Individual Therapy

Also called psychotherapy, individual therapy is personal counseling with a trained therapist who listens to you and talks with you about your recovery journey. The goal of individual therapy is to improve your mental health or improve your relationships to others. Individual therapy can help you learn to understand yourself and to take care of yourself. A therapist can guide you through changes in your life and encourage you as you make progress.

Therapy can be provided by a variety of professionals, including psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, or counselors, among others. Therapists use a wide variety of methods, including dialogue, behavioral modification, music, artwork and relaxation techniques.


Group Therapy

Group therapy brings together a professional therapist with a small group of people. Group therapy traditionally refers to a psychodynamic model in which the group process brings about change for each group member. In recent years, group therapy has widened to include self-help support groups as well as skills-training groups such as anger management or assertiveness training groups. During a group session the others attending will offer support and advice from their perspective. Hearing from another person who has been through a similar situation can be quite helpful. The therapist will guide the group and help keep it on task.

How to Choose a Mental Health Therapist

Why is this choice so important?
Therapy is a collaborative process, so finding the right match – someone with whom you have a sense of rapport – is critical. After you find someone, keep in mind that therapy is work and sometimes can be painful. However, it can also be rewarding and life-changing.

Can a therapist share what I have said during therapy?
You can rest assured that all mental health professionals are ethically bound to keep what you say during therapy confidential. However, therapists also are bound by law to report information such as threats, intent to harm another person, or intent to do harm to self.

What are the steps to choosing a therapist?

1. See your primary physician to rule out medical causes to your problem. For example, if your thyroid is not working correctly, it can produce symptoms like depression.

2. After you know your problems are not caused by a medical condition, find out what the mental health coverage is under your insurance policy or through Medicaid (TennCare) or Medicare.

3. Get two or three referrals before making an appointment. Specify age, sex, religious background, or any other characteristics that are important to you.

4. Call to find out appointment availability, location and fees. Ask the receptionist:
    a. Does the mental health professional offer a sliding-scale fee based on income?
    b. Does he or she accept my health insurance?

5. Make sure the therapist has experience helping people whose problems are similar to yours. You may want to ask about the therapist’s expertise, education and number of years in practice.

6. If you are satisfied with the answers, make an appointment.

7. During your first visit, describe those feelings or problems that led you to seek help. Find out:
    a. What kind of therapy/treatment program does the therapist recommends;
    b. Whether it has proved effective for dealing with problems like yours;
    c. What the benefits and side-effects are;
    d. How much therapy the therapist recommends, and;
    e. Whether he or she is willing to coordinate your care with another practitioner, if you are personally interested in exploring credible alternative therapies, such as acupuncture.

8. Be sure the psychotherapist does not take a “cookie-cutter” approach to your treatment. What works for one person may not work for another.

9. Although the role of therapist is not to be a friend, rapport is a critical element of successful therapy. After your initial visit, take some time to explore how you felt about the therapist.

10. If the answers to your questions are yes, schedule another appointment to begin the process of working together to overcome your problems. If the answers to most of these questions are no, call another mental health professional from your referral list and schedule another appointment.

To locate a therapist click on one of these online databases:

1) Psychology Today

2) HelpPRO

3) Network Therapy