How to Find the Right Mental Health Professional - MedCircle

How to Find the Right Mental Health Professional

  • Why Mental Health Care Goes Beyond Your Primary Care Physician

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  • 1
    Therapy & Assessments: The Types of Providers You Should Seek
  • 2
    Medication Management: The Types of Prescribers You Should Seek
  • 3
    Peer Specialists, Social Workers, & Other Mental Health Resources
  • 4
    How to Find the Best Mental Health Provider For Yourself
  • 5
    Children's Mental Health: How to Find the Best Provider

Dr. Domenick SportelliLink forward arrow

Psychiatrist VS Psychologist?

If you or a loved one is in need of a mental health provider, where do you go? An important thing to think about is whom you are looking for. Dr. Domenick Sportelli (Dr. Dom) is here to clear it all up for you. This education narrows down your focus and make your search easier, faster, and more effective.

Do you want someone who can prescribe medications (psychiatrists)- the biological side, or are you looking for someone who focuses on the emotional or behavioral therapies (psychologists)- the mind side?

Perhaps you would benefit from both.

Regardless, an understanding of the array of mental health professionals (Certified Peer Specialist, Social Workers, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, etc) and the differences between them (psychiatrists vs psychologists), puts you in better control of your mental health.

You should also check with your insurance company to get names of mental health providers in your network. Find out what your coverage is for mental health visits. Depending on your specific condition, ask for doctors with the subspecialty you need. If you don’t have health insurance, go to your community mental health center. They will be able to point you in the right direction, and answer concerns you may have.

In this MedCircle series, double board certified Dr. Dom will walk you through what you need to know to make the correct choice for the specific mental health professional that is best suited for your needs.

Therapy and Assessments: Types of Providers You Should Seek

There are so many titles associated with mental health professionals that it can be a frustrating and confusing process. You can benefit by Dr. Dom's breakdown and description of the various providers. If your mental health issue does not warrant medication, then learn which professional label would work for you.

  • What is the difference between social workers and clinical social workers?
  • What benefits do therapists provide?

In this discussion, Dr. Dom will answer those questions by first describing what each title means. He then discusses what the requirements for each title are, and what type of training they have to complete to earn their degrees. The process of finding the correct mental health provider may take longer than you want, but it is important to find the one that can benefit you the most.

Medication Management: The Types of Prescribers You Should Seek

Finding the right therapist takes research, patience, and intuition.

If your mental health condition warrants medication ie -most people living with bipolar disorder are on medication to help with the mood disorder- then you need a professional who can prescribe medication.

Dr. Dom gives you information to seek out the correct health provider. Learn how you can benefit from having a team approach to your treatment. Perhaps your therapist can’t prescribe drugs, but you like seeing her and she is helping you with CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy).

Dr. Dom explains how professionals can come together and collectively help a patient obtain optimal mental health. Be sure to watch the MedCircle series on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

Psychologist vs Psychiatrist

Peer Specialists, Social Workers, & Other Mental Health Resources

Getting the help that you need is not limited to doctors or other mental health professionals.

Dr. Dom describes the benefits of Certified Peer Specialists. Learn how their “lived experiences” can help others who are experiencing the same issues. Dr. Dom also explains the differences between these Certified Peer Specialists and Social Workers.

In this series, discover out how a treatment team can also help you to achieve better mental health.

How To Find The Best Mental Health Provider For Yourself

You know that you aren’t feeling well, and you need help. Dr. Sportelli explains the course of action that you need to find that mental health provider.

  • Why does Dr. Dom say to call your primary care physician first?
  • What can they do for you, even though their specialty is not in mental health?

Dr. Sportelli explains the importance of that relationship between you and your primary doctor, and how that can help you.

  • Are searches online a good avenue to explore if you need a name of a mental health provider?

You may be surprised to learn which professionals are usually the first ones people call to get help.

Again, make sure that you ask what these professionals specialize in. If you are depressed, you need to make sure you are talking to a professional who can help you the most. If you are a young, single, depressed adult, you don’t want to seek help from a person specializing in marriage counseling. Dr. Sportelli explains what you should say if you are striking out and the people you are calling aren’t taking new patients.

It can be frustrating, especially if you are feeling mentally unwell. But, Dr. Dom gives excellent advice on how to handle that. Once you are in the office, you will most likely be given a psychiatric interview. Find out just what that entails, and the questions you will be asked.

  • How long does the first appointment last?
  • And what if you return for a second session, and you aren’t feeling that this is a good fit for you? How do you handle that?

You might be surprised in hearing how many therapists a person sees before they find the right one for them. Don’t be discouraged, keep looking until you find the right one.

Childrens’ Mental Health: How To Find The Right Provider

There is a shortage of mental health providers for children.

“The U.S. faces a growing shortage of mental health professionals trained to work with young people- at a time when depression and anxiety are on the rise. Suicide was the number 2 cause of death for children and young adults from age 10 to 24 in 2017, after accidents. There is only one practicing child and adolescent psychiatrist in the U.S. for about every 1,800 children who need one.” - Kaiser Health News

(Check out MedCircle’s series, “Depression In Children,” with Dr. Domenick Sportelli.)

This makes it especially difficult for people in some parts of the country to find the help that they need for their child. Dr. Dom guides you on a path toward getting the help for your child, no matter where you live.

  • How can your child’s school help you find a mental health provider? Find out what the 504 plan is, and if your school district pays for that.
  • Is it a good idea to talk to your child’s pediatrician when you are starting out on your quest for the right provider?
  • Are pediatricians equipped to help you?

Dr. Dom will discuss these topics. Learn what to say to your child to get them to see a therapist, and what not to say. If you have health insurance, call them to see if they cover mental health disorders, and if they can refer you to a person who can help.

Dr. Dom describes what an initial session would be like. What involvement do the parents play in their child’s sessions, if any. A parent is basically handing their child to a mental health provider. Dr. Dom discusses what a parent should be asking of this doctor or therapist.

Don’t be afraid to walk in with a list of questions. And as we discussed with the prior topic, if you as a parent don’t have a good feeling with a certain provider for your child, or if your child doesn’t, move on. Go forth with confidence and patience. Taking your time and knowing what to do will pay off in the end. Understanding the difference between a psychologist vs a psychiatrist is just the beginning.

We know this MedCircle original series, “How To Find The Right Mental Health Professional,” will provide MedCircle Members the knowledge and confidence to do just that.


NAMIKaiser Health News


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