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  • Writer's pictureannettesebastian

Mental Health: Finding a Therapist

Moving is one of the top five most stressful life events. If you compound that with any of the others like death of a loved one, loss of a job or divorce, it's no wonder you might find yourself feeling stressed! There are a few ways to relieve that stress such as eating healthy, a regular sleep routine, moving your body (take a walk!), deep breathing and being grateful (count your blessings). Sometimes, however, you might find that you or your loved one needs professional help.

It is important to find someone you can open up to and be comfortable with. In 2014, the American Psychological Association conducted a study of effectiveness of different types of therapy. Surprisingly, they discovered that the therapy type was not as important as the therapeutic relationship—how well the therapist and the patient got along. But there are so many choices, so how do you start?

First, consider whom you or your loved one will work best with. Gender and age are two characteristics to consider. Is religion important to you? Would you like to work with a Christian counselor? Would you be more comfortable meeting with a counselor online? Virtual counseling has been available for years, but has become increasingly popular in the last year.

Second, make sure the therapist you choose is a licensed mental health professional, not a life coach who does not have a degree and license. A licensed professional follows guidelines and a code of ethics as well as continuing education and oversight by the Alabama Board of Examiners in Counseling.

Another consideration is the therapist's area of expertise. By reading their bio, you can gain insight into how they work and what types of treatment they provide. If the counseling is for a child, ensure that the therapist works with children. After finding a few choices, check that they do accept your insurance plan. Does the therapist offer a free, brief consultation over the phone? Ask them about their treatment orientation and how they help patients get comfortable with therapy. This can help you decide between a few final choices.

No insurance? For those with Medicaid or Medicare, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website is a great place to start your search. The most important thing is to know you are not alone and to seek help. The process may be daunting, but your mental health is as important and your physical health.

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