Finding the Right Kind of Therapist

There comes a time when you look around yourself and realize that you’ve hit rock bottom or maybe you’re plummeting that way. When you finally recognize that you’ve gone as far down as you can and you’re as emotionally drained and exhausted as possible, you might think you have no options for getting better. 

I’ll be real, I’ve been there. I felt hopeless trying a myriad of options that people swear have worked for them, but failed for me, making me feel even worse. Honestly, I didn’t think anything was going to make me better. I sat through Bible studies, thinking God might work his magic; I went through CAPS and got nothing out of it; I found my own therapist who didn’t vibe with me; I thought I tried everything. 

What I thought was supposed to be a resolvable problem turned into months of a living nightmare, until I finally realized that I needed something different than other people. It sounds obvious, but even when you google “how to stop being sad,” your results are everything from “silence your phone” to “electroshock therapy.” The options for solutions are endless, which makes navigating your own path to healing even harder. 

Atlanta is a big city, with a vast array of opportunities, but to begin getting help you have to first decide: what’s wrong? Have you felt this way for a long time, or is this a new thing? Are you overwhelmed by the amount of work you need to do? Do you have a condition that’s already been diagnosed? Are you struggling with acute anxiety related to an exam? Whatever it is, answering those questions are imperative in deciding what to do next. 

There are many different kinds of therapy; the term in itself is broad. There are two, however, primary means of therapy: psychodynamic and cognitive behavioral therapy. Psychodynamic therapy is what you might think of when you think of Freud: free talking, free association, and analysis of underlying issues that may trace all the way back to your childhood. Because it can take a while to unlock your subconscious, psychodynamic therapy tends to be a long-lasting endeavor. CAPS is more this side. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy, on the other hand, is based on the idea that there are unhealthy behaviors in the present, and how these behaviors contribute to a larger life problem. When we learn our unhealthy patterns, we then learn to understand how we can change them. The idea that you learn recognition and then resolution leads to this method lasting a shorter amount of time than psychodynamic therapy. 

While there are many more types of therapy, these are the most researched and consequently the most accessible in our area. 

Getting help, however, by the literal definition, doesn’t end there. Sometimes those things don’t work (I’ve done both and while they helped, don’t feel like a failure when they don’t fix all your problems) and you aren’t a failure if that’s the case for you. Sometimes, it takes more than talking to someone; you might need an extra push. 

If you’ve tried psychodynamic therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy, it might be time to consider psychiatry. Psychiatry, unlike therapy, typically involves a medical analysis of your issues and the prescription of medication. While psychiatry should be considered, it’s not something I would recommend as the first step. 

Psychiatry, and antipsychotic drugs, are the option you should utilize alongside therapy. While therapy may not adjust your chemical imbalance, a psychiatrist isn’t going to hear your problems (at least in my experience). The two work hand-in-hand, and as someone who didn’t feel resolution from one solution, the combination of the two addresses the physiological and the psychological pieces of what’s happening. 

Whatever you need, whatever you try that works for you, getting help is normal. There is no need to feel shame about healing. Any method is valid so long as it helps you.