After your physical exam rules-out a medical condition to account for your symptoms you now face the daunting task of selecting a mental health provider. According to Mental Health America, almost 40% of Americans do not receive treatment within the year of reporting serious mental health problems. That number jumps to 60% when considering young people with major depression.
Doing the work needed to get started in treatment is often a barrier preventing people from getting the help they or their loved one needs. Hopefully, the following guide will make the process easier.
- Are they licensed in your state? Believe it or not, in many states individuals can hang up a shingle and offer their services as a psychotherapist without having a license to practice. Lower fees may be attractive, but the lack of board oversight makes them a risky choice. Psychotherapy clinicians are typically Licensed Practicing Counselors (LPC); Licensed Marriage & Family Therapists (LMFT); Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) and Psychologists (Ph.D., PsyD, or MA in some states). For medication treatment with a mental health specialist there are Psychiatrists (either MD or DO); Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMHNP) and in some states Physician Assistants – Clinical (PA-C).
- Does the cost of treatment fit your budget? Even with the help of insurance paying for quality, mental health care can squeeze most budgets. Cost can vary between providers, but in general, a psychiatrist will charge more than a PMHNP and a psychologist more than an LPC or LCSW. Factors to consider besides the cost of service is how long or often you may need services along with the efficacy of the provider to help improve the quality of your health. The costliest option is NOT seeking treatment for mental health issues that are seriously impacting the ability to function and negatively affecting your health.
- Do they have expertise or certification related to your needs? Most psychiatrists and therapists are competent in working with adults and the common mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Different populations such as geriatric adults, young children or individuals in the LGBT community often benefit seeing a provider with specific experience or expertise. Extra training and competency proven with certifications or additional licensures offer added confidence that the provider can address the more challenging issues such as eating disorders and co-occurring addictions.
- Do the provider’s treatment modality and style fit yours? All providers should be utilizing evidenced-based practices which mean there is proof that what they do works. Beware of unusual or unconventional treatment. Research the modalities used by the prospective provider to consider if that aligns with you. Someone with problematic relationships at home may do better with an LMFT or another therapist rather than just medication based treatment. On the flip side, some mental health conditions such as psychosis, often require medication to manage the symptoms.
- What provider demographics do you prefer? When choosing a provider, it is acceptable to consider traits that would typically be considered “biased” in other situations. Do you feel more comfortable talking with someone who shares your ethnic/cultural background? Is it important to have a therapist that is a Christian? Perhaps you would prefer someone entirely different from you for a fresh perspective?
- How far is the provider’s office from your home? Transportation barriers and lack of time are two of the factors that negatively affect engagement in treatment. When all else is equal, it may be best to opt for the provider closer to you.
- Does the provider offer a “test drive”? Providers also want a great fit for their clients, so many offer free consultations or screening appointments. Intangibles such as “how welcoming” the office environment feels or if you “click” with the therapist’s personality can be decided only by meeting face-to-face.
- Does the provider directly discuss successful partnership? In addition to meeting at the front end to determine fit, does the prospective provider directly address the concept of reassessing the partnership and treatment effectiveness later? A reassessment not only conveys the understanding that “all therapists can’t meet the needs of all people” but the focus is also on your well-being and success.
- Do they have good reviews? Most everything is evaluated on social media these days including mental health providers. As with all reviews, consider the most common themes and content about that provider.
- Did you receive a referral for them from another health provider? Unlike Google reviews, those in the healthcare profession hear a lot of feedback about mental health providers that go unpublished. They also tend to be good at determining the quality of another provider’s work.
Choosing a mental health provider that is right for you is vital to your recovery. You do not have to face this challenge alone, Pasadena Villa Outpatient – Raleigh can help. Call us at 407-574-5190 or complete our contact form to help with the next steps of treatment. Pasadena Villa Network of Psychiatric Services currently offers treatment at two residential locations in both Orlando, Florida and Knoxville, Tennessee, and outpatient services in Raleigh, North Carolina.