Faced with feelings of overbearing sadness, acute anxiety, or even suicide? Are these feelings are frequently difficult to handle alone or through discussion with family members or friends? Engaging with a professional mental health provider can serve as a first step to obtaining relief. Whether residing in an urban, suburban, seasonal, or rural community, and needing the professional services of a mental health therapist or counselor often requires a brave step to make that first call.. Before taking that step, please consider reading the following as a means to better understand your needs.
What to possibly consider first
First and foremost, if you feel you are going to hurt yourself or others and therefore you believe you cannot remain safe, you must get someone to bring you to the nearest emergency room. . If a close friend or family member is unavailable or if you are uncomfortable with this, you must call 911 so an EMT can transport you to the nearest emergency room.
If this is not your situation, then think about what you are seeking as a means to feel better emotionally, whether it would bealk therapy and/or medication.
Perhaps initially trying talk-therapy, also known as psycho- therapy or counseling, can provide relief. Psychotherapy and counseling stand as different strategies for professionals to provide treatment. Many or most individuals engaged in psychotherapy experience a self-led session guided by the psychotherapist as a means for the individual through self-exploration to retain a sense of self-determination. While professionally guided, and often with few words spoken by the therapist, some individuals can experience long periods of silence, while deemed therapeutic, can feel uncomfortable to some. Professional counseling proceeds more interactively, with at times the therapist/counselor giving an opinion as appropriate.
If initially engaging in talk therapy, you might arrive at time to discuss the use of medication, which typically depends upon the diagnosis and/or the efficacy of the current therapy.
Sometimes individuals prefer to initiate care through the use of medication. Many primary care physicians (PCP) are comfortable prescribing such medications as anti-depressants (most often in the SSRI classification.) If your PCP is either uncomfortable prescribing or feels you are better served by a psyche prescriber, a referral is typically given to either a psychiatrist or a nurse psyche practitioner. Many PCP’s might either require or strongly urge an individual to engage in talk therapy if they do prescribe a psyche medication.
Differences in mental health professionals
I have used many different terms…psychiatrists, psyche nurse practitioners, therapists and counselors. Prior to trying to find the right professional for your situation, let’s define who they are and what they generally provide as services.
Psychiatrists and psyche nurse practitioners are licensed to prescribe medications with a focus on psyche medications. Psychiatrists have completed medical school and are therefore considered medical doctors with a specialty in psychiatry.
Psychologists, licensed mental health counselors (lmhc), and licensed independent social workers (licsw) are trained to provide talk therapy. Educationally, psychologists have completed a Ph.D., while minimally lmhc’s and licsw’s are master degreed clinicians and may have earned a Ph.D. Psychologist are licensed to complete psychological testing.
How to find a mental health professional
Typically, there are a few ways to locate a mental health professional. Perhaps your PCP has made a recommendation or has given you a list of professionals to contact. If you are planning to pay for services through your health insurance, frequently mental health professionals are listed on the insurance web site. Otherwise call your insurance company for names of individuals practicing in a location convenient for you. Many communities also have listings of professionals, as well. For example, in Falmouth, Massachusetts, Falmouth Humans Services maintain a list of local practitioners and on Martha’s Vineyard www.mvpsychotherapy.com does the same.
Thank you for reading my blog. My next blog will focus on contacting the mental health professional and what to typically expect.
Marie T. Doubleday, lmhc