After my post about how I was going to therapy, there were two questions I got:
1. Can you share the number of your therapist?
Sure! Scroll down for more details or Ctrl+F ‘Mpower’ on this page 🙂
2. How should one choose a therapist/mental health professional?
And that is what this post is about.
Many of us may have heard the terms therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist, or even psychotherapist, and the first question one might have could be: Which of these should one approach? Now I could go into details, but here are articles I found that explain these concepts clearly.
For the purposes of this post, I will talk more about psychologists and psychiatrists.
Psychologists are mental health professionals who have studied human psychology, understand how the human mind works, and know how to coach an individual thorough emotional and other mental health issues like anxiety, stress, depression, anger, phobias, and more. They help us through methods like talk therapy (which is basically allowing us to vent, but is much more than that when the person listening to you is someone trained to listen and find deeper issues), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT – more about this in future posts), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), psychoanalysis, or other forms of therapy WITHOUT MEDICATION depending on what the concern is it and how severe it is.
Psychiatrists have a medical background. They are doctors who specialise in psychology and treat issues like addiction, clinical depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other severe mental illnesses with medication or a combination of therapy and medication depending on the issue and its severity.
HOW SHOULD ONE DECIDE WHICH ONE TO CHOOSE.
STEP 1. IDENTIFY THE CONCERN
If you know what you may be going through, you’re one step closer to getting better. If not, try and figure out what you think your issue is. Self diagnosis is beneficial in this case because you are acknowledging that there’s a concern. So don’t be afraid to google it. Once you have a better idea of what may be happening, make sure you speak to a professional (see Step 2 below).
STEP 2. FIND A MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL.
1. Ask someone you know. It’s the easiest way. Usually, people don’t discuss their mental health issues openly, so it may be hard to figure out who can put you in touch with someone. But if you know someone has been taking professional help for their mental health, ask them if they could share contact details. Also, ask about the protocol to get in touch with the professional – text message first, or call (preferable timings), or email.
Ask them if they’re willing to share a little bit about their experience (without asking for personal details). For example: How comfortable they felt while talking to the professional, whether their concerns were addressed, whether therapy/medication is helped them. If they don’t want to share, don’t probe.
2. Ask your family doctor. Or any other doctor you know. They usually know others in their field.
Mpower proactively champions mental health, creates awareness, advocates prevention, and provides services through a holistic and multi-disciplinary approach. I first came across Mpower when I was contacted by their team for a social media campaign, but after I did a live session with Janvi Sutaria – A psychologist and an outreach associate with Mpower (Live video below), I booked a session for myself (almost 2 months later) with Janvi itself because I felt really comfortable with her.
If you want to book a session to speak to a professional you can contact the Mpower clinic on 97028 00044. You can call between 10 AM – 6 PM. Or send a message on whatsapp.
Or, if you need immediate help, you can call their FREE HELPLINE on 1800-120-820-050 and they will guide you on how you should proceed.
4. Search Engines. Of course if nothing else works feel free to google, or call Just Dial and ask for contact details of therapists close to where you live.
STEP 3. BUT SHOULD I PICK A PSYCHOLOGIST OR A PSYCHIATRIST?
If you KNOW that your concern requires medication to treat it, then you should look for a Psychiatrist. But even if you pick one instead of the other, you will not go wrong because both are capable of diagnosing what you’re going through. If a psychologist feels that you may need medication, they will consult with a psychiatrist or refer you to one. Similarly, if you first go to a psychiatrist and they believe you don’t need medication, they will refer to to a psychologist. So either way, you’re okay.
THINGS TO REMEMBER / QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE
1. Can my friend/relative and I go to the same professional? Yes, you can.
Mental health professionals are bound by confidentiality and cannot share your personal information with any one else without your consent.
2. What if I’m not comfortable with the psychologist/psychiatrist?
Don’t hesitate try a another one. Unlike physical ailments, it becomes important for you to be at ease, open up to your therapist, and talk about your life and your mental health related concerns. So if you feel like it’s not working or you can find someone better, it is okay to switch. In fact, sometimes it may take a couple of tries to find the right person to guide you through this.
3. Can’t I just talk to a friend or someone close to me?
Sure! For immediate relief that will be most helpful. But when conversations with friends and family aren’t helping or providing only momentary relief, it’s one of the signs that you should maybe talk to a professional. I plan to share more about how talking to a professional is different than talking to a friend or family member 🙂
4. What if I want my therapist to be close to my age? Or the same (or opposite) gender as I am? Is it offensive to have a preference?
No. Because while age and gender of the mental health professional don’t matter, they do understand that it is important for you to be comfortable. So if you think you’ll be more comfortable talking about your issues to someone who is closer to your age or is male or female, you can definitely ask.
5. What qualifications should I look for in a professional?
Learn about what they specialise in. Some professionals specialise in children and adolescents, some in geriatrics (senior citizens), some in certain kinds of mental illnesses and disorders, and so on. Just like you wouldn’t go to a cardiologist for headaches, you need to make sure a mental health professional’s speciality is aligned with the kind of care you need.
A BIG THANK YOU to @mpowerminds for coming into my life and for Janvi for patiently answering my questions and helping me put this together.
If this post helped you, please share it with someone who may find it useful. I plan to do a series of posts on Mental Health and my personal journey with therapy. If you or someone you know wants to know something specifically, please ask in the comments below and I will try to address it in one of my future posts.