With the abundance of treatment options and mental health professionals, each promising different approaches and better results, finding the right care for you or a loved one can be an added stressor in an already challenging situation. Below, True Life Center’s Executive Medical Director, Dr. Krista Roybal, shares some advice to help individuals feel more empowered and less overwhelmed when taking the first step toward recovery and mental health care.
Q.) I’m finally ready to get help for my depression, but I’m confused as to whether I need a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, or counselor. Don’t they all do the same thing?
A.) First of all, I want to commend you for having the courage and awareness to seek help. Reaching out to any of the professionals you listed would be a good place to start. All have the training and insight to refer you elsewhere if need be, depending on the severity of your depression and the kind of support you are looking for. Generally speaking, you will need to see a psychiatrist (all of whom hold M.D.’s) if you are interested in exploring medication as part of your treatment. Psychologists, therapists, and counselors are differentiated mainly by their education, training, and licensure. As you begin making phone calls, inquire about the credentials, specializations, and treatment approach of each. It’s most important that you find someone you trust and feel comfortable with. If, after a conversation or initial session you find yourself thinking, “this person gets me,” that’s usually an indication of a good fit. If you’re still unsure, I recommend contacting a comprehensive treatment center like True Life, where all of the professionals you mentioned are under the same roof, and a team member can listen to your unique story before providing recommendations.
Q.) A friend suggested I attend rehab for my bipolar disorder. Isn’t rehab just for addiction?
A.) I’m guessing your friend is using the term “rehab” to refer to inpatient treatment programs (also known as residential treatment), which require that patients live-in the facility for the duration of treatment. Though a majority of inpatient facilities deal primarily in addiction, residential mental health treatment programs do exist. Whether or not inpatient is the right solution for you depends on a number of things including the severity of your illness, the stressors in your environment, your financial situation, and your treatment goals. If you’re looking to focus solely on recovery, without worrying about the distractions of daily life, inpatient programs offer a controlled environment, close supervision and highly scheduled days. Alternatively, outpatient mental health treatment centers like True Life typically offer programming that allows patients to spend several hours a day, several days a week at the facility. These type of programs, commonly called Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) are often more affordable than their residential counterparts, provide increased schedule flexibility, allow patients to maintain work and family commitments while receiving treatment, and give patients the opportunity to immediately incorporate what they learn at treatment into their real lives.
Q.) Therapy is expensive! Can’t I just talk to a friend about my problems for free?
A.) You’re right – good mental health care is not cheap, nor should it be. You are paying for the time and expertise of a professional who will remain objective and confidential while listening for understanding, encouraging independent thinking and self-reflection, and delivering feedback designed to promote long-term, sustainable growth. Your friends, wonderful as they may be, are simply unable to provide the same type of guidance. I encourage you to consider the cost of not seeking professional help. Ignoring or delaying treatment often comes at great personal cost in terms of job performance, broken relationships, physical health and more. Your life and wellbeing are worth investing in!
If you have any questions about mental health care, please give our admissions team a call at 866.420.1792. We are happy to assist you in finding the care you need, even if True Life isn’t the right fit.