Once you’ve decided that you are ready to reach out for help, the next step is choosing the right mental health support for you. Picking the ‘right’ one can be a confusing task.
With the seamless integration and accessibility of the internet in our daily lives, most of us will reach out to our friend google and research information and resources to help us.
If you are a self-starter and believe that you have a high level of self-awareness then online self-help resources may be a good place for you to start. If you are experiencing what you would consider a mild level of distress, you may be able to resolve it on your own.
If you enjoy talking about your ideas out loud and like to work collaboratively, then finding a mental health professional may be the most effective route for you to take. If you are experiencing at least what you would consider a moderate level of distress, talking to a mental health professional is a good option to help you work through your distress and create an action plan to help you build the necessary skills to overcome it.
Once you have figured out if in-person or video counselling is right for you, the next step is to pick the type of mental health professional that would best suit your needs.
So what are your options?
There are three main differences between the levels of mental health professionals that is based on level of education. They are all able to provide continuous mental health care through talk therapy and are able to work with a variety of mental health challenges and any population. All mental health professionals are able to specialize in working with specific disorders or presenting issues such as generalized anxiety, depression, addictions, couples therapy etc. Below are the main differences between the levels of care.
NOTE: There are pros and cons to each level and should be considered on an individual basis for your unique needs and values.
Therapist/Counsellor or Registered Psychotherapist – Psychotherapists are required to be able to recognize all mental health disorders of their clients. Therapists can use different assessment tools for psychological disorders. Psychotherapists cannot diagnose disorders, but if the client would like, the therapist can refer their client to a psychologist for a one-time assessment. If a client requires medication, the psychotherapist will refer their client to their doctor.
Psychologist – Psychologists are able to diagnose disorders with the assistance of scientific assessments. Many psychologists also have knowledge of the different medications that are used for various mental health disorders. If a client requires medication, the psychologist will refer their client to their doctor.
Psychiatrist – Psychiatrists are able to diagnose and are also able to prescribe medication to their clients.
Another consideration is the fees for service. The ranges of fees can vary on an individual basis and can be affected by location and area of therapeutic specialization. Generally, psychotherapists have the lowest cost per session. Psychologists are considered ‘mid-range’ and psychiatrists historically charge clients the most amount of money per session. This is partly due to the extensive education and training that they have undergone to be able to accurately and safely diagnose and prescribe medication.
Finally, it is important to understand all the different aspects to consider in the field of mental health so that you can make an informed decision based on what is offered and what you need.