How can you find a qualified professional to provide you with depression therapy?
To answer this question you need to first answer another question; What is a qualified professional? There is not one simple answer to these questions.
Depression is a complex disorder that has both psychological and physical aspects. Thus, professional therapy will need to include both psychological therapy and medical therapy to truly help your depression.
For psychological depression therapy, you need to find a therapist that is trained in psychotherapy. The psychotherapist may be a psychologist, social worker, or counselor.
Of the psychotherapists who provide depression therapy, psychologists are the best trained. Although requirements differ from place to place, most psychologists have earned a Ph.D. degree and have completed one or two years of internship (supervised on-the-job training).
Generally speaking, social workers have less training than psychologists but more than counselors. Social workers usually have a masters degree. To be licensed they often are required to have supervised work experience.
Counselors typically have the least training, but nevertheless, can be very helpful when providing depression therapy.
Another consideration in finding a psychotherapist to provide depression therapy is experience. It helps to have a therapist that has gained an understanding of how to assist in depression recovery by providing psychotherapy to depressed people. Education is important but nothing takes the place of experience. The more experience the better.
To get experience in providing depression therapy, the therapist needs to have worked in an outpatient counseling office or clinic or in a psychiatric unit at a hospital.
A third consideration is personality. When seeking professional depression therapy, you need to find a therapist with whom you are comfortable. If you are going to be open and tell your therapist everything, you must be relaxed enough to talk.
You will not be comfortable with every therapist. Sometimes people's personalities clash. If you find that you cannot talk openly with a therapist, you need to find another therapist to provide you with depression therapy.
Sometimes, factors such as gender, race, and religion are important. If you have problems which you would not feel comfortable talking about with the opposite gender, find a therapist that is the same gender. Or you may find that you can talk more openly with the opposite gender.
Often people feel like a doctor or therapist that has the same cultural and racial background can best help them. If this is important to you, find a therapist that is the same race or is from the same culture to provide you with depression help.
Religion or faith may also be a factor you will want to consider when seeking someone to provide depression therapy. You may believe that only a therapist that shares your faith can really understand your conflicts and problems. You may also find that you don't trust someone that is a different religion. You fear receiving guidance which violates your beliefs. If this is true for you, try to find a doctor or therapist that is of like faith.
In addition to a psychotherapist, you need help from a physician trained in the biological and medical sciences. As has already been stated, depression is a complex disease. It involves both psychological processes and biological processes.
A therapist can help you deal with the psychological aspects of the disease. A physician is needed to help you deal with the biological aspects of the disease.
It is very important that you get help from a physician that is open minded and willing to consider new and innovative approaches to medical depression therapy. Psychiatry is a young science. There is much that we do not know about how disorders such as depression develop. Likewise, there is much that we don't know concerning how to treat psychiatric disorders.
As you select a physician to treat your depression, try to pick a doctor that is willing to consider new approaches. Find one that is willing to read concerning a new treatment and discuss with you whether or not the treatment is right for you. Depression and the effectiveness of antidepressant medication is influenced by many different biological factors.
Robert J. Hedaya, MD, in his book, The Antidepressant Survival Guide, points out that treating the medical aspects of depression comprehensively involves several medical specialties including nutrition, exercise, psychopharmacology, endocrinology, immunology, and gastroenterology. (p. 168)
It is very unlikely that you will find a doctor that is an expert in all of these areas. Therefore, it is important for your doctor to have an open mind and be willing to learn.
When trying to find a doctor to provide medical depression therapy, ask any doctor that you are considering if he or she is willing to read about new developments in the medical treatment of depression and help you evaluate the treatment implications for you.
Dr. Hedaya writes that your doctor should be "a medical partner who takes your problems seriously and is committed to working with you toward a solution....The important thing to keep in mind is that your doctor works for you. You are fully entitled to terminate the relationship whenever you like, or accept the help he offers and go elsewhere for the additional help you need. Just be sure that you don't terminate your relationship until you have a new doctor who can continue to prescribe your antidepressant medication." (p. 172)
To learn more about Dr. Hedaya and his book, The Antidepressant Survival Guide, visit his Web site, www.wholepsych.com. Psychopharmacologists are physicians who have specialized in the use of psychoactive medications. These are often the best physicians to provide you with medical depression therapy.
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