health issues because they are licensed to prescribe medication and can work closely with neurologists to ensure a detailed prognosis. It is also because they hold a medical degree, which makes them better equipped to handle severe mental illness. 


Education: A psychiatrist is a registered medical doctor with a related or unrelated specialization, unlike a psychologist who holds degrees in psychotherapy and behavioral sciences. 


Method of Treatment: Psychologists use the talking cure method to explore the origin of their patient’s mental health issues. They focus on psychotherapy to resolve issues, after conducting a detailed psychoanalysis. Psychiatrists use medication along with psychotherapy to ensure their patients do better in their lives. 





If you are diagnosed with a severe mental illness, it is best to get a treatment by a psychiatrist until the condition is manageable. To ensure you are doing well, to resolve deeper issues in the long term, and to prevent a relapse, you can see a psychologist. 



What is psychotherapy?


The process of using psychoanalysis to diagnose and address mental health issues is called psychotherapy. This involves using conversation to explore the problems that a patient is facing in their life. This helps them overcome the issues through mutual discussion. 


In all these types of therapies, it is essential to understand that emotions exist for a reason, so don’t shy away from feeling them, especially if they are new. Only after you feel your emotions and realize what they are will you be able to process them. If you throttle every new emotion even before you feel it, you will experience confusion and the feeling of being lost.


After you have felt your emotions as they are, you can make an informed decision on how to process them. Sometimes you will need to feel a negative emotion, even if it feels bad initially, to understand what it is and what caused such an emotion. 


Talking is used as the main tool to analyze thoughts, behaviors, and emotions to help resolve any issues an individual might have. 





Sigmund Freud, an Austrian neurologist, is widely recognized as the creator of the psychoanalytic method. He came up with a model for analyzing human behavior and thought patterns and using this tool to treat people with mental illness.


Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist, is another notable name in the field of mental health and the founder of analytical psychology. Jung was an associate of Freud, and both of these figures have contributed considerably to modern psychoanalysis.


Types of therapy


When you decide to go to a mental health professional, you can ask what therapy the professional will be using to treat you. Each form of therapy is designed to address mental health issues in a particular way that is distinct from the others in one or more ways. 


Here are some types of therapy your therapist might use to treat you:


Cognitive Behavioural therapy


Here, the professional will help the patient identify harmful thought patterns that lead to negative emotions and behavior. By disrupting the cycle of negative thought patterns that lead to unwanted behaviors, you can change your behavior for the better.


While it may sound simple enough on paper, the challenge is identifying the negative thought patterns that trigger unwanted behaviors. This therapy, when implemented correctly, can lead to long-lasting positive effects for the patient.


The patient will be able to anticipate destructive thought patterns and build a more positive and productive thought pattern. 


As mentioned before, to make full use of this therapy approach, you will need to experience the emotion you are feeling in its entirety before you can learn how to manage it. 





Psychodynamic therapy



Exposure therapy

This is a particularly intriguing form of CBT that involves helping the patient face their fear in a safe environment. The fear can be of a particular thing, a person,or even a concept.


Direct contact (in-vivo exposure), imagining the feared thing (imaginal exposure), and bringing in feared physical sensations (interoceptive exposure) are different ways to implement exposure therapy. 


By introducing the patient to the thing they fear gradually and in a controlled environment, the therapist can help the patient overcome their fear. 


Couples therapy


Therapy need not be a one-on-one affair. If you want to resolve issues with your significant other or a close family member, a therapist can mediate controlled communication between the two parties.


The therapist can analyze the relationship between the two people from an objective viewpoint and, therefore, offer resolutions that could work for both parties involved.  


Stigma around psychotherapy


Mental health wellness is a new concept to most of the world, but especially so in developing countries. Since the citizens of such a nation are new to the whole concept, it is bound to attract a certain amount of negative attention. The prevailing notion about mental health care is usually based on the idea that something is wrong with the person that cannot be fixed. It is also shameful to admit that you need help with your mental health. 




In the early 20th century, there was a procedure called a lobotomy that severed the connection between the frontal lobe of the brain and the other parts of the brain. While now we know this process was nearly barbaric and crude, back then it was a legitimate form of treatment for people with mental illness. After performing the lobotomy, the person would, in the best-case scenario, become apathetic, lose all social inhibition, and, as a result, become calmer. In the worst-off cases, it would cause dementia, seizures, and death.After the advent of modern psychiatry and psychology, this process was stopped and banned. 


You have to understand that the brain and the mind are two different aspects of the same thing. A very crude analogy would be that the brain is the hardware, and the mind is the software. The truth about the human mind is, of course, infinitely complex; for example, there is no universally accepted definition of life. So how can we expect to define and understand something so incredibly complex as the human mind?


That being said, the first positive step we can take towards understanding the human mind and ourselves better is to encourage mental health and wellness. This begins with supporting people with their mental health issues and talking about them, just like we talk about a sprained leg or a torn tendon. 


Choosing the right therapist

 

To choose the therapist that will help you the best you a list of places that you can choose from:


Academic Institutions


The best place to find legitimate therapists would perhaps be at renowned educational institutions, where there is ongoing research in the field of mental health. While there is no guarantee that you will find a satisfactory mental health professional, the odds of finding one here are exponentially higher.


The educational institution must have a reputation to ensure you find an effective therapist. For example, in India, there is NIMHANS, which is the National Institute for Mental Health and Neurological Sciences. 

 

Hospitals and Clinics


Hospitals and clinics should be one of your go-to places to find a professional for your mental health needs. There are hospitals that focus on mental health disorders, which would be beneficial and make it easier for you to find a suitable psychiatrist or psychologist. In private clinics, you can easily find a professional, too. A clinic would be preferable if you want to feel more comfortable before your session. 



Independent practitioners

 

You can choose independent consultants based on their educational background, their specialization, and the reviews they receive at the places where they consult. 


Another way to choose the therapist would be to check the therapy method they will choose for your treatment.


Online applications

 

This might be a ray of hope for people in terms of choice, as it broadens the reach of the average consumer. When it comes to applications, there are aggregators that point you in the direction of a professional and help you book an appointment. 


Some applications have professionals on their payroll, which ensures that there is an added layer of accountability to your sessions. 


How to take the right call

 

While it may seem impossible to know whom to pick, trust your gut instinct. If you feel comfortable with the therapist you are talking to and feel that you are making progress, then you have made the right choice. If you feel that you are uncomfortable with the professional and are walking on eggshells around them, it is a sign that you should switch up.

 

But there are a few ways you can ensure that you select someone who will suit you:


  1. Make sure that your professional had studied at a leading academic institution for mental health and holds the relevant diplomas and certificates.


2. Pick whichever gender you are comfortable with, for whatever reason.


3. Make sure that you either have insurance to cover the cost of sessions or can foot the bill for the sessions yourself.


4. Try to get a reference from someone you know who has used the professional and has seen positive results. 


5. Consider checking out some reviews for professionals on various platforms and making your own inferences.

 

Wrapping up

 

Mental health professionals, when selected wisely, can help you lead a happier, more productive, and fulfilled life. So don’t rush through things; take your time, do your research, and then take a call on what you think will suit you best. 

Best of luck! I wish you a happy life!


Who is Yadav Venugopal?


Yadav Venugopal is a content professional with over a decade of experience in lead generation through content marketing. He has worked extensively in the IT domain, helping enterprises reach their target audiences through blogs, whitepapers, and e-books. His current focus is his movie review blog, themoviejunkie.com, to help people navigate the sea of viewing choices on OTT platforms and in theaters.

 

If you need bespoke content crafted for your business or service, you can reach him through his email yadav.venug@gmail.com. His portfolio is here.

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