These days finding a mental health provider has become such a complex and complicated process that it's no wonder so many of those that are seeking a mental health provider are struggling to find the help they deserve.
The search often starts with just wanting to find a therapist, and needing someone to talk to. You may go to Google and search for therapists in your area. After finding some, you might contact them and find that they are all currently full and only available on waitlists. So you might put your name on the list and hope for the best! Or, you keep searching trying to find one, anyone, who can see you sooner - after all if you have recognized that you are struggling with your mental health you don't want to be left waiting on a waitlist forever - you'd like help now!
Once you, maybe, find someone you discover what type of therapy they offer. You have no idea what it is but maybe it'll help with [insert your mental health issue here]! So you give it a shot. Quickly you discover that your personalities don't mesh (or they cost too much, etc.) and try to hang in there for a few more sessions but ultimately give up with that provider and are back to square one looking again.
It's a nightmare process that we are all subject to.
As a new counselor in this industry I want to do my part to help more than just those who I am working with. With that, here is a bit of basic information about therapists, types of therapy, and where to find a mental health provider.
Common Types of Mental Health Providers:
It is important to notate that the term "therapist" isn't often all inclusive and you might need more specialized care (meaning a more educated provider) depending on what you'd like to be seen about. Here are a few common mental health providers that you can work with.
A licensed Psychologist has obtained a doctoral degree (either a PsyD or PhD in psychology). Psychologists are best known for their ability to evaluate and assess mental health at a clinical level. They also are able to diagnose and are notated with "Dr. " as their title.
The title of therapist or counselor can often be used interchangeably (and usually depends on the setting). They are required to hold a masters level degree in the mental health field. They can be licensed per the state they practice in, often notated as LMHC or LMFT (these are different per state).
Social workers oftentimes have a larger view in terms of responsibility, looking at things like case management and advocacy for clients. Licensed social workers have a masters level degree and are notated as LICSW (also different per state).
Mental Health Coach
Coaches typically come with various types of certifications in mental health and usually specialize in specific areas of care. They can help clients work toward goals within their scope of practice and training. You'll find them mostly on social media sites
A Psychiatrist is an actual licensed medical doctor (MD or DO) and can prescribe medication. They can assess and diagnose clients and have usually completed a rotation in psychiatric training.
Types of Therapy:
This list is by no means all inclusive but just a sample of what is out there currently. I highly suggest Googling "types of therapy [insert mental health issue]" to get an idea of what is offered and do a bit of research on what you might like to try. It can help to really narrow your search down if you know what type of therapy you would prefer to have.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT looks at better identifying how our thoughts determine our feelings and behavior as well as how all of those are related. This method can be used when things like insurance determine only a short number of sessions for a client are needed.
Good for: Anxiety, depression, phobias, OCD, insomnia
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)
Related to CBT, DBT was created in part to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD). It focuses on specifically teaching distress tolerance, emotion regulation, and greater interpersonal effectiveness.
Good for: BPD, anxiety, depression, suicial ideation, eating disorders
Psychodynamic is an approach that looks at root cause analysis by means of early lived experiences, and how these experiences created the patterns that are experienced now. Once connections are made work can be done to relax survival mechanisms and build stronger coping skills.
Good for: Anxiety, depression, substance use, eating disorders
Trauma-Informed is less of a type of therapy, and more of an approach. Being a trauma-informed practitioner means that they understand the impacts of trauma and can look for the signs and symptoms that appear and oftentimes look like other diagnosable mental health conditions (ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, etc.)
Good For: Trauma, anxiety, substance use, eating disorders
Where to Find Providers:
Is often the industry standard go to for finding mental health providers in your area.
Instagram, Tik Tok
If you'd rather go the mental health coaching route, lots of people are making work by marketing to users via these platforms. Keep in mind however that coaches are not always counselors/therapists, and they are usually highly knowledgeable about one area of expertise.
Insurance providers can carry lists of providers who are in your area and will share those lists with you.
Google Local Providers
If you run of out ideas you can always Google local providers in your area (or state if you are okay being seen remotely). The more you narrow down the type of therapy you'd like to be provided with, the easier this search will be.
There are often many community health care clinics that can help you if you are really struggling and need someone more urgently. You can also always dial 911 or go to your local hospital for care as well.
If your local college has a psychology masters program, they might offer free counseling from the students in training. Also available to those who are students in college, often the college will offer a some sort of counseling service.
BetterHelp, Cerebral, TalkSpace
These are tech start ups turned mental health providers and don't always have the best reputation in the industry for how they treat their employees. That being said, if you need help, there is no shame in seeing someone through these channels and are a valid option.