Finding a new doctor or therapist can be challenging when you’re feeling your best, and when you’re needing immediate support it can be overwhelming. Here are some questions you can ask, of yourself and others, to help you find the best mental health provider for your needs. It’s important to find a provider that’s right for you, someone that will respect you as an individual and will look at root causes and not just treat symptoms.
- Do you want face-to-face visits or would remote counseling work?
- How far can you travel?
- Do you need medication management? In this case you need in-person care.
Identify What Level of Care You Need
- Are you seeking individual or marriage counseling? A therapist, psychologist, or licensed counselor might be an appropriate choice.
- A psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse practitioner or physician’s assistant can provide medication management.
- Do you want both therapy and medication management? Find a practice with a team approach.
Decide What Other Factors are Important to You
- Do you want a male or female provider – do you have a preference?
- What worldview does the provider have? Look for someone that respects and understands your spiritual worldview.
- Do you want a provider that integrates wholistic and alternative medicine options into their practice? Are there a wide range of treatment options offered?
Seek Out Recommendations
- Ask your pastor, friends or co-workers if they know of providers they recommend.
- Ask your primary care provider who they recommend.
- Don’t trust everything you read online. Mental health providers are prohibited from responding to public criticism that would put them in a different light.
- Check with the state licensing boards and professional associations to see if disciplinary actions have been taken against a provider.
- Ensure the provider is licensed by the state and in good standing.
Ask Questions—Interview the Provider or Practice
- What types of illness do you focus on?
- How long have you been in practice?
- What is your treatment philosophy?
- How will you involve me in the decision-making process regarding my treatment plan?
- Do you feel people can, in some cases, recover from mental illness?
Examine your own expectations and needs as you look for a mental health care provider. Ask questions of others to help you get a feel for the reputation, philosophy, and methods of providers.
If even the thought of asking these questions seems overwhelming, share this with a family member or friend and ask for their assistance. A competent and caring mental health provider is worth the extra effort it takes to find one.
Feelings of confusion, depression, fear, and anxiety are often triggered by traumatic life experiences. At other times other psychiatric symptoms may be exacerbated by physical illness, effects of polypharmacy, or environmental toxicities. A whole-person approach to mental health that attempts to discover root causes of symptoms is essential. An effective provider will offer a range of treatment options including some non-pharmacological recommendations. When medication is needed, a competent provider will educate the patient on the risks and benefits and possible long-term effects. They will provide evidence-based recommendations without coercion. Above all, they will listen attentively and treat all patients with respect.
Beautiful Minds Wellness supports a whole-person approach to achieving mental health. We offer a variety of community and online based mental health workshops and groups. Our neighbor, Beautiful Minds Medical, is a psychiatric practice that offers a range of whole-person services including psychiatry, therapy, life & health coaching and an intensive outpatient program. Scholarships are available for those with limited financial resources. We also have an online classroom with courses on relationships and healthy boundaries, spirituality and mental health, and the long-term risks of psychiatric medications.
No matter where you live, there is a growing number of mental health providers that are providing compassionate mental health care.
Below are a couple of provider directories that provide search functions by location. Beautiful Minds Wellness is unable to individually vet or endorse the quality of the practitioners in these directories.
The Provider Directory from the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care lists the following Principles for Practice that all providers in their directory have agreed to abide by.
Provider Directory Principles for Practice – Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health
We believe that…
- People experiencing distress remain people first and foremost and should be viewed and treated with respect (as opposed to being viewed and treated as diagnoses or cases).
- Recovery involves collaboration between the person in distress and their social and therapeutic network.
- The wellness model of care should be the norm. The current illness model should be challenged.
- The paradigm of recovery and well-being is the underpinning of all our initiatives.
- Individual informed choice and self-determination are critical ingredients for recovery.
- Honest evaluation of medication risks and benefits should be shared openly.
- The role that alcohol, prescription medication abuse and illegal drugs play in damaging the lives of those with mental health challenges and their families must be addressed.
- Social and emotional distress is an essential, if difficult, dimension of human experience.
- While medications may provide some symptom relief in the short-term, the assumption that their long-term use is always effective is not supported by independent research. In fact, new research has found that long term medication use may impede sustained mental health recovery and optimal health.
- People can and do recover from mental health conditions, at times facilitated by, but at other times in spite of, current mental health services. Long-term disability is not inevitable and should be neither an expected nor an accepted result of mental health conditions.
- Recovery is primarily the work of the person in distress. We value individual choice and foster hope by appreciating the active and substantial involvement of the person in distress in all facets and phases of their own care and recovery, whether or not they choose to use medications.
The Mad in America Provider Directory provides a listing of individual practitioners, peer organizations, mutual support groups, and residential and outpatient programs that will support people who want to taper from their psychiatric medications.
The Abide Network provides a list of Christian counselors and coaches. Many of their counselors offer remote counseling services.