A psychiatrist is a Doctor of Medicine and provides usually short (15-25mins) sessions for medication management services. Usually not the first step and is recommended in conjunction with therapy services.
A therapist is a licensed masters level individual who has been trained in the art of counseling/psychotherapy. This individual usually holds an LCSW (licensed clinical social worker) or LPC (licensed professional counselor) or LMFT (licensed marriage and family therapist) license or is under supervision in one of these fields. They typically meet with individuals for 45min-1 hour. They do not prescribe medication.
A psychologist has a PHD in psychology and typically does psychiatric testing services and can also provide psychotherapy. Testing can take many hours to complete. Therapy would be the same as with a therapist.
What is going on in your body and brain? Symptoms are a normal reaction to an abnormal experience. Changes in your sleep or eating. Feelings that are persistent or overwhelming. Changes in your behavior.
Four common reasons people come into therapy are for anxiety, depression, trauma, and changes in their life.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA)- https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families and National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) https://namicva.org/resources/about-mental-illness/ are great resources for learning more about diagnoses and mental health in general.
Step 2: Identify your wants
There are many different types of therapy and it can be a little confusing, but you may also know exactly what you are looking for.
- Do you want someone direct and informational? -You may want CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
- Do you want someone who uses experiential techniques like art, play, yoga, meditation, psychodrama? – You may search for one who states they bring these into their practice.
- Do you need someone who focuses on trauma? – EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), rewind, narrative, and exposure are all options.
- Do you feel your symptoms are more personality traits? – Maybe try DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy)
- Maybe it is as simple as I want an African American female who takes my insurance. Each of these are ok and there are many therapists out there!
Do you need something more intensive in your community? Try one of the following
- Mental Health Skill Building: goal-directed training to enable individuals to achieve and maintain community stability and independence in the most appropriate, least restrictive environment.
- Crisis Stabilization: direct interventions that provide temporary, intensive services and supports that avert emergency, psychiatric hospitalization or institutional placement of individuals who are experiencing serious psychiatric or behavioral problems that jeopardize their current community living situation
- Intensive In-Home: are for children and adolescents under the age of 21. These services are time-limited interventions provided typically but not solely in the residence of the child who is at risk of being transitioned from home to out-of-home placement due to documented clinical needs of the child
Step 3: Find a provider
You can call your insurance to find providers in network
Research individuals to make sure they are a good fit. Read their bios, if they sound like someone you would get along with, give them a try.
Remember that its ok to try more than one.
Check out their website or try Psychology Today or even ask for suggestions from friends.
Step 4: DON’T GIVE UP
Mental health treatment is just like any other professional relationship. You have to find the right fit. Sometimes that takes time, but there is someone out there that fits your needs.
It’s also important to remember that our bodies are complicated systems. It is all connected-body, brain, spirit. The food we eat, the sleep we get, the generations that have come before us, the work we do, the self-care we do, all combine to create a balance and sometimes we need help finding or adjusting that balance. This is what we are here for.
Substance Use 101:
- Use- Taking a substance for an intended purpose. This could be with medical direction or to get high. Any use of a substance is considered substance use. It can be legal, medicinal, recreational, or illegal use of a substance.
- Misuse- The use of a substance for an inappropriate or non-intended reason.
- Substance Use Disorder- When a substance is intentionally or excessively used and results in harm to the user’s mental or physical health. Classified as mild, moderate, or severe.
Levels of Care- (low to high)
- Early Intervention- assessment and education of at-risk individuals who do not meet criteria for substance abuse treatment
- Outpatient- Usually 1 hour/week individual therapy sessions, but up to 9 hours a week of group or individual.
- Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP)- 9+ hours per week group therapy
- Partial Hospitalization Program- 20+ hours per week, but not requiring 24-hour care
- Residential Treatment- 24 hour care, usually 30-90 day programs
- Inpatient Detox- 24 hour medical care
Community support networks:
- AA- alcoholics anonymous- began in 1939 as a community for those struggling with alcohol addiction. 12 step group of principles. https://www.aa.org/
- NA- narcotics anonymous- began in 1953- 12 step program that does not focus on any particular drug, NA’s approach makes no distinction between drugs and alcohol. https://na.org/
- SMART Recovery- began in 1994 and is a secular and science based approach using cognitive behavioral therapy and non-confrontational motivational methods. https://www.smartrecovery.org/
- Refuge Recovery- began in 2008 and believes Buddhist principles and practices create a strong foundation to recover from addiction https://refugerecovery.org/
Just like we mentioned in mental health 101 it is important to find the right level of care and right practitioner for you. Shop around and ask questions. Another good resource is: https://www.samhsa.gov/