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It’s difficult to tell when it’s time to see a therapist or psychiatrist. The symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses may occur before the patient decides that he or she needs to seek professional help. But if left untreated, these conditions can become a serious health concern.
Many patients who believe that they need therapy but don’t have a mental illness have not been diagnosed. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) defines mental illnesses as those that interfere with one’s ability to function normally in one’s life. They include obsessive-compulsive disorder, major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and eating disorders. These conditions all involve serious disruptions to normal brain function and require medical attention. Even when a patient has a physical illness, he or she should see a doctor in order to be sure that the condition isn’t interfering with normal daily activities or with normal activities of daily living.
The first step in seeking therapy is to find a qualified provider of treatment options. In most states, mental health professionals are licensed and certified by the state Mental Health Services Agency (MHSA). In the state of California, psychiatrists are licensed to practice in the state. Psychiatrists can only recommend that their patients see a therapist, but in some cases, mental health providers can refer their patients to a therapist, but they cannot give therapy advice.
Once a mental health provider has recommended that a patient see a therapist, the next step is to make the appointment. It’s important to remember that therapy sessions are different from appointments in any office setting. If the sessions are not followed correctly, they will cause confusion between the patient and the therapist.
During a session, the psychotherapist’s office will usually be filled with distractions, like files, equipment, and patients. You won’t be able to focus fully on your sessions if there are too many people around. When possible, try to avoid a crowded office during therapy.
When your session with the therapist begins, the therapist will likely start with some questions about you, your family, and the current situation. You might also be asked questions about what led you to seek therapy and what you are currently experiencing. This part of the session may also be designed to elicit answers about specific experiences that you may have had in the past that led you to feel anxious, depressed, frustrated, or ashamed.
After the therapist asks you some questions, he or she will work through these questions with you in a way that makes it easier to communicate them to yourself. When the therapist answers your questions, she or he should explain that you should respond in detail about the information given. Then, the therapist will ask questions that are geared toward solving your problems. Your therapist will also ask you about symptoms that you may have experienced in the past, such as changes in mood or appetite, feelings of guilt, or changes in sleeping and appetite patterns.
Your therapist may ask you to do activities like breathing or relaxation exercises while you are in the therapy session so that you can come back to the session more focused, more aware, and happier. This type of structured therapy is designed to bring about long-term change. If you continue to struggle with the same symptoms after your sessions are over, the therapist may encourage you to see him or her again.
Some people feel embarrassed or ashamed about talking about their problems during the sessions, and if you find that talking to a therapist has put too much of a strain on your feelings, consider seeking other help or support. There are many support groups and online chat rooms for individuals who suffer from anxiety, depression, OCD, and similar conditions.
As you seek treatment, you should continue to discuss your concerns with your therapist as often as you can. A positive communication line with your therapist can open doors and give you hope for a brighter future. When you feel comfortable discussing your feelings, it becomes easier to find a solution to your problem. The therapist can guide you towards a solution, whether this means medication or therapy. Once you find a solution, you will be able to work towards healing yourself and helping others.
If your therapy sessions do not provide the results you need, you can contact your therapist for another session. If your therapist continues to not offer you the help you need, try to see someone else.