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HOW TO CHOOSE A THERAPIST | Therapist Sherman Oaks

Need a Therapist Sherman Oaks or and Los Angeles area? You know you need hep but where do you start? What kind of help?How do you know if someone is good, or more importantly, “a good fit”? There are many things to consider when choosing a therapist.

First, it is important to have a clear understanding of the professional qualifications of a therapist and what exactly the letters after their name really mean. What degrees/licenses do they hold?

An M.D. (medical doctor, as most are aware) is psychiatrist and is at the highest level of education of a therapist that you can see. However, this does not necessarily make this professional the best choice. For one thing, they will be the most expensive. In the 40’s and 50’s, most psychotherapy was done by psychiatrists and the most common modality was psychoanalysis. This took lots of time and money. Most people, these days are not capable or interested in this sort of therapy. These days few psychiatrists engage in extensive long term treatment. Mostly they focus on areas such as evaluation for possible hospitalization or the prescription of psychotropic medication.

Next are psychologists. They hold a Phd. in psychology. They have done some primary research as well as having had extensive education with regard to secondary research (studies, that others do). They are qualified to do testing.

Two other types of psychotherapists are LMFT’s and LCSW’s. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Clinical Social Workers hold Master’s degrees in their respective fields. Some therapists work especially with children or families. Some work exclusively with couples. Some work with groups or individuals. Some are generalists. Another issue to consider is what that person’s specialty or experience is and how long they have been in practice.

As in any profession, when someone specializes in one area, they will have more knowledge, experience and expertise as well as comfort and confidence in that area. So, as one psychiatrist states, “If I were on an elevator with a woman who suddenly went into labor, I could deliver the baby, but she would much rather have her obstetrician do it. ” Each field has it’s own regulatory board. The AMA, American Medical Association for doctors, the APA, the American Psychological Association for Phd’s. and for LCSW’s and LMFT’s, there is the BBS, Board of Behavioral Sciences.

And then, and this is most important, there is the “human factor”. This pertains to the “vibe” of the particular professional in question. Let’s say that you have checked the person out and that they come highly recommended, but that upon meeting them or speaking on the telephone, there is something “off” In other words, even the most accomplished, educated and successful psychotherapist may not be right for you. TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS! If the first encounter goes badly, it is likely that it will not change. Most therapists do offer at least a 20 minute telephone session (gratis) so that you can check them out. Don’t be afraid to ask for their license number, their educational background and their experience.

Remember, even if you only work with this person for 3-4 months, it is a very personal relationship. It is important that you feel comfortable, so that you can make the most of the help that they can provide. You can ask your primary care physician as they are often a good resource for a referral. In fact it is probably good to get 3 referrals and compare how you feel with each of them. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a few tries to find the right fit. It is worth it!

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12 Step Therapy – What’s next? | Therapist in Los Angeles & Sherman Oaks

If you are searching for a Therapist in Los Angeles or Sherman Oaks, Linda Engel can help you with your 12 step therapy success.

So, you have finally committed yourself to your 12 step program (AA,NA, Al-anon, SLAA,OA). You have followed all the rules. You have gotten a sponsor, done your readings, attend meetings regularly and you are even at the point of being of service in that community, but somehow, something is missing.

Every once in a while, some of the symptoms that you have tried to manage for so long by self medicating begin to arise and become troublesome. People get caught up in addictive behavior for a variety of reasons. Some people may have a biological predisposition towards addiction. Hence, if you have had a biological relative (whether you were raised with them or not) who suffered from addiction, you may be more prone towards it than the general population.

There may be “modeling” of certain behaviors. For example, if you saw family or community members who typically coped with the stresses of life by excessive use of substances (alcohol, drugs, food) or behaviors (shopping, sex, gambling), then you will be more likely to succumb to those behaviors as well.

Multiple other factors can be involved. Undiagnosed learning disorders, add/adhd, difficulty accepting one’s sexuality, abuse, neglect or overindulgence during childhood. Overindulgence contributes to the “lie of addiction” which goes something like this. “I can’t stand this pain, hard work, difficult transition, etc. ”

At times, addictions are culturally sanctioned. As one alcoholic states, “When you work really hard, you have to go crazy once in a while”. There may be pressure at work/school to overindulge as a way of fitting in. As a college student recently told me, “In college, it is normal to behave as though you are alcoholic, these days. You’re weird if you don’t drink a lot”

12 step programs do address some of these issues, but at times there are deeper issues that remain. If a person is dually diagnosed (an addiction along with another disorder), they may be pressured by their

12 step community to ignore the other disorder. This can be dangerous.

Sometimes it takes a psychiatric professional to determine whether that person needs more intensive treatment like medication, individual psychotherapy or even temporary hospitalization in the case of suicidality or major mood or thought disorders.

Working with a therapist along with the 12 step program can be a very helpful combination. It is very important¬† for someone in a 12 step program to locate a therapist who has a healthy respect and familiarity with how the self help community works, including it’s limitations. A therapist of this sort can help guide an individual through times of crisis in which the self help program is not enough.

Conversely, working with a person who is involved in a 12 step program can make the therapy much easier. The two work very well in conjunction with each other to promote psychological health. So, why not take THE NEXT STEP and add psychotherapy with a 12 step therapist to your toolbag of recovery?