After the death of a loved one we can feel a whole range of emotions for a long time. People commonly report feeling sad, angry, lost, relieved, lonely, depressed and anxious. Sometimes we might even find ourselves laughing and crying at the same time. Our moods can sometimes be so volatile, after the loss of a loved one that we might feel as if we are going crazy. These are normal grief reactions, but if you find that your feelings are unbearable to handle alone or if close friends or family members are suggesting you “need help” you might decide to seek out a therapist. Often, people are not sure how to go about finding one. Below, I am going to list four routes that people often follow when seeking a therapist.
1) Some people speak with their primary care physician. This is an objective party who can listen to your experiences. He or she might also be able to discern whether you would benefit more from a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Once this decision is made your primary care physician will hopefully be able to recommend some reputable therapists in the neighborhood.
2) Other people want to use their insurance so they go to the website of their insurance company and pick a therapist from the list of providers. Some people I know have had luck doing this while others prefer a recommendation or referral to a therapist from someone they know. When looking over the list on the website of your insurance company you might want to call up the insurance company to make sure that all of the providers are listed on the website. Surprisingly, often for one reason or another, some providers are missing. At any rate, when choosing a therapist, you want to make sure that you know all of your choices.
3) Asking family and friends if they know of a therapist can also be helpful. Sometimes people take the list of providers from their insurance company and ask people they know if they know anybody on the list who they would recommend. Better yet, some people ask their friends and family members if they know of anybody in the mental health field who knows anybody on the list who they would recommend.
4) Sometimes calling up schools with psychology or psychiatry departments and asking for a referral to someone trained at their school will yield good results. It is unlikely that someone working at the school is going to give you the name of someone not worth his or her salt because that would reflect poorly on the program.
Often the hardest part of finding a therapist is getting over the perceived stigma of going to therapy. I urge anyone who is having a difficult time picking up the phone for this reason to find a way to get over it. You can discuss worries about being stigmatized, and what it means to see a therapist, in your first session. The payoff for overcoming your apprehension will make the discomfort at the beginning of therapy more than worth it. One of the main determinants of whether the therapy is going to be a good experience or a mediocre one is whether or not you find the right therapist for yourself. I am going to speak more about this is my next blog entitled: What to Look For in a Therapist.