Women and Mental Health: How to Find a Therapist
Women face unique issues when it comes to mental health. Learn more about how you can find someone to help.

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Picture of a woman in counseling with her therapist Women and Mental Health: How to Find a Therapist

Your relationship is tanking, the kids are driving you crazy, you've gained a few pounds, and you're seriously down in the dumps.

Sound familiar? Don't feel you have to soldier on. Women have unique issues when it comes to mental health, and help is available.

Women are more prone to depression, anxiety, and eating disorders than men. Changes in hormones can severely disrupt their moods, and many suffer from having a negative body image.

If you feel you might benefit from some professional help, here are a few tips for picking a therapist.


Decide if you'd rather confide in a man or woman.

  • You may be more comfortable discussing menopause, postpartum depression, or domestic violence issues with a female. But a male therapist may offer a unique perspective for dealing with issues about men.
  • Bottom line, you need to feel comfortable with whomever you choose. A therapist should be nonjudgmental, patient, and accepting.
  • Ask your doctor, friends, relatives, professional organizations, or local mental health clinic for referrals.

Think about what kind of help you need.

  • To decide what type of counselor you need (psychiatrist, psychologist, marriage and family therapist, clinical social worker, professional counselor, etc.) talk with your doctor about what would be best.
  • For example, psychiatrists have medical degrees and can prescribe medicines. But some only provide medications and not counseling. Professional counselors usually have master's or doctoral degrees.
  • States require different certifications and licensing for counselors. Before you make an appointment, ask about his or her qualifications, license, and experience.

Ask how much will it cost and how long it will take.

  • Ask about fees when you make the appointment. Will you be charged for the first session? Is there a sliding fee based on your income?
  • Does the therapist accept your medical insurance? How many sessions will it pay for? Do you have to pay each time or will he or she bill your insurance? What if you cancel? Will you be charged?
  • How long will sessions take and how many are you likely to need? What kind of therapy will you be getting? What about emergencies? Can you call the therapist? What if he or she is out of town?

Ask how your progress will be evaluated.

  • What are the goals of your therapy? Will other therapies be used if the first approach isn't successful?
  • Will there be any side effects to your therapy?

Have a backup plan.

  • If you don't click with your therapist or you don't feel you're making progress, talk to your doctor. You may need a different type of therapy or a different counselor.
By Jenilee Matz, MPH, Staff Writer
Created on 07/22/2008
Updated on 05/04/2011
Sources:
  • Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies. Guidelines for choosing a therapist.
  • National Institute of Mental Health. Women and Mental Health.
  • American Psychological Association. How do I choose a psychologist who's right for me?
  • National Women's Health Information Center. Women's mental health.
Copyright © OptumHealth.
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