By Thrive Wellness Reno Clinical Director and Therapist Kerstin Trachok, CPC
If you’re interested in obtaining mental or behavioral health support, it can seem intimidating to begin the search for a provider. Connecting with a mental health provider that you trust can depend on highly personal preferences, which you’re absolutely entitled to possess. So, how should individuals go about finding and choosing a mental or behavioral health care professional that best fits their needs? We are so glad you asked!
Explore our top tips to consider when seeking and beginning mental or behavioral health care.
1. Reflect on the aspects of your well-being that are motivating you to seek mental or behavioral health support.
Take time to consider the state of your mental, emotional, behavioral, and even physical health, as these are all intertwined. Take note of the difficulties you’re facing and the symptoms you’re experiencing.
Often, individuals are driven to seek mental or behavioral health support for:
- Major life transitions, such as a move, job change, divorce, or during the perinatal period
- Grief and loss, such as parental grief
- Symptoms of anxiety, such as intrusive thoughts or panic attacks
- Symptoms of depression, such as chronic feelings of hopelessness
- Unresolved traumatic experiences, such as childhood abuse or neglect or sexual assault
- Self-destructive behaviors, such as substance abuse, disordered eating, or self-injurious behaviors
- Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
If you think any of these circumstances or others are affecting your well-being, keep this in mind as you begin the process of connecting with care. You can tailor your search to providers that specialize in treating your concerns.
2. Decide what mental or behavioral health service you’d like to obtain.
Consider the kind of mental or behavioral health professional you’d prefer to see, as each discipline offers specific services. Counselors and therapists typically use traditional talk therapy, also known as psychotherapy, to treat their clients. Psychologists generally offer assessments to diagnose various conditions in addition to offering talk therapy. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication to help their clients manage their mental and behavioral health concerns. If you’re not sure what type of provider would best meet your needs, any clinic should be able to point you in the right direction, including Thrive Wellness.
3. Determine whether you’d prefer a more directive approach or process-oriented style.
Some mental and behavioral health professionals take a directive approach. Often these providers implement systematic therapeutic modalities, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), into clients’ treatment. In sessions with directive-driven providers, clients can expect to have structured discussions, learn concrete skills, and be assigned therapeutic homework.
Other mental and behavioral health professionals are more process-driven. These providers guide their clients in understanding their emotions and developing ways to manage them. For those who find the idea of exploring their experiences, thoughts, and emotions attractive, they may want to seek process-oriented providers who typically approach sessions with more flexibility.
4. Use available resources to explore your provider options and learn more about common therapeutic interventions.
Psychology Today hosts the profiles of many mental and behavioral health professionals, allowing readers to dive into their backgrounds, therapeutic approaches, specializations, modalities, insurance partners, rates, and more. Many providers also detail the interventions they implement in the biographies on their organization’s website or personal platforms. While browsing, you can gain some foundational knowledge about the various evidence-based approaches to treating mental and behavioral health concerns, such as CBT, trauma-informed therapies, and play therapy. You may discover you’re interested in trying a specific type of treatment and/or working with a particular provider.
5. Ensure your services are covered by insurance.
Mental and behavioral health care are considered essential health benefits by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), meaning that health insurance plans must cover mental and behavioral health care. During your search for a mental health professional, find out which providers are in-network with your insurance. Many clinics, including Thrive Wellness, can help you understand your benefits and advocate to your insurance provider on your behalf so you can get the most out of your plan.
6. Consider whether specific characteristics of your provider matter to you.
The provider-client relationship requires a certain level of trust as clients share highly personal details and receive therapeutic guidance on crucial aspects of their life. If you feel you’d be more comfortable working with a mental or behavioral health professional of a certain gender, age, culture, or sexual orientation, then make sure to follow your inner guidance and adjust your provider search as necessary.
7. Be open and honest with your provider.
You’re the expert on your life and your experiences are unique to you. Let your provider know if an aspect of the process isn’t sitting well with you. Many mental and behavioral health professionals will attempt to adjust their approach in response, or they may refer you to another professional with more training and experience in a certain area.
8. Know that you are not stuck with your chosen provider.
If you feel like your relationship with your provider isn’t a good fit, you have every right to “break up” with your therapist. Keep in mind, though, the first session is usually intended for gathering information, so consider attending a few appointments to gauge whether you have a productive connection with your provider before exploring other options.
Even so, just as you’re not relaxed and trusting with every person, you’re not going to feel connected with every provider. Don’t let a less-than-ideal provider-client relationship keep you from seeking the clinical treatment you deserve.
9. Accept that therapy may be uncomfortable and challenging at times.
During therapy, you’ll dive into distressing matters, a pursuit that can exacerbate your symptoms. Furthermore, your provider will likely encourage you to turn away from any unhealthy coping strategies and replace them with healthy ones, requiring major behavioral shifts. As you process painful experiences, change self-destructive behavior patterns, and take steps toward personal growth, it’s natural to experience some level of discomfort. You will most likely feel worse before you feel better, but know that is the natural course of healing.
At Thrive Wellness, we wholeheartedly believe that you deserve to receive treatment that enriches your entire being. We can connect with you with compassionate, effective mental and behavioral health care based on your specific concerns, personal preferences, and values. Reach out to learn more about our services and providers.
About the Author
Thrive Wellness Reno Clinical Director and Therapist Kerstin Trachok, CPC
Kerstin received her master’s degrees in clinical mental health counseling and school counseling from the University of Nevada, Reno. Kerstin has seven years of experience in the counseling field working in different settings and a wide array of mental health issues. Kerstin has experience working in schools with children of all ages, clients with psychosis in a hospital setting, adults and teens in private practice, and working at an agency providing counseling to children and families, and two years of experience working with Eating Disorders at the PHP and IOP levels of care. Kerstin is a fully licensed clinical professional counselor in the state of Nevada and received her certification in Complex Trauma Levels I and II. Kerstin has experience working with children, teens, adults, and families with trauma, anxiety, grief, depression, ADHD, autism spectrum, suicidal ideation, and behavioral issues. Kerstin is passionate about fostering clients’ growth and autonomy while providing a safe and secure space to process emotions. Kerstin uses creative interventions and other tools to allow clients to voice their internal experiences beyond traditional talk therapy. Kerstin’s theoretical approach is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. She uses mindfulness tools and techniques to help clients be present-moment oriented, and reduce stress so they may move towards psychological flexibility. Kerstin believes all individuals have the right to live a fulfilling and vital life.