By Lois Caniglia
It hasn’t been easy for me to connect with a psychiatrist (pMD) or therapist. It took me a number of years before I could accept my mental illness. In my first set of blogs, I only scratched the surface of my failed relationships when it came to finding a psychiatrist (Dr Candyman) and psychotherapist. I went through three pMD’s before accepting my illness and ready to comply with an effective treatment. I find that just like diabetes, it takes time to find that right mode of treatment. My mental illness has been even more intense than that. I went through 3 pMD’s, 2 therapists and 1 support grp before landing upon the right treatment plan and counselor that could help me.
As a bipolar, I know that I can suffer with a love-hate relationship with my psychotherapist. I did not allow for proper closure when firing my last two therapists. Meaning, I stormed out of both offices, never to return again. My abrupt escalation of disappointments left me feeling ashamed, embarrassed, and guilty taking long breaks before trying another therapist.
Before being diagnosed, I have become an expert at burning bridges which alarmed me that something was wrong. It is really out of character for me to act in such a manner. I used to be a dependable, enthusiastic, and loyal employee up until then. The difficulty to maintain employment for more than 3-6 months warranted my seeking the appropriate diagnosis and effective treatment plan to return to a natural state of balance.
Here are some tips I can share when finding a psychotherapist that works for me.
1. Doc Candyman provided me with several therapist names for me. If he didn’t, I would have asked him myself. It has been my experience that an internist is not properly equipped to refer a psychotherapist.
2. ASK: I would ask a support group, a medical personnel in psychiatry or a case management worker. These are just a few of the professionals with the knowledge or experience who I find qualified in recommending a therapist.
3. I did my research. Once I had a few therapist names; I looked up their credentials. I called the office to find out if my insurance would cover. Some therapist advertise their specific specialty. Such as: counselor for bipolar, substance abuse, family counseling, etc. I also search psychotherapist patient reviews on websites.
4. I chose the therapist that was right for me. I shopped around before choosing my therapist that I have now. During our first few sessions, I wanted to get to know each other. I made sure there was a workable connection to our relationship. I told myself that I must be willing to accept the unexpected. If a little ‘tough love’ goes against my grain, I need to pause and not jump to my own conclusions. Which leads into my last tip.
5. Giving it time. I’ve only been with my new therapist for 7 months. My therapist provides me an evaluation survey on his effectiveness towards my wellness. It’s in my nature to be openly honest and straight-forward but that has frequently come back to bite me. I remain reserved in how I choose to handle my sessions. Still, I try to be honest with myself to ensure that I receive the most effective therapy I can.
I hope that you will find these tips as helpful as I have. I enjoy the feedback and comments from my readers. It ensures me that I am making a connection. I don’t have a bipolar/mental health support group that I can attend. Connecting with others who also struggle with some kind of mental illness would help in my own recovery.