Are you contemplating seeking help for mental health concerns, but are not sure where to start? You are not alone. Identifying and selecting a treatment provider and type of mental health service can be an obstacle to receiving help.
Before finding a provider, the first step is to identify what services you need. Most outpatient mental health providers offer one or more of the following: evaluations, testing, medication management, and talk therapy.
Psychological evaluations include evidence-based assessments, often with psychological tests, that help to identify symptoms and ultimately lead to a diagnosis. A diagnosis is necessary to develop a treatment plan and inform interventions. Evaluations can range from just one appointment to four or more appointments. Typically, the first appointment is an intake in which the provider will gather information about the symptoms as well as other information about you. The information gathered during the intake session will help the provider determine which psychological tests, if any, will be helpful.
Psychological testing can involve self-report multiple-choice tests (such as the MMPI-2) and tests that are administered in a one-on-one setting by the psychologist (such as IQ tests, neuropsychological tests, and projective tests). Testing is often administered to confirm, or rule out, potential diagnoses. No psychological test can be used alone to make a diagnosis. Psychological tests are tools that the psychologist uses in combination with clinical interview data and other sources of information.
Psychotropic medications can be prescribed to help manage mental health symptoms that interfere with daily functioning. A psychopharmacology evaluation is generally the first step to medication, followed by routine appointments to follow and maintain the medication effectiveness.
Therapy can be done in groups, as a family, as a couple and individually. Sessions generally consist of treatment goal setting and building skills to accomplish change. Therapy should provide a safe, supportive and confidential space to talk about symptoms and stressors while working towards positive improvement.
Once you have an idea of the service you need, the next step is to identify a provider.
Mental Health Counselor & Marriage and Family Therapist:
Psychologists hold a doctoral degree (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) in psychology. Psychologists are qualified to administer psychological evaluations and testing. Psychologists are also therapy providers.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors (M.D. or D.O.) who graduated from medical school. While some Psychiatrists do provide talk therapy, they are generally sought for psychopharmacology evaluations and medication management.
At Etheridge Psychology, we offer many of these mental health services in one location, including psychological evaluations, testing and therapy. Here are our provider specialties in a nutshell: