Psychotherapy and Counseling:

Discovering a Therapist and Getting the Most out of Therapy


Psychotherapy is a really effective treatment for mental and emotional troubles. But in order to harvest its benefits, it’s important to select the right therapist — someone you trust who makes you feel cared for and has the experience to help you make changes for the better in your life.

Understanding Psychotherapy

The goal of good psychotherapy is change, and a qualified therapist is professionally educated to help you identify and work towards your destinations. A good therapist is someone you can easily talk to and cares about you and your troubles. Therapists are professionally trained to work with you to discover areas in your life that you want to alter and sustain you through the procedure. The quality of your relationship with asympathetic, educated therapist is what counts most.

Why Therapy and not Medication?

The thought of being able of solving your problems with taking a pill each day can sound attractive. If only it was that easy! Mental and emotional problems have multiple causal agents, and medication is not a one stop cure for them. It may help ease the symptoms, but may have side effects and does not provide complete relief.

Therapy can be time consuming and difficult, as uncomfortable emotions and thoughts can arise as part of the intervention procedure. However, therapy supplies long lasting benefits and reinforcement. Discovering and addressing inherent causes of your mental or emotional problem not only supplies symptom relief, but gives you tools for distinguishing and fending off triggers in the future. Therapy also supplies you with management and coping skills to help you stay anchored, and helps you modify behaviors that you would like to vary.

Myths About Therapy

I don't require a therapist. I can just talk to my friends. While the reinforcement of friends and family is essential, therapy is unique. Therapists are professionally educated as listeners to help you get to the root of your troubles and direct you to a resolution.

Therapy is only for mentally ill people who can't handle their problems. Therapy is for people who have enough self-awareness to realize they need a helping hand. Therapy helps you discover tools and techniques to improve your close relationships and quality of life.

The therapist will fix my problems. The therapist centers on the unwholesome patterns and symptoms in your life that you need to change. The therapist is somewhat like a personal trainer in a gymnasium – they can be a guide, but you still have to do the work.

Selecting a Therapist

There are so many types of therapies and therapists that it might feel a little overpowering to get started. Choosing the right therapist for you can take some time and work, but it’s worth the endeavor. The association you have with your therapist is essential. You need someone who you can trust, with whom you feel easy talking about problematical material, and who will be a collaborator in your recuperation. Therapy won’t be efficient unless you have this bond, so take some time at the start to find the right person.

Experience matters. Look for a therapist who is knowledgeable in treating problems that you have. Frequently, therapists have unique regions of direction, such as clinical depression or eating disorders. Learn about various treatment preferences. Some therapists do a blend of orientations. However, it’s a good idea to find out about the different treatment types, because that can impact your therapist’s manner of relating and proposed length of treatment.

Check licensing. Make certain your therapist has a current permit and is in good standing with the state regulatory panel. Regulatory boards vary by state and by profession. Trust your gut. Even if your therapist looks great on paper, if the connection doesn’t feel good, if you don’t trust the therapist, or experience their interest in you or caring about you, go with another choice. A reputable therapist will respect this choice and should never pressure you or make you feel shamed.

Discovering a Good Therapist in Your Region

There are several ways to go about finding a therapist in your area. Some introductory points include:

Your family doctor. Your family doctor can be a starting point in acquiring a therapist after ruling out other underlying causes of mental health distress.

Family or friends. Often a good referral can be discovered by people with direct knowledge of a therapist.

Senior centers, community clinics. These agencies often provide therapy on a sliding scale. Provider listing by your insurance. Keep in mind that not all mental health professional people will be covered by your insurance policy.

Mental health associations. Sometimes mental health associations supply databases of therapists that specialize in particular areas, such as clinical depression or anxiety. Local chapters may likewise be a good place to ask.

Search for a Mental Health Professional

The ensuing types of mental health professionals have advanced training in therapy and certification by their individual boards. Numerous professional organizations provide online searches for qualified professionals. You may also want to double check with your state regulatory board to make sure the therapist’s license is up to date and there are no ethical violations named.


Psychologists have a doctoral degree in psychology (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) and are certified in clinical psychology.

Social Worker

Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) have a Master's degree in social work (MSW) along with additional clinical preparation.

Marriage and Family Therapist

Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) have a Master's degree and clinical experience in marriage and family therapy.


A psychiatrist is a physician (M.D. or D.O.) who specializes in mental health. Because they are medical doctors, psychiatrists can order medication.

Paying for Psychotherapy

Many insurance companies supply limited coverage for psychotherapy. Read through your program carefully to see what benefits you get. Insurance coverage for therapy usually has limitations as to how many sessions you can have and who you can see. Some types of mental health professionals might not be covered. You may need a referral through your primary care physician.

Keep in mind that some therapists do not accept insurance, only taking payment straight from the patient. Sometimes these therapists will accept sliding scale payments—what you can afford to pay per sitting. Don’t be scared to ask what arrangements can be made if you feel the therapist could be a good fit for you.

Affordable Psychotherapy

Take a look around your community for service agencies or organizations that may provide psychotherapy at discounted rates. Senior centers or family service offices are a good beginning. Agencies that involve interns in training likewise can be an alternative for psychotherapy. An intern may be a good option for you if the intern is enthusiastic, empathetic and has superior supervisory education. However, an intern’s time at the agency is limited, so when the training is complete, you either need to end the therapy or get some other therapist.

Types of Therapy

Most therapists don’t restrict themselves to one particular type of therapy, rather combining different types in order to best fit the situation at hand. This can extend many compelling tools for the therapist to use. However, therapists often have a standard preference that leads them.

Some of the more familiar psychotherapy approaches include:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) applies a combination of both cognitive and behavioral therapy. CBT explores both thinking patterns and harmful or self-destructive conducts that might accompany them. The therapy then blends varying the thinking patterns along with changing the behavior.

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy. The hypothesis behind psychodynamic psychotherapy is that our past – untoward childhood experiences or other unconscious conflicts – is the cornerstone for problems that persist into adulthood, such as remarkably low self-esteem, anxiousness, or a feeling of being incomplete. This type of therapy is generally more long term.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy. Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) is a short term, structured approach based on the position that our current problems are maladaptive behaviors rooted in our previous interpersonal relationships.

Family Therapy. Family therapy involves treating more than one member of the family at the same time to help the family resolve conflicts and improve fundamental interaction. It is frequently based on the assumption that families are a system. If one function in the family changes all are affected and need to change their behaviors as well.

Group Therapy. Group therapy is facilitated by a professional therapist, and requires a group of peers working on the same problem, such as anxiety, depression or substance abuse, for instance. Group therapy can be a worthwhile place to practice social dynamics in a safe environment and get inspiration and ideas from peers who are fraught with the same matters.

Couples Therapy (Marriage Counseling). Couples therapy necessitates the two people in a dedicated family relationship. People go to couples therapy to learn how to work through their differences, communicate better and problem-solve challenges in the relationship.

Which Type of Therapy is the Best?

There is no one type of therapy that is the best, any more than there is one best style of car or one best kind of food. It depends on each person's personal needs and wishes. Some particular techniques have been ascertained to be more useful than others in coping with distinct specific types of problems (such as phobias). In general, research about the "best" model of therapy always reaches the same conclusion: the most critical factor is the relationship between you and your therapist. If you feel comfortable and trusting in that relationship, the model of therapy, like your car, is just the vehicle that will help you move forward to lead a more satisfying life, regardless of the conditions that bring you to look for help.

What to Expect in Therapy

Every therapist is unique, but there are ordinarily some similarities to how therapy is structured. Usually, sittings will last approximately an hour, and often be about once a week, although for more intensive therapy they may be more frequently. Therapy is ordinarily conducted in the therapist’s office, but therapists also work in hospitals and nursing homes, and in some cases will do home visits.

Your Initial Therapy Sessions

The first session or two of psychotherapy is ordinarily a time for the therapist to collect information about your mental and physical health history, evaluate your situation and work with you to produce a treatment program. In many clinics, some of this introductory intake info may be done by a person different than your therapist.

This is also an important time for you to be assessing your association with your therapist. Do you feel like your therapist cares about your situation, and is vested in your recovery? Do you feel comfortable asking questions and sharing delicate information? Remember, your connection is critical, so if you are feeling uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to consider another therapist. How long does therapy last?

Everyone’s intervention is unique. How long therapy lasts depends on many components. You may have complicated issues, or a comparatively forthright problem that you want to address. Some therapy treatment types are short term, while others may be more time-consuming. Practically, you might also be restricted by your insurance coverage.

Nevertheless, discussing the duration of therapy is essential to bring up with your therapist at the start. This will give you an estimation of starting goals to work towards and what you want to achieve. Don’t be afraid to revisit this issue at any time as therapy goes on, as goals oftentimes are modified or changed during treatment.

Evaluating Your Progress

Evaluating your progress should be ongoing throughout therapy. There is no simple fast road to recuperation, but many twists, turns and the occasional backtrack. Sometimes, what seemed like a forthright problem turns into a more complicated one. Your therapist should work with you in this progression and reevaluate goals and progress with you as needed. Remember, therapy is not a competition. You are not a loser if you do not meet your goals in the objective number of sittings. Look for broad progress and learning along the way. Therapy will not always feel pleasant. Painful memories, frustrations or feelings might come up. This is a normal component of therapy and your therapist will direct you through this procedure. All the same, use precaution if these feelings are so intense that you are miserable after each session and start fearing therapy sessions. You might need to slow down. Be certain to communicate with your therapist how you are feeling.

How Do I Know if Therapy is Working?

Development and modification is difficult for everyone, and you won’t be a new person overnight. Look for long-lasting patterns in growth and change. Your general temper might be improving, for example. You may feel more attached to family and friends. A crisis that might have overwhelmed you in the past you address with much less stress. Don’t be frustrated with episodic setbacks. It can be arduous to stretch yourself and break old, established patterns.

Making Psychotherapy Work For You

Therapy is hard work, but the rewards are worth it. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your therapy:

Don’t expect the therapist to order you what to do. You and your therapists are collaborators in your recuperation. Your therapist can help guide you and make suggestions for treatment, but only you can make the modifications you need to move forward.

Make a committal to your treatment. Don’t cut sessions unless you absolutely have to. If your therapist gives you homework in between sessions, be sure to do it. If you find yourself cutting sessions or are reluctant to go, ask yourself why. Are you avoiding tough discussion? Did last session touch a nerve? Talk about your reluctance with your therapist.

Share what you are feeling. You will get the most out of therapy if you are accessible and true with your therapist about your feelings. If you feel discredited or embarrassed, or something is too hard to talk about, don’t be afraid to tell your therapist. Slowly, you can work together to get at the issues.

When to Stop Therapy

When to stop therapy depends on you and your individual situation. Ideally, you will cease therapy when you and your therapist have determined that you have met your goals. Nevertheless, you may find at some period that you have got what you want out of therapy, even if your therapist feels otherwise.

Leaving therapy can be hard. Remember that the therapeutic relationship is a profound bond, and ending this relationship is a loss—even if treatment has been productive. Speak about this with your therapist. These feelings are normal.




“Under the care of Leo J. Borrell, M.D. since December 2001, I have seen a remarkable improvement in my mother’s condition. She is responding dramatically to the new regiment Dr. Borrell has prescribed”

- Beth Rose