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Working with a Mental Health Professional


Dr. Patel
Mental health professionals provide a variety of options for care. Mr. Willis, can you tell us what to expect when working with a mental health professional?

Mr. Willis
Absolutely, Dr. Patel. Most mental health professionals offer a variety of counseling approaches, including:

  • Individual therapy
  • Group therapy, and
  • Couples or family therapy

Some mental health professionals even offer virtual or remote interventions. Of course, choosing an appropriate therapy option depends on the nature of the problem, the experience of the therapist, and the unique needs of the individual client or patient.

Patients should feel assured that whatever they discuss with a mental health professional is confidential. The only exceptions to this rule are when there is a serious threat of harm, either to the individual or to another identified person. Providers will review the limits of confidentiality with their patients before beginning any assessment or treatment.

Knowing what questions to ask a provider before and during an appointment can help patients feel like they're starting off on the right foot. Things to consider asking a provider include:

  • What are their credentials and experience? Do they have a specialty?
  • Do they practice a particular type of psychotherapy? What are the reasons or evidence supporting that type of therapy?
  • Do they have experience in diagnosing and treating the age group and specific condition for which treatment is being sought?
  • What are the goals of therapy? Do they recommend a specific time frame or number of sessions? How will progress be determined and what happens if you or the provider feel like you're not improving?
  • Will there be assignments to be completed between appointments? (and)
  • Are medications an option? If so, how will medications be prescribed if the provider is not a physician or prescribing provider?