How to Find the Right Therapist for Mental Health Treatment

Listen to episode 2 of the podcast – Tell Me More – transcript:

(Music fades in) Nearly one in five US adults live with a mental illness that’s more than 51 million people according to the National Institutes of Mental Health. (Music picks up) And while millions of people could benefit from treatment, estimates suggest only half the people living with a mental illness actually get the help they need. What’s causing this problem and how do we fix it? That’s our topic today.

I’m Susan Brozek Scott and in this episode of Tell Me More, we’re talking with Don Laird, licensed psychotherapist and founder of eTalkTherapy.com, who can help us understand and overcome the barriers to mental health treatment.

SUSAN: Don good to be with you. (Music fades out)

DON: It’s a pleasure to be with you as well Susan.

SUSAN: Don, what are some of the hurdles – the immediate hurdles – to getting good, potentially life-altering and in some cases life-saving, mental health treatment today?

DON: Wow! That is a great question and so timely. Right now we’re at a cross roads. Promoting health and wellness for all is so important as we emerge from this pandemic. In fact, an adult conversation around the subject of mental health is long overdue. With the growing availability of telehealth, obviously accessibility is becoming somewhat less of an issue, but there remain problems associated with affordability and stigma. Often people think, “hey you know what, I’ll just suck it up. I’ll power through this. I’m just being lazy or I just need to get my act together. I’ll wait and see if things get worse.” Well, guess what? They don’t get any better. Often times, these things won’t improve over time. They won’t improve on their own and as helpful – sometimes – as friends and family can be, they usually give us advice – things we already know. Having an objective, non-judgmental, third party is essential when discussing your fears and anxieties.

The other piece is affordability. Some folks don’t have insurance but those who do, may actually be surprised that mental health is not covered in full OR may not be in their plans altogether. Of course self pay is always an option, but finding the right therapist – finding a therapist who can offer a generous sliding scale is key.

SUSAN: What are some of the steps a person can take to actually get through that maze and then getting the help that they need?

DON: Yeah, let’s talk about that because it takes – it’s an act of courage for someone to pick up the phone and call a complete stranger and make that first appointment. So ask questions – lots of them! Find a therapist who feels like a good fit. How long have they been a therapist? Ask about their experience with the issues your facing? Ask about how flexible scheduling is with them? Make an informed decision. Remember, choosing a therapist means taking the first step toward a better life and you want to choose wisely.

SUSAN: Is there a big difference in the types of therapy available online?

DON: Absolutely, Yes! Yes, yes, yes. Most everyone went online after the pandemic hit. Some of these practitioners and agencies were new to telehealth because they always operated out of an office before. At eTalkTherapy, we’ve been doing this since 2017. I started it toward the end of 2017, and of course when the pandemic hit, we were already established to be able to provide quality telehealth for all of Pennsylvanians. Telehealth providers should always be up front about their pricing, which insurances they accept and offer therapy through a HIPAA compliant portal or by phone. Ask questions, how long have they been doing telehealth, avoid services that offer subscriptions and therapy packages through texting or email. That’s one of the many things that separate eTalkTherapy with the other services that are out there right now. We’re a local, private practice. Not some big tech company with a text-based app. We conduct our sessions on live video streaming on a HIPAA secure platform. Susan, I can’t emphasize this enough, real therapy is not done through texting or email with complicated subscriptions and automated responses and there are some really significant ethical issues for those companies who practice this kind of service. At eTalkTherapy, we provide you with one-on-one therapy just like a traditional, in-office appointment. You’ll see a licensed counselor or a mental health therapist.

SUSAN: Don, if we haven’t been touched by this ourselves yet, is it safe to say that just about everyone knows someone in their family or circle of friends whose dealt with a mental health issue? I mean, how can we support someone we love when they are struggling and do we always see that struggle?

DON: I’m a big fan of Fred Rogers, Susan, and Mr. Roger’s always told us; he always said, look to the helpers. Look for the helpers in times of trouble or worry. Be patient and listen without trying to fix it. Be a parent, sibling, friend and/or partner first. Don’t try to be their therapist. Most of all, be kind. Everyone is experiencing this time very differently, and we should act accordingly with love, kindness and patience. The struggle is not always visible but it is there. (Music fades in)

SUSAN: Don Laird, licensed psychotherapist and founder of eTalkTherapy.com, thanks so much for helping guide us through these mental health challenges to live our very best lives.

DON: Thank you Susan, it was a pleasure.

Music continues…

This podcast does not provide medical advice. The content is for informational purposes only. Consult with your doctor on all medical issues regarding your condition and treatments. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional psychiatric or medical advice, diagnosis or treatment nor does it replace the need for services provided by a medical or psychiatric professional. Always seek the advice of a medical professional, psychiatrist or therapist before making any changes to your treatment.

Music fades out.

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