How to choose a psychotherapist

Finding a psychotherapist is a beneficial treatment for psychological and emotional problems and is particularly effective for mental health problems such as depression.

This video gives some helpful tips and advice on how to go about finding a psychotherapist. What to look for and questions to ask.

Psychotherapy for depression

When it comes to treating depression, psychotherapy (also known as talking therapy) is one of the most popular and effective options available. Research indicates that after just eight sessions with a qualified psychotherapist nearly 50% of patients showed some improvement in symptoms.

While psychotherapy alone may not be enough to resolve all cases of depression it can still play an important role in any treatment plan. It cannot be stated strongly enough the most effective means of treatment will always include some form of talking therapy or psychotherapy.

For example, studies show that psychotherapy combined with medication is more effective than medication alone. Talking to a qualified psychotherapist can help patients till they feel the effects of their drugs which can take several weeks to kick in. It also helps patients stick with their long term treatment plan.

The nice thing about having psychotherapy with medication is that people learn tools to deal with their depression. They learn how to prevent depression so when they come off their medication they are less likely to relapse.

Who performs psychotherapy?

There are three main types of therapist trained to perform psychotherapy, psychiatrists, psychologists and licensed clinical social workers.

Psychiatrists are qualified medical doctors who not only practise psychotherapy but can also order medical tests, prescribe medications and perform medical procedures.

Psychologists have either a Masters degree or Doctorate and treat depression primarily through psychotherapy. However since they are not physicians they cannot prescribe drugs.

Licensed Clinical social workers also have a post-graduate degree and are trained to counsel patients but they too cannot prescribe drugs.

How to find a psychotherapist

Once you have made the decision to seek help or have been advised to do so the next step is to find a therapist. Because people respond differently to treatments choosing the right psychotherapist is just as important as choosing the right type of medication.

Any therapist you decide to see needs to be qualified to deal with depression. Make sure he or she is licensed in your state and has experience treating people with your type of problem. You should also ask about the specific type of therapy they practise and approx how long it might take before you can expect to see results.

Most importantly choose a therapist who you feel comfortable working with. If, after a few sessions, you’re not satisfied discuss this in your meetings. Changing therapists is always an acceptable option.
Where to find a psychotherapist

There are several resources you can use to help you find a reputable psychotherapist. Start by asking your physician or trusted healthcare professional. You can also consult a number of respected mental health organisations as well as the departments of Psychiatry, psychology or social work at your local college or university.

Friends or family members who have undergone therapy for depression may also provide names of therapists who have helped them.

After finding a therapist who is experienced, qualified and easy to talk to the final piece to consider is the cost. The most expensive treatments are usually with psychiatrists and the least with clinical social workers.

Although psychotherapy can be lengthy lasting for months or even years it is widely recognised as a valid expense like any necessary medical treatment. Even if you aren’t covered by medical insurance and cant afford to pay for treatments there may be other sources that can provide assistance.

Psychotherapy can be a vital component of treating depression. It can help alleviate symptoms while providing realistic goals for recovery. With the right tools in hand you can make an informed decision in choosing the right course of therapy for you.

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