Clients who are brand-new to therapy often have many questions about the process. We’ve tried to answer some of the most commonly asked questions below.
I want to send an email to a prospective therapist. What should I say?
When writing to a prospective therapist, it is best to be as brief and concise as possible. You can start by briefly describing who you are and then explain what you would like to work on in therapy. The point is just to begin the conversation; more in-depth conversations can follow in future emails or phone calls.
What is psychotherapy?
Psychotherapy, also referred to as talk therapy, is a way to help people with a broad variety of mental conditions, relationship issues, and emotional difficulties. Psychotherapy can help reduce or control troubling symptoms so a person can feel better and can increase well-being and healing.
Issues addressed by psychotherapy include difficulties in coping with daily life; the impact of trauma, medical illness or loss, like the death of a loved one; and specific mental conditions, like depression or anxiety.
There are several different types of psychotherapy and some types may work better with certain problems or issues. Psychotherapy may be used in combination with medication or other therapies.
What are the differences between psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, and counselors?
Counselors and social workers often provide talk therapy to clients but are not able to prescribe medication.
Psychiatrists are trained medical doctors, which means that they can prescribe medications. They spend much of their time with patients on medication management as a course of treatment.
Psychologists, who are not medical doctors, focus extensively on psychotherapy and treating emotional and mental suffering in patients with behavioral intervention.
Psychologists are also qualified to conduct psychological testing, which allows them to assess a person’s mental state and determine a course of treatment.
How can I find the right therapist for me?
Finding the right therapist can be a challenge sometimes, but not always. We recommend being patient with the process and allowing yourself space to explore your options. You may end up meeting with a few therapists before settling on the therapist that feels like the best fit. Choosing a therapist is a very personal decision, so there is not a simple formula that we can recommend. However, we do think the following questions are helpful to consider:
Trust – Do you feel you can trust the therapist?
Expertise – Does the therapist have experience and training in addressing the issues that bring you to therapy?
Schedule – Does the therapist have availability in their schedule at times when you are free to attend sessions?
Location – Is the therapist’s office accessible to you? Would you regularly be able to attend sessions at that location?
Fee – Can you afford the therapist’s fee per session?
How do I figure out what kind of therapy would be helpful?
If you’re not sure what kind of therapy would be helpful for you, we recommend reading the following articles:
What Kind of Therapist – and Which Type of Therapy – Is Right for You?
U.S. News & World Report
What do the different acronyms on your site mean? (e.g. What’s a LPC?)
Here are some of the most common acronyms you will find on the site and what they mean:
LPC: Licensed Professional Counselor
LCSW: Licensed Clinical Social Worker
LMFT: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
LCAS: Licensed Clinical Addiction Specialist
LMHC: Licensed Mental Health Counselor
To learn more about a therapist’s approach or professional training, you can contact them directly to request this information.
Can you share more resources with me?
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a free, 24-hour hotline: 1-800-273-8255.
National Domestic Violence Hotline, a free, 24/7/365 hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective (BEAM), a collective of advocates, yoga teachers, artists, therapists, lawyers, religious leaders, teachers, psychologists and activists committed to the emotional/mental health and healing of Black communities.
National Queer & Trans Therapists of Color Network, a healing justice organization that works to transform mental health for queer and trans people of color. If you want to find additional resources, such as hotlines, online support, directories, and other organizations of interest, please click here.
The Icarus Project, a support network and education project by and for people who experience the world in ways that are often diagnosed as mental illness. They offer a Crisis Toolkit which includes resources that may provide perspective, comfort, and/or tools that could be of assistance to people experiencing various sorts of tough times.