Psychology VS. Psychiatry
Psychology or Psychiatry can be a good first place to start if you do not know where to begin.
Psychologists differ from psychiatrists in that they are not medical doctors. Psychiatrists can and often prescribe medicine. Therapists can not prescribe medication themselves and typically focus on talk-therapy, cognitive behavior therapy, and exposure therapy. There are many different types of psychologists with a vast range of specialists and techniques (eg. marriage counselor, focus in child psychology, focus on depression, focus on phobias, focus on exposure therapy ) etc. It is important to find a psychologist that can help you with your specific needs.
In my case, I began working in tandem with a psychiatrist as well as a therapist. I was lucky to find an amazing psychiatrist who did not shove meds on me and always took the holistic approach when possible. It took me several times to find a therapist that I liked, and I have seen several over the course of the past few years.
Finding the Right Provider
DO NOT be afraid to therapist "shop" if you have the ability to do so. Therapy / psychiatry is not one size fits all. You may find that you are not getting anything from your sessions and that is okay. Express it to your therapist and either see if it is something you and your therapist can work out, or if your therapist has any other recommendations on someone who would fit better with you. You will not hurt their feelings, I promise! However, I would advise to give your therapist or psychiatrist a chance if you do not like your session the first time. Rationalize with your self the real reasons you did not like your session. It could just be first time "awkward tension" between you and your new provider as you get to know them. I once had a therapist that I told myself I did not like and hated going to. After one month.. I never wanted her to leave!!
What Will Happen in a Therapy Session?
Honestly, it truly depends on your therapist and their therapy style. You should be able to get an idea of this by reading their biography or specialty from their website. Most therapists allow a free phone session before you come in to discuss their therapy style before you commit to seeing them. I've had a therapist who was very into "exposure" meaning, I put myself in situations that gave me panic attacks and she talked me through them. (This was not my cup of tea, by the way". My current therapist specializes in cognitive behavior therapy in which most of our sessions consist of me telling her my moments of anxiety, my thought process, and we work on ways to re-wire my train of thoughts. There are also therapists/psychiatrists who specialize in EMDR
which is a whole different method itself.
As far as my personal experience with my psychiatrist, our sessions went to me telling him all of my struggles and him coming back to me with solutions both holistic and pharmaceutical. I ended up eventually getting on anti-depressants which I was carefully monitored and coached through by my psychiatrist. Again, I was blessed to find an amazing psychiatrist who listened, was up to date on medical information, and didn't push drugs. It is so important to find a great psychiatrist like this!
If I see a psychiatrist will I be forced to take drugs?
Absolutely not! In fact, if your psychiatrist is forcing you to take drugs, you should find another psychiatrist. In my case, my psychiatrist presented me with options, explained the pros and cons, and left the ball in my court. The decision lies with you and if they are making it seem like it doesn't, move to another psychiatrist.
Finding a Good Provider
Now the fun part. How do I find someone I like? Calling, calling, and more calling. Unfortunately, at least where I am from (CA, United States) a lot of the good ones get booked up quick. I used https://www.psychologytoday.com/us
to find my psychiatrist and my current therapist. The good thing about this website is you can see everyone's specialties and if they are taking on new patients or not. You can message the provider directly through the website as well if you do not want to call. Most of the time, if they are full, they will put you on a wait list to get in.
I know that insurance can be a big issue for people, most therapists will see you with and without insurance. If a provider does not readily accept your insurance, it's a good idea to check with your insurance provider if they can reimburse you. Psychiatrists are more often than not covered by medical insurance.
College students - Definitely check to see if your college has a resource center for therapy and/or psychiatry, most of them do!
If you have any questions, DM me on Instagram @brbpanitattack and I will try to answer them all!