Therapy can help you resolve your problems, achieve your long term goals and ultimately, elevate the quality of your life.

Psychotherapy has been coming up in conversations with friends lately. So I spoke with Dr. Ana Dubey about when to engage with a therapist and how to find a good one.

Therapy is about resolving problems. People typically seek the help of a therapist when they have a problem that is too big or scary for them to manage and/or resolve on their own.

Some people need more support than others dealing with a similar issue. The subtle nuances of where that problem sits on your continuum, the layers of stress in your life and your motivation to address the issue affects the resources and level of support needed.

There is no right or wrong answer. It’s a matter of recognizing your own needs and getting the right level of support to address your problem, achieve your long term goals and elevate your life.

There are also categories of conditions that affect the type and the amount of help you may need.

1/ Neurotic:
Most people are neurotic some of the time even if they are a highly functioning person most of the time. Neuroticism refers to a personality trait common in worriers and those who are easily upset, often down or irritable and who demonstrate high emotional reactivity to stress.

How you cope with anxiety and stress matters too. Maladaptive coping strategies are neurotic behaviors that relieve your symptoms temporarily but don’t address the root cause of your problem. Examples include drinking, emotional numbing, gambling and social withdrawal. Maladaptive coping strategies interfere with everyday activities and keep us from reaching our long term goals.

2/ Borderline Personality Disorder [BPD]:
Borderline personality disorder is a mental illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image and behavior. People with Borderline Personality Disorder may engage in impulsive behaviors, such as excessive spending, binge eating, and risky sex. Reportedly, BPD occurs in only 2% of the population and often is a result of abuse, neglect, or separation experienced as a young child. However, it can also be triggered by significant life events such as the death of a child and/or other loved one. It is prevalent with other psychiatric problems, particularly bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, and other personality disorders.

3/ Psychotic Personality:
Psychotic personality such as Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels and behaves.

Finding a therapist takes a little work. Start with the directories on Psychology Today, Good Therapy or with your healthcare insurance to identify the therapists who practice close to your office or home. Your therapy appointments should be convenient so that you keep the appointments.

1/ Interview 3-5 therapists: You need to click with the therapist to feel comfortable sharing your secrets [aka: things that you may feel ashamed of or bad about] in order to get the biggest benefit from the sessions.

2/ Credentials: Many people have biases towards higher degrees and well known schools but the credential(s) and school(s) are less important than the relationship with the therapist.

3/ Experience: Experienced therapists also select their patients to ensure they can adequately support the patient and do their best work especially if they are a solo practitioner.

4/ Referrals and/or Research: Read online reviews and/or ask some of your friends. Someone you know likely knows them and can provide a character reference.

5/ Cost: Select a therapist and type of therapy within your budget. Check the network status of the therapist if you plan to use your health insurance, the types of therapy [group vs. private] covered by your policy and the number of sessions covered. Group therapy can be effective for substance abuse, eating disorders and other issues that benefit from group support.

6/ Gut: Did you get a good feeling from the person or not. If not, don’t force the relationship and find someone else.

Ten things that you can do to manage your mental health:

1/ Keep your commute short
2/ Keep the number of stressors in check
3/ Develop nurturing relationships
4/ Laugh
5/ Eat well
6/ Exercise regularly
7/ Read books
8/ Spend time in nature
9/ Get a pet or find another way to have animals apart of your life.
10/ Go to church for spiritual and/or community connection.