Finding Therapists For Men
If you broke your leg, would you go to a hospital full of doctors, nurses and medical pros who were best equipped to help you out or would you try to take care of the issue yourself with home remedies, advice from your friends or the internet or just try to ignore the problem and hope the pain goes away? Obviously, you’d be headed to the nearest hospital.
So why don’t people treat mental health issues the same way they’d treat their broken leg? That’s where therapists come in. Whether it’s a psychiatrist, psychologist, marriage or family therapist, licensed professional counselor or a social worker, there’s a mental health professional with the skills and knowledge to treat whatever issues you’re having.
So How Do I Find The Right Therapist?
When it comes to finding the right therapist, it’s an incredibly personal process. “A good therapist, however you find them, is gold,” said Don Turner, MD, a private practice psychiatrist for 30 years in Atlanta. “A good therapist is nonjudgmental, accepting, and patient. Otherwise, our patients are just getting what they grew up with.”
According to Laurie Eldred, a licensed master social worker and therapist in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the first step to finding the right fit for you is to put in the time to research. “It’s important for people to read the therapist’s website or online directory profile to see what they’re saying about their area of expertise,” said Eldred.
You should also check that person’s credentials via the Department of Consumer Affairs for your state just to make sure everything checks out.
Once you find a local therapist who fits your needs and whose credentials check out, there’s another key step to consider. You’ll likely need to have a consultation call before you make that first appointment. Typically lasting only about 15 minutes, those consultation calls give the therapist an idea of your background, your goals and which issues you’re struggling with.
“During the consultation, you also have the opportunity to ask the therapist questions that are important for you to know about that therapist,” said Alisa Kamis-Brinda, a licensed clinical social worker and licensed psychotherapist in Philadelphia. “Some people are interested in knowing where the person went to school or what certifications or licenses they have. For others, knowing about their experience with their particular issue and the therapist’s success rate are more important.”
Once that consultation is out of the way, you’ll be free to schedule your appointment and get started on your treatment.
According to a recent Australian study entitled “Men In and Out of Treatment for Depression: Strategies for Improved Engagement,” even if men do push through all the stumbling blocks on the way to getting some professional help they’re less likely to keep up with their treatment.
Zac Seider, a psychology Ph.D. candidate at the University of Sydney and lead author of the study, said: “We’re getting more and more men into therapy, but lots of them are not sticking with it.”
What Options Do Men Have In Terms of Mental Health Treatment?
To combat some of the issues that prevent men from seeking treatment, mental health professionals have been trying some new and innovative ideas to get men to open up to their therapists during sessions.
That work started in the early 2000s with the National Institute of Mental Health’s “Real Men, Real Depression” campaign with a push for psychiatrists to change the language associated with treatment for men, calling it “coaching,” “consulting” or “training” instead of therapy.
Other mental health pros like Aaron Rochlen, a University of Texas professor of psychology, says that men might “go running for the doors if you ask them about their feelings and their mothers in the first five minutes,” and suggests things like walking and talking side-by-side instead of traditional face-to-face sitting appointments, giving men positive encouragement after significant emotional disclosures and forcing men to re-think what it means to be a “provider.”
Along with this shift in traditional treatment, the rise of technology has given men the option of getting help digitally. Called telepsychology by the APA, companies like TalkSpace and BetterHelp.com have risen to prominence over the past couple years as the momentum of online therapy continues to grow.
Nina Barlevy, PsyD, a clinical psychologist based in California, said she felt it was an excellent resource for clients. She added that patients messaged her about many of the same issues that would have come up during a face-to-face session and benefitted from easier access to care, especially in rural areas where therapists can be scarce and often overbooked. “[It is] a whole lot more appealing to be able to sit at your computer and type back and forth with someone,” Barlevy says.
How Can We Help Men Seek Treatment?
In the end, the most important thing you can do to help someone get treatment is to have an open dialogue. If someone’s struggling, start a conversation. Encourage them to put themselves out there and get some real help.
The real key is to encourage men suffering from mental health issues to break that social stigma and seek the help they need from a mental health professional. Breaking that damaging social stigma and opening up about issues might be the key to helping them deal with their struggles.