I looked through this blog, and I found nothing in it that I would consider a thing about how to help a patient shop for a therapist. If you’re one of those individuals who’s experiencing mental health issues because of the pandemic, here’s your place to learn about what to look for in a therapist that might befit the needs of someone, especially someone with a disability. I wrote a couple years back, maybe three or so, about what treatment providers can expect as they treat blind and disabled patients, but I want to talk about finding a therapist whether you’re doing this for the first time or doing this therapist shopping thing for a third time, fifth time, whatever. So here are some questions you should ask your therapist, especially without stepping on HIPAA.
First and foremost, is the therapist willing and able to work with disabled women without blaming the disability for their mental illness? Some people actually blame disability for mental illness, but certain factors such as trauma can cause mental illness. Take it from the patient who’s been there, done that, don’t like to necessarily go back and forth about it.
Is the therapist friendly and able to establish rapport with you? If the therapist feels awesome and starts establishing rapport with you, great. But listen to your guts as you should be doing with everybody anyway. If your gut feeling is that the therapist is not clicking, that’s okay. Move on to the next one.
Does the therapist have good credentials of any sort? Usually, the therapist will tell you what they specialize in, and they will give you their prerequisites, a la college and where they studied. For female therapists, I have a lot of experience with them, she will likely tell you what her experiences are with women and such, but if you prefer a male therapist, same deal. If you are a member of the LGBTQI+ community and are also disabled, it may be helpful to have a therapist who is also a part of the community, though it is not required. Black/African American therapists, according to some news things I came across, are harder to find than white ones, but don’t be shy about asking about a therapist’s experience with ethnic minorities, and do they come off as condescending or do they still click with you? If you’re of any ethnic minority, chances are you’ve struggled to find a therapist who meets the ethnic minority thing, but since there might not be one that meets your insuring requirements, be open and flexible about your choices.
Does the therapist have expperience with religious minorities? Ask any question you like about this, but for those in religious minorities groups, i.e. nonChristian groups, this is a highly important question. You may be experiencing some things related to religious stuff, so a therapist could help if they have experience with religious minorities.
Ask if the therapist can provide digital or Braille material if you’re totally blind and wish to participate in a group they facilitate? IF you want to participate in groups, odds are there will be papers to play with. So ask the therapist if they could email or help with transcribing the materials in to Braille, depending on your personal needs. Any therapist should be required to do so, but some will say some stuff about HIPAA and stuff and might not want to do this very much. It takes a bit of advocacy to do this, trust me I have a bit of experience with this.
When you first go into a therapy session for the first time with your new therapist, whether this is your first or tenth, be prepared for the good stuff. The therapist will introduce themselves, including name, college credentials if any, how many years experience they have, what they specialize in if applicable, and then they’ll start telling you the confidentiality credo that goes like, “If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or homicidal thoughts” and remind you that whatever you say to them is confidential except in the case of suicidal or homicidal thoughts. I actually had to say this during a simulated therapy session with a social work student in college, so yeah, I know waht this is all about. You will likely have to sign a release of records, treatment papers and a consent for treatment form is among these. You will likely be asked a barrage of questions if this is your first time with the therapist, but one Facebook user has suggested grabbing your prior records if this is your second, third, or even tenth therapist you’ve gone through. I’ve been through about five or seven, but in doctors, psychiatrists, I’ve been through at least six or seven. That’s between two mental health providers.
Also, you may need to ask the therapist about how many years experience they have with working with disabled patients, and do they have papers they can share with you about the results of their treatment methodologies regarding traumas or other types of therapy. You may want talk therapy to start, but if you have specific needs, something that you want the healthcare company to cover,, talk to your therapist. Community mental health care is good for some who can’t afford private practice, and having a casework person coordinate your treatment team is a plus especially if you feel overwhelmed, so be prepared to do the same as above with a regular therapist if you’re doing intakes for community mental health.
If you want, guys, I can do a Mental Health Clinics 101 if needed. Don’t be so surprised, but mental health is a tough road to navigate for some, and during Covid it has become exhaustive for a lot of reasons. Isolation can make people go insane, quite literally. The social distancing is something that kids aren’t taking well, especially if they have suicidal thoughts going on. I’m lucky I have a partner to do lockdown with, but it’s sad when your friends can’t just drop by for your birthday or Christmas or what have you. I hope this post helps a lot.