Thursday, December 04, 2008

How'd You Find Your Therapist?

Did it take a while to find one that helped? Was it hard to find one? How did you find one? Did you do it through LDS channels (LDS Family Services, etc.) or did you just open the phone book? Do you go once a week; twice a week; once a month? Do you see a psychiatrist, psychologist, or a therapist? Are most therapists well-rounded --in that they do marital, family, and personal? Or is it better to go with just the personal? If you live in Utah, would you be willing to email me (happymeetscrazy at gmail dot com) the name of your personal therapist you adore?

If you can't tell from these very...ahem...leading questions, I've decided to seek out a therapist. I think this step has been long in coming, and I've finally seen that it's needed. Honestly, you can blame Brandon because it was his idea.
Conversation (not verbatim) over Thanksgiving weekend:
Brandon: I think you should get a therapist.
me: You think I need therapy!?
Brandon: Don't you?
me: Yeah. Crap. But I don't want your mother to be right about me!
Brandon: (laughs)

Personally, I blame my depression, emotional exhaustion, and inability to get over myself. Brandon just tipped the scale and made me see how important being emotionally healthy is --not just for me, but for our kids.

I'm not a stranger to counseling/therapy. Back in college, after a big break-up with a boyfriend I thought I might marry (which seems so crazy to me now), I met with my Bishop frequently for some counseling. I don't think either of us realized it, but he was giving me a much needed outlet for some clinical depression (which only lasted for about 3 months). Later, when Brandon and I were engaged, we did pre-marital counseling. It was the best wedding gift (compliments of Brandon's mother) we received! What better way to begin a marriage then by seeing if we should really get married? It was fabulous. When friends or acquaintances would hear we were in counseling (and not even married), they were flabbergasted. I think we were still in the tail-end of the whole "counseling is evil because it means something is wrong with you!" taboo (which I hope is being eradicated swiftly). As an MFHD (marriage, family, and human development) major, I knew the questions and gasps/awkward looks were totally stupid. Stupid? Yes, very stupid. Couples spend so much time and money on what they are going to wear the day of their wedding, but how is that going to help their marriage long term?
But this wasn't meant to be a rant on how engaged couples miss the point...what was it about?
Oh, right.
So, here I am again. Probably seven years late (my first bout of PPD --post partum depression --was after #1 was born), but at least I'm going to take the plunge and get some third party objectionable point of view. Perhaps my random venting could be hurled the therapist's way and then I won't feel the need to blog...?
Hahaha! Yeah, right.
Anyway, I'm hoping to find someone great; someone who really listens; someone who won't make it worse. So, tell me, dear reader --how do I go about doing that?

P.S. Thanks!
P. P. S. If you have friends/family that have had success in therapy, send them my way, too!


brenbot. said...

I'm going to email you a bunch of info. Sometimes I feel like I am an expert in receiving therapy. Love you and very proud of you for making this decision sister.

Grandma Rozla said...

I know a GREAT therapist - only you'd have to come to Montana! I admire your strength to get some help. Good luck. Love ya

Weatherspoon Family of 6 said...

My sister in law has gone to a ton of Therapy in that area... She has someone that she loves I will look it up and e-mail you the name or something...

Lizzie said...

First off, unfortunately I have no referals to offer. Darn! Sorry!

But, I can give you some advice on finding the right person: Names and referals are, of course, a great place to start. But remember that not everyone is the same, and you need to find a therapist that works best for you. Some tips:
1. Make sure you are completely comfortable opening up with this person. Otherwise, it's a waste of money. You can tell half-truths to your family and friends for free.
3. Hoe often you go should be something that you and the therapist decide, but really not one or the other. Trust the knowledge of the expert, but make sure you are comfortable with it. If you honestly don't feel the need to go as often as they recommend (and it's not just that you're feeling defensive), make it known. And if you are feeling like you really need more time, say that as well. If the professional is not willing to arrange the therapy around what you are comforable with, they are not the professional for you.
3. Find someone who shares your treatment philosophy. In highschool I went to see a therapist for the first time, and after talking talking to me for 2 hours she started discussing my medication options. Now, I have absolutely NOTHING against the use of medication, when needed. If there is a chemical problem in the body, you solve it, simple as that. And some therapist have the philosophy of trying the chemical angle first, and if that is not the problem, you try the next angle, and so on and so on. Which is fine. But I had just gotten over an addiction to sleeping pills for my chronic insomnia, and the idea of jumping onto another pill before trying out other options was scary. I should have just said right then that this therapist (ok, since she could administer drugs, that would make her a psychiatrist, right? Or something like that?) was not a good fit for me. But being passive agressive as I am, I simply "forgot" to make an appointment with her over and over and over until the problem simply floated away... not the most helpful solution. So, moral of the story: find someone whose overall treatment plan is something you are completely comfortable with. If you are not both in sinc, the treatment won't work and you'll be wasting your money.
4. Of course, put away any guilt or shame over seeking professional help. You're right, there seems in this area, and especially within church members, a bad stigma with therapy. Maybe it's that people think that if you have a problem, you should simply turn to God for the answer. What people forget is that most times God solves problems through other people. A therapist is a person. People do not feel shame when they go to the doctor with an illness. But shouldn't they have had faith that God would heal them? Well, He did, through the doctor. Again, same thing with the therapist...

Ok, I guess that's the only advice I have right now. Sorry if my words are weird or don't make sense, I'm a little off right now. The chronic insomnia I described before is once again at full force, and for the last three days I've been in a bad cycle of sleeping two hours and barely eating (no appetite, I don't know if my body is shutting down from lack of sleep...)Anyway, my heads sort of not here right now, but I did want to comment on this, because I'm a big supporter of therapy, when needed. Or heck, when not needed, because really, who couldn't use someone to talk to? I get annoyed when so many people throw around the phrase "I have depression", but they're not actually seeking treatment, which means either A)they don't really have depression, they just have bad days like everyone, or B)they do have depression but for some reason have decided not get treatment. That's as lame as saying "My diabetes is acting up!" when someone is not diagnosed or getting treatment, so either A) they don't really have diabetes, they just get cranky when their blood sugar is low, lke everyone else, or B)they DO have diabetes, but would apparently rather slowly kill themselves than treat the problem... So, I'm sort of a hypocrite, since I should problem be getting some treatment right now myself, but it's almost physically painful for me to ask for help from anyone, about anything, so I'm just going to be stupid for a while longer... Anyway, end of my therapy rant, kudos for taking the first step, and just know I support you and look at you as a bigger person than me for actually saying "Hey, you know what, I COULD use a little help, thanks!". Good luck and keep use updated on your search for the right person.

Biff said...

I thought I said "you need a *dentist*!? :)

Basically, anything that will help us use all of our cafeteria plan money before the end of the year...

But, come to think of it... yeah, maybe you do need a therapist.

Lizzie said...

Funny, "Biff" ;)

Now that's the support she needs!

Christy said...

Misti may have some suggestions for you in that area.

I agree that you are taking a very good step. I am also a MFT major...and a HUGE supporter of therapy when needed. It has nothing to do with you being crazy or depressed - it has everything to do with keeping you healthy and your family healthy in every realm...physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Good luck!! Don't forget to pass on the good advice to your "crazy" friends :) ha ha!!

Becky, I have a cat said...

(((((HUGS))))) to you. No advice on a therapist since I self medicate with baked goods and beer. I'm my world most problems can be ignored in the company of a cinnamon roll.

cornnut32 said...

i have a few suggestions!
1. since you live in provo, see if cheryl cozzens (she's a social worker and is AWESOME) is still at the UVRMC outpatient psychology dept. i highly recommend her.

2. go check out this link at fmh.

3. and here is my advice!

having seen a number of counselors in my lifetime (in the double digits, holy cow) and i have found what really works for me. a lot of the counselors i have seen i only saw a couple times. they didn’t help me at all.

the biggest thing is this: figure out what motivates you. counseling is hard work. VERY hard work. especially if you really want to make progress and change your thought processes/behavior. if religious topics motivate you, find a counselor that is of your same religious background that uses it in therapy. i had a counselor that did this–didn’t really do much for me. if you need someone to be sweet and loving and kind, find someone like that. for me, i needed someone who wouldn’t take my excuses. who was straightforward and blunt–even when it hurt my feelings. (tactful, but blunt!) and i found that i identified with a female counselor better, although i have had male counselors that have been good too.

find someone that you really enjoy talking to. someone that you feel understands what you are saying, and not just on a surface level. do not settle for the first, or second, or even third counselor you see if you haven’t found something you are 100% happy with. your mental health is much more important than worrying about offending the counselor, or a lack of desire to go looking.

the other thing i would suggest (and this depends on why you are going to counseling) is a group therapy setting. i was in counseling to deal with sexual abuse i endured as a child, as well as depression. as i had learned to deal with things better and had progressed, i did both individual and group counseling. that group counseling experience made a HUGE difference in my recovery. there were others out there that i could talk to and share experiences with, heal with, and be friends with. suddenly i didn’t feel so alone.

flip flop mama said...

Good for you for taking this step! ((HUGS)) I've only been one time so I can't offer you any advice just support. Good for you!

The Wiz said...

Good for you. I am a firm believer in good therapy. Do not be afraid to shop around, although that is really hard. I mean, making one appointment is hard enough, getting more than one? Eek. But it really is so important to get the right fit. Hopefully you'll get someone great right away, wouldn't that be awesome?

Pray, pray, and pray some more. You'll be led to where you need to go.

Amber said...

Yeah, just find someone that you feel comfortable with.
1st time I got a referal from my bishop.
2nd time it was a "I need to talk to someone TODAY!" and so I looked up someone in the phonebook. If I remember right she was with LDS family services in Bountiful.
I liked both of them. I only quit going to the first one because he moved his practice back to Salt Lake and darn it if I can't remember his name. The second one I'd go back to if I need to.

Cheryl, my advice would be don't think about how much it is costing. I had a hard time with that BUT you have to think about how your emotional state is COSTING your family.
Both of the therapists sugested meds right off but I just told them that I'd like to just talk first and see how that worked for me. They were both good with that.
Therapy helped me: A- get things off my chest to a non-involved person. And get their perspective.
B- Helped me to realize how good I had it. In a very kind way.
Good for you, taking this step. And no, it doesn't mean you're crazy. Just in need of guidance and direction. And aren't we all in need of that? :)

Mother of the Wild Boys said...

Just voicing my support of therapy...wish I had more advice, but I think everyone else has it covered. ;)

Just call me when you start therapy, and we can compare notes. :)

Annette Lyon said...

I have no advice--but this is a question I should have asked myself lots of times. I've just chickened out. Way to be strong.

Cheryl said...

Awesome, awesome, and more awesome. Thank you!

Keep it coming!

Cristy said...

I'm all for counseling if it works for whoever wants it! Jim and I have talked about it several times in our marriage, and though it's never got to that point, it's good to know we're both open to it. My sister actually started seeing a therapist about a month ago, a guy who lives in your stake I think, and she loves him. I could find out more info if you want. Also, my brother at BYU is a Psychology major, and knows a lot of great BYU professors who he could probably recommend as well. Let me know if you want me to dig around a bit. Go Cheryl.

SilverRain said...

I don't know if referrals work for the same reason that referring a pair of jeans doesn't really work. A therapist is custom-fit. I would suggest going through insurance-covered channels, if you have any, and then LDS resources if you don't (because they are only $70/hour.)

My biggest advice would be to NOT BE AFRAID TO CHANGE therapists if at ANY POINT in the therapy you feel the relationship is damaging. Talk about it with your therapist first, of course, but stand up for yourself. Bad therapy is more damaging than good therapy is helpful.

TaLaisa said...

I am a firm believer in therapy. It is awesome. And unless the people giving weird looks and analyzing your life are willing to offer a listening ear without judgement, they can shush. Or you can choose to ignore their looks, because they don't have a clue.

My DH works in the Mental Health field, from what we've spoken about are you surprised?

Psychiatrists can prescribe medicine. I think that psychologists spend more time in school than a therapist. I'm not positive though.

When I had my first bout of depression (in college) I went to an on campus counselor, weekly. It was awesome. And I got a bunch of the "WHAT?" looks when I told people, so I just didn't. I needed it, they couldn't understand so why frustrate myself and confuse them more by trying to explain it.

Later when I had my first I got PPD. DH asked one of the Dr's at work and he made a recommendation. She worked at LDS social services, my bishop made a recommendation and I went to see her weekly for about 2 months. It helped immensely. She was diagnosed with cancer and quit, I was very sad.

I would love to go to therapy again. Weekly. But it can be costly. Especially without insurance coverage. So I blog and whine to friends and it seems to help a lot.

My mom and sister both saw a psychologist in Provo. They loved her, she had an off campus practice after school hours. Her name is Lanae Valentine. Check and see if she is still around.

bythelbs said...

What, my "Get over yourself, Cheryl!"s aren't doing it for you?

Good luck!

FoxyJ said...

We had a somewhat bad experience with a therapist who more or less guided us to get divorced. He had been recommended by our bishop, too. It took us both a while to recognize that his approach really wasn't working for us, but now I'm a little nervous about therapy. Like people said, make sure that you spend your first appointment figuring out goals and that you and your therapist are on the same page as to what you want to accomplish.

Michelle Walker said...

First and foremost, I absolutely love you. I decided to get a therapist this year in provo. Her name is Leslie Miles. She has been wonderful. I come from crazy town sister, so when I say she's good I mean it. I cannot express into words the benefit having a therapist has been. Her approach to therapy is different. I have been through a couple of inexperienced therapists and I am really beyond the whole, "so how does that make you feeeeel?" approach. You would like her. I just know that. Please don't be afraid of considering medication either. It is such a "taboo" and I know so many people feel like if you just read the scriptures a lot depression will go away. Well, my opinion is that is kind of like when your arm gets cut off and you open the scriptures thinking it will heal. Not to be blasphemous, because that's not my intention. I just see depression as a very real illness.

I had a wonderful LDS doctor in Oregon who graduated from Harvard who suggested to me I might be depressed. He explained to me that depression is very much like diabetes. When a diabetic cannot produce enough insulin, the need to supply their body with it. When a person has depression their brain is not uptaking the seratonin that is in their brain, nor is it producing enough of it. Having been on antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs I will tell you they are not a happy drug by any means. You still feel sad when it's appropriate, etc. It just clears your thoughts from this darkness that by the way---you are so used to you won't realize how bad it was until it's gone.

You'll try to say, "well I'm a functioning human being I get things done. I do feel happiness." But that doesn't mean you're not depressed. This wonderful doctor of mine told me depression can be situational, and the drugs help to retrain your brain and system what being happy feels like again, and then they wean you off. My life has oddly been one string of unfortunate events after another, so the jury is still out as to whether or not the depression is circumstantial, or if it's here to stay. But either way, I can tell you therapy from Leslie, who is LDS, edgy, insightful, very intune will help you.

Keep your head up sistah.

This generation of women deals with things our mothers in law do not understand. Satan's tactics are different and our challenges are harder. Maybe the last generation could keep a pristine home and have 6 kids and they just don't understand why things are so hard for us. The internet, the amount of child molestations, abductions, affairs, evil in general has gone up. Never before has the profession of motherhood been more spit upon and degraded.

Just know Cheryl, you could be published, you could be a doctor, a lawyer--you have that kind of mind. It's hard to look at your life and think, "I clean up peoples uneaten food and scrub dirty toilets. That's my life." Just remember the power in that you CHOSE motherhood. Remember that your children are so righteous that they were held back for generations and God gave them to YOU. YOU with that brilliant brain to nurture and teach and protect them.

Arm yourself with the insight of a good therapist. Sometimes it needs to come from someone other than your husband or mother.

Take courage.

Cheryl said...

Girl, you made me cry! Stop it!

Oh, and just to clarify, my MIL has been trying to convince me to get therapy for years. I guess I didn't want her to be "right" because then it would mean I really do need help. See? It's that crappy stigma again.

An LDS marriage counselor counseling a married couple --who obviously wants to stay together or why would they be in counseling? --to get divorced? Yeah, that's whack.

Seriously you guys --this has been so helpful! I'm almost on overload with all the information, but it's been good. You are great friends and great people. Thank you!

(and if there's more to share, share away!)

jendoop said...

Just wanted to add my support and encouragement. Admitting that you want to go to therapy can feel like a huge label to take on.

Right now I'm on the long road to becoming a therapist (about 15 years after I initially started college). Some LDS people still don't understand the need for therapy- the old 'read your scriptures and pray' approach. Which is why it is great for every one of us who have been there to announce the wondrous results even when we were already reading our scriptures and praying.

My analogy is this: It's like driving to Texas, if you don't use a map you can probably get there by generally heading south and asking directions. But using a map will get you there more quickly and with fewer painful detours.

And as for the difference between all those psych professions-
A counselor is more about helping you with life choices, career, etc.

A psychiatrist is a psychologist with a medical degree thus the ability to prescribe meds.

A psychologist and a therapist generally have the same amount of schooling. The difference probably would be their theories about what will help you. There are all kinds of variations on these professions, asking about what their thesis was, what kinds of people they see(age, gender, religion, specific issues,etc.) or what kind of research they participated in while in school can help you understand their emphasis areas. Most of all I believe there needs to be a connection with your "helper", you decide what kind (you know- friend, authoritarian, mother figure), but if that rapport doesn't exist it will stymie your progress.

Lizzie said...


I know you were commenting for Cheryl's sake, but your last words have really had an impact on me. When you say: 'It's hard to look at your life and think, "I clean up peoples uneaten food and scrub dirty toilets. That's my life."', that's been my thoughts for so long, and esecially this week. I never imagined my life sitting at home, and I always dreamed of so much "more". Lately I've found myself lost in fantasies about the life I wish I had, so much so that I've become angry when something in the real world breaks the bubble of my spell and I'm forced to face reality and leave my imagined world behind, even for a moment. I've been thinking about your words today, trying to keep myself from being pulled into the fantasies once more. Again, although you were saying them Cheryl, I think that perhaps many of us need to here that sometimes. So thank you.

The MIL said...

Cheryl, I'll just add my two cents and say that I'm glad that you've decided to do this and I'm also glad that Brandon went out on a limb and encouraged it. I love my family very much and it is frustrating to see them struggle when there is help available. Having been plagued with clinical depression for many years, I know how debilitating it can be, not only to yourself but to your family. I am forever grateful to a co-worker who recognized my symptoms (because he had also been treated for depression in the past) and insisted that I get the point that he helped get me an appointment. It was like a whole new world opened up for me once the depression was under control. You've been given some really good advice from your friends. And I hope you know you will always have loving support from the Mortensen side of the family... because we've had our fair share of experience with this!

Alison Wonderland said...

No idea, but I hope it works out for you.

madhousewife said...

The advice you've gotten thusfar is probably better than any crap thing I could think of. I've always gone with luck-of-the-draw for therapists, and I've always gotten lucky. Except for this one lady, who was kind of annoying. At least at the time she was. But I didn't see her but once.

I just wanted to say good luck. I will send you good therapist-choosing karma.

I also wanted to say that I think it's cool that you had couples counseling before you were married. That is so smart. I'm sure my husband and I would have benefited from doing that, but he would never have gone, so that's neither here nor there. : P

But you are so right--all that money for the dress and catering and photos, but nothing for the actual marriage: it is for stupid.

sariqd said...

I knew there was a reason why I kept you on my google-reader... I need to get a therapist of sorts too. But not knowing how to "get" one has been keeping me from getting one. Oy. Thanks for this post - and thanks to all the wonderful comments here too... I don't feel so alone in wanting some help to get my head straight anymore.

Ethan said...

Well, as a therapist, let me say that if any therapist has ever tried to talk you into getting divorced, they were a bit out of line. A therapist's job is never to make decisions for you or try to get you to do something you don't want to do.

As for finding a mental health care provider, the first thing you need to do is decide what you are looking for.

Psychiatrists are MDs and are able to prescribe medication, but very often psychiatrists focus on the psychopharmacological aspects of treatment and don't do talk therapy themselves. Sessions are often 15-30 minutes at the most where they review your meds and how they are working for you. I am sure there are some exceptions, but that is the general idea behind them. Often, it is required by your insurance or by the psychiatrist that you be seeing a therapist in conjunction with their treatment of you.

Psychologists (Ph.D. level clinicians) are next up and often deal with a variety of issues but the charge a Ph.D. level fee. They may specialize in a variety of issues and tend to focus on the individual in the office.

Do not confuse the term "psychotherapist" with a psychologist or psychiatrist. While they both are psychotherapists, many masters level clinicians also claim that title as they are therapists working with the psyche.

Masters level clinicians come in all shapes and sizes and degrees. Social work, counseling, psychology, marriage and family therapy, and a host of other degrees are out there and each state licenses them in different ways. While states have educational requirements for licensure of these professions, different programs and graduate degrees focus the education in different areas. All masters level clinicians are competent in basic individual therapy.

While Ph.D. and Masters level clinicians cannot prescribe medications, that does not mean you are out of luck. A good therapist will help you work hand in hand with a physician (your primary care or family doctor) to help you be evaluated for medications that can help with mood or anxiety. And there is nothing wrong with having to take those medications any more than there is something wrong with having to take insulin for diabetes or wearing eyeglasses for a vision problem. Working with both a talk therapist and a physician for medication as appropriate is a fantastic combination.

My field is marriage and family therapy. I chose this because I want to help families and couples. I see a number of individual clients as well. I was drawn to this field more than others because of the critical role that I believe family plays in our development, both past and current. I wanted that slant to my clinical work and education.

All therapists should be sensitive to the individual distinctions and the unique considerations of any special population which would include religion, among a number of other categories. However, working with someone who is more intimately familiar with the specifics of the LDS religion can have its advantages. However, it can have its disadvantages as many people make great assumptions that when it comes to the "Mormon Culture" and how members of the LDS church live within it. Again, any good therapist won't make such assumptions, but no one is perfect.

To find a good LDS therapist, you can certainly go through LDS Family Services. From what I have heard, you no longer have to go through your bishop to be seen there. They prefer you do, but it is not required.

However, there are a number of good LDS therapists that don't work for LDS Family Services. AMCAP, the Association of Mormon Counselors and Psychotherapists maintains a website that their members can choose to be listed on: That is a great resource although it is obviously more helpful in some areas than others and not all LDS therapist choose to be listed or are even aware of AMCAP.

The other place I would check with would be your bishop. He may know of some therapists in the area who either are LDS or are familiar enough with the church that they won't need much help/interpretation from you with your concerns that may have to do with LDS issues or Mormon culture.

If you are willing to branch out and blindly try a therapist, most governing organizations maintain databases of their members. For example, marriage and family therapists are required to maintain membership in the AAMFT, the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, which maintains which is a great resource for finding an MFT.

The American Psychological Association hosts to locate their affiliated therapists and psychologists. I am sure other organizations have something similar but I don't know them off hand.

One last note about something that was said above regarding "fit" with your therapist. Certainly you need to be comfortable talking with the therapist, but if you don't quite like their approach or style, ask them about it. We are trained in a variety of theories and approaches. Give the therapist the opportunity to adapt and learn from you what you need before you bail out and look elsewhere. You may be pleasantly surprised at their adaptability and save yourself from having to start your search all over again.

I hope this helps you and the other readers who mentioned they were in the search for a good therapist.