Decisions, decisions, decisions…

Decisions, decisions, decisions…. things to think about when choosing a Mental Health Professional

As human being, we all have times we could consider Mental Health Professional (MHP). For example, if….

-We feel overwhelmed and unable to function by changes or losses in our life.
-We feel a sense of helplessness and hopelessness; nothing will ever get better, there is nothing I can do about it and it is all my fault.
-We feel sad, down and lacking the energy to do the things we normally enjoy.
-Problems do not seem to get better, despite our efforts and the help of family and friends.
-We have trouble carrying out everyday tasks we need to care for ourselves or others.
-We have trouble concentrating on tasks.
-We worry excessively, to the point that we have trouble sleeping or are preoccupied with worry that is not productive.
-We expect the worst.
-We are on edge: feeling tense; having trouble breathing; have rapid heart rates.
-Our actions are harmful to our selves or those we love.
-We drink too much alcohol.
-We abuse drugs.
-We get argumentative and aggressive.

When we do so, it begs the question, how do I decide who to see?

The following are a few things to ask yourself about yourself when deciding on a counselor or therapist:

Is my issue physical, emotional, behavioral, cognitive or spiritual? Or a combination?

There is a myriad of MHPs out there these days: Licensed Professional Counselors, Clinical Social Workers, Pastoral Counselors Clinical Psychologists, Nurse Practitioners, and Psychiatrists. There is a great deal of overlap in what they do. LPCs and Clinical Social Workers are generally people with a Master’s or Doctoral degree and can provide support and guidance in a wide range of problems in living, including depression, anxiety, marriage and family problems, dysfunctional habits like over eating or smoking, substance abuse. Pastoral Counselors are focused on the way people’s behavioral, emotional and/or cognitive issues affect their Spiritual growth and development, relationships with God and others and are generally trained through programs like Clinical Pastoral Education programs that training hospital chaplains. Clinical psychologists and Psychiatrists are Doctoral Level professionals who have Medical or Graduate training in diagnosing and treating people with severe emotional, behavioral and or cognitive problems. Psychiatrists and advanced nurse practitioners are trained in Medicine and can prescribe medication as part of their treatment regimen. For more information on the various MHPs, see herefortexas.com, a Program of Grant Halliburton Foundation.

Is the person I am considering educated, trained and licensed by their professional licensing board to provide services?

Be sure the MHP’s education and training is from an accredited, respected program. All MHPs are licensed by the State of Texas in their respective field. You can check on their status through the Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council (bfec.texas.gov for Psychologists, Counselors, Social Workers or through the Texas Board of Medical Examiners for Psychiatrists or google psychologytoday.com and search for psychiatrists in San Antonio.

Are they experienced and trained to deal with my issues?

In some ways, professional licensure is not as important as education, experience and competence of the MHP. Feel free to as the MHP you are considering about their specific training, experience and success with your issues.

Questions like:
Where did you train?
Are you licensed?
How long have you been practicing?
What are your areas of expertise?
What kinds of treatments do you use?
Is there evidence to show that your type of therapy is effective for dealing with my kind of problem or issue?
Where can I find the research?
What do you charge?
Do you take insurance?
If I don’t have insurance, do you have a sliding scale of charges?
Are our schedules compatible?
Do they understand my issues, thoughts and feelings?
Do I feel safe with them?

Once the MHP’s credentials and competence are established, your level of personal comfort with them is important. A good rapport with your Mental Health Professional is critical. Choose one with whom you feel comfortable and at ease.

To find a MHP:
-Ask your PCP or another health professional.
-Call local or state association.
-Consult a local university or college department of psychology/ social work/ Counselling.
-Ask family and friends.
-Contact your area community mental health center.
-Inquire at your church or synagogue.
-Take them for a test drive- meet with the MHP you are considering in a get to know your session. They should be getting some background on you and you have a right to get background on them.
-One size does not fit all, if you are uncomfortable with the MHP, change.


  1. Reply
    Martha A Hernandez says:

    I so appreciate this blog. Thank you.

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