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How to Find a Mental Health Provider

Written by Steve Armitage
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How do I find the right mental health provider for me? Finding the right person to meet your needs can feel daunting. You may experience feelings of isolation or shame that hold you back from reaching out for help. Steve Armitage, therapist at PrimeCARE Searcy, brings clarity on how to choose a Mental Health Provider in the following article.

A Trusted Recommendation

Where do I begin my search? Most of us begin online but you might be surprised by how many of our friends and family already see a therapist. A personal recommendation can simplify your efforts and provide you with extra comfort as you begin this emotional journey into mental health. A trusted medical professional can also help guide you toward respected mental health professionals in your community.

Defining the Roles of Mental Health Providers

Let’s explore the difference between psychiatrists, psychologists, and therapists or counselors and their unique standards of practice. Knowing the differences may help you decide what kind of mental health care best meets your needs.

Psychiatrists are medically trained doctors who study, diagnose, treat and help prevent mental health disorders, many provide services for individuals who want to establish and maintain their mental health stability using any combination of medication, psychotherapy, and/or medical intervention.

A psychologist is not a medical doctor; however, many mental health exams and evaluations can only be provided by a licensed psychologist. Psychologists use evaluative tools to expertly determine mental health diagnoses, write out their findings, and recommend a treatment plan. They may also provide psychotherapy.

Therapists, counselors, and social workers will walk beside you and guide you into mental health along with psychiatrists and psychologists.

Knowing what you need might be as easy as saying we need a marriage and family therapist, or you might decide a clinical evaluation will be the best place to start based on the confusion you feel within yourself. Again, asking a medical professional for their opinion is a great way to gain insight on what type of mental health professional would help your mental and emotional health!

Evaluate Your Needs with 4 Questions

When choosing a mental health provider think about being specific, if a mental health provider “does it all” will they really do it all well? Look for someone who is focused on the issues that are important to your needs. Do not settle for someone who says, “oh I can do that too.” Not all mental health providers have the same qualifications. Consider education, nationally recognized training in specific types of therapy, personal & professional experience, as well as specializations within the mental health profession.

By evaluating your needs with these 4 questions, you’ll be able to identify professionals with relevant experience.

  1. “Do I have something medically wrong with me?“A visit to my doctor might determine whether or not I need blood work done to determine hormone levels, identify vitamin deficiencies, or receive a referral for a psychiatric or psychological evaluation depending on my symptoms. It might just as likely be determined that I am being impacted by a physical issue or illness.
  2. Do I have any deep attachment wounds from my childhood?” Childhood attachment issues can complicate our effort to be mentally healthy and a well-trained attachment disorder specialist understands this like no one else, these are foundational issues for mental health. (maybe 1 sentence explaining this)
  3. “What kind of trauma have I experienced?” Trauma is a big part of being human. There are various types of traumas as well as various levels of intensity regarding trauma. These range from various forms of abuse and near-death experiences to any event that a person was not physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually prepared for in life.  PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is real and many of our friends and family experience aspects of it in their lives.
  4. “What are the main stressors in my life?” Consider symptoms and life stressors that have produced various issues like anxiety, depression, addictive behaviors, suicidal thoughts, marital stressors, and more. There are mental health providers who are specially trained to work with people helping them relieve their specific symptoms. I want to find a provider who has a passion to help me accomplish my goals in therapy. So, I look for phrases like, “I enjoy helping people overcome trauma” or “Seeing couples renew their love for each other makes my job worthwhile.” I want to know that the expert I choose will understand my symptoms and my daily mental health challenges.

Use these questions to help you evaluate your need and identify keywords you could use in your search.

Begin Your Journey

If you feel unable to ask for a personal recommendation or overwhelmed by a Google search, you can rely on medical professionals to connect you with the right resources for your situation. At PrimeCARE, we have integrated mental health and medical professional to bring you a balanced approach to your whole health!

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