Posted by: Dr. Justin D'Arienzo, Psy.D., ABPP
How you find a therapist is an important question if you or a family member are struggling with a problem and you are looking for the best help to resolve that problem. There are so many types and levels of therapists that finding the right therapist can be immensely confusing and delay the process in getting help. Adding to the problem are the plethora of life coaches that have entered the realm and claim that they have the credentials and experience to help you. Some life coaches claim that, based on a problem they have had in their own life, they can also assist you despite not being licensed or credentialed.
Another challenge in finding a psychologist, therapist, or counselor is that we are often embarrassed to ask a friend who they would recommend because seeking professional assistance is often a private matter. It can be unnerving to ask a friend you knew had marital trouble who their marriage counselor was, as this will alert your friend that you are also having marital troubles and are in need of a couples counselor.
Here are my suggestions in step form to finding the best therapist for you:
1. Identify the general problem. Am I having marital trouble, was I unfaithful, do have I have an anger problem, is my child being defiant, do I drink too much, am I feeling awkward and anxious around friends or strangers, or did I experience a traumatic event and can’t sleep?
2. Get a referral. I know that I said earlier that finding a professional is often a private matter. If that is the case, then conduct an internet search using Google or Bing. Depending on your level of comfort, you may want to ask your primary care doctor, pastor, or friend for a referral.
3. Ensure the person is credential and licensed. The abbreviations and professional titles are very confusing. Psychologists are doctors of psychology and have Ph.D. and Psy.D. after their names. Psychologists sometimes identify themselves as a “licensed psychologist” but often they do not. The psychologist you see should be licensed. Social workers have a master’s degree in social work (some have doctorate degrees in social work or other related fields) and, when licensed in Florida, they have an LCSW (licensed clinical social worker) after their names. Counselors in the State of Florida have a masters degree in psychology or mental health counseling. They have an LMHC (licensed mental health counselor) following their name. Life coaches have no particular designation in Florida. A life coach is acceptable if they are also a licensed mental health provider. If they are not licensed, that often means they lack adequate education to help you. In my professional opinion, it is absolutely imperative that the person you are seeing is licensed in order to ensure they absolutely know what they are doing and that their services are regulated.
4. Read reviews and examine their website. Trust your gut that the person seems like a good fit. So much of the healing process in therapy is the result of the relationship that one has with their therapist. If you don’t trust the therapist and feel good about the relationship, you will not be honest and/or willing to take risks in changing your behavior or thought processes.
5. Quality mental health providers will often not accept your health insurance due to the extremely low reimbursement rates for mental health services. If the person has an established practice, you can rely on that old adage that “you get what you pay for.” If the individual has been in practice for an extended time and seems to command a high price for services, that is because they are able to help their clients and patients achieve success.
6. Contact D’Arienzo Psychological Group if you would like assistance and would like to see one of our therapists. We have a licensed psychologist, two licensed clinical social workers, and a license mental health counselor. All of our providers are life coaches and provide life coaching. If privacy or discretion is a concern, we do provide Skype and telephonic sessions worldwide. Our office is located in Jacksonville, Florida. Contact us today at 904-379-8094.