By Lauren Berger, MSW, RSW
If the mad rush that is December has left you feeling fried, you’re not alone. The end of the year is notoriously a high-stress time. Enter January, a time for laying low and self-reflection. This is the perfect time to get your mental health on track and set yourself up properly for 2019. As Bell Let’s Talk Day approaches on January 31st, more and more people are realizing that reaching out for support is the first step in improving mental health and feeling great. But who should you reach out to? It’s important that you find a mental health professional that suits your needs in order to meet your goals. How do you weed through the pros to find the right fit for you? Lauren’s Top Tips are zeroing in on discovering your mental health match.
What do you want to accomplish?
You wouldn’t go to a podiatrist for a stomach issue, would you? Just because someone is a psychotherapist doesn’t mean that they are well suited to handle every type of issue. If you’re looking for help with an eating disorder, make sure you’re seeking out someone who specializes in eating. Are you and your mate having trouble in paradise? Make sure you meet with a couples therapist who specializes in relationships instead of individual therapy. You may be surprised just how precisely the pros can specialize. In your search, make sure you specify the issues at hand so you can get the most specialized therapists in your corner.
How are you gonna get there?
Next, consider the way you want to reach your goal. Different therapy modes work well with different issues. If anxiety is the problem, consider Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Need some help with Borderline Personality Disorder? Dialectical Behaviour Therapy is likely for you. If you’re finding the roadblocks to success are too steep to manage, Clinical Hypnosis may be the key. Do you have no idea what therapy may be best for your issue and personality type? You’re not alone… it’s confusing! Contact a counsellor and let him or her break down the methods that would likely bring you the most success.
Feel the vibe.
If you don’t click with your therapist, it will probably be harder to see results. “Clicking” doesn’t always mean that you want to be best friends; you just need to connect so you can work well together. Some people need tough love and others need a lot of comfort along the way. Whatever it is you need, make sure you speak up if you feel you’re not getting it. Your therapist can adjust his or her approach or refer you to someone else if necessary. I often say that finding your therapist is kind of like finding your romantic partner (minus any romance, of course); you don’t always find your perfect match with the first person you “date”, and it’s totally cool to try new people if you’re not feeling the connection. You’ll know when you hit it.
Just go for it. Often the hardest part of the therapeutic journey is taking the plunge to make your first appointment and begin. Once you get over that hump, you’ll likely find it much easier to continue. If you find yourself thinking, “But I feel better today… maybe I don’t really need counselling”, I still strongly suggest making your appointment and getting started. It’s terrific to not be feeling your worst, but unresolved issues are just that – unresolved. They will likely rear their ugly heads again before too long. Beginning the process at a point when you’re feeling stronger is a great opportunity to learn coping mechanisms before you need to use them next time. And remember: if the techniques don’t seem to be your speed, speak up. There are always more tools in the toolbox
Nothing is written in stone.
Is it really just not working with your therapist? Don’t be shy to ask for a referral to someone else. Your therapist wants you to be successful and have a great outcome, even if he or she isn’t the one to guide you. No need to ghost out of there and feel alone in finding the right fit. Your therapist likely has a pool of colleagues to make an appropriate referral, and anyone worth their salt will be happy to assist you in finding your right match. Never be shy to ask for help. That’s why we’re here.
Wading through all the wonderful therapists out there may seem like a daunting task but, with my tips, you’re well-equipped to find the person that is going to help you achieve your goals and feel happier. Bell Let’s Talk Day reminds us that mental health is just that – health. We must be as vigilant with our mental health as we are with our physical health. It is both smart and an act of self-love to care for your mind. Reaching out is the first step.
**Disclaimer: The advice in this article is for informational purposes only and does not replace the diagnosis/treatment of a licensed medical or mental health professional.**
Lauren Berger is a Registered Social Worker Psychotherapist providing counselling and psychotherapy at IHI. Check her out at www.laurenberger.ca, drop her a line at [email protected], follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBergerMSW, or sneak a peek at her Instagram: laurenberger_msw.