Getting help when there’s something wrong

So something’s not right, and you want to find help. Perhaps a relationship is unraveling and you’re not quite sure what to do. Perhaps something is taking too much of your energy and attention and you can’t seem to stop its interference with your life. Perhaps your feelings or thoughts keep you paralyzed from accomplishing even the simplest tasks.

If you decide to seek help, how do you find the right person, the right therapist to meet your needs? Some things to consider before you start: Are you more comfortable with a male or a female therapist? What about someone who understands your cultural values and background? Do you want someone to just listen or to give you feedback and ideas to consider? Are you seeking someone who might work with psychiatrists offering medication supports?

In general, finding the right fit for you is a priority among therapists. Questions are welcomed. Asking for further explanation if you don’t understand is encouraged. Feelings are not hurt if you meet with a therapist and decide they are not a good fit for you.

On your first visit you can expect to receive a disclosure statement outlining your therapist’s education, experience, and style or type of therapy. Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t understand what certain terms mean. Ask. You should expect your therapist to explain what treatment interventions she or he utilizes.

How to find a name, a contact — potentially a daunting task since the phone book can be filled with numerous listings. You may be comfortable asking a family member or a friend for a referral. You might choose not to involve people you know, however. Talking to your doctor or clergy might prove to be a good resource as they might both have the advantage of knowing you and knowing resources in your area. If you have insurance or an employee assistance program (EAP), you may find a listing of specific therapists who are approved for payment for a set number of sessions per your particular program.

Call the therapists you have selected and leave a message on their confidential voicemail. When they call you back, you will have an opportunity to talk about your situation and get a feel for whether each is a good fit for you. If not offered, ask what the charge is for an initial session.

Mercer Island Youth and Family Services maintains contact with numerous therapists and specialists throughout the area, including Mercer Island. We welcome your call exploring the right services for you or your family’s needs.

Sometimes the challenge of sorting through how to get help may be the largest barrier to actually getting help. Please know there are many caring, ethical therapists in our larger community who will do everything they can to make certain that barrier is removed.

For more information on choosing a therapist go to and click on “Individual & Family Counseling.”

Steve Pults, LMHC, is an individual, couple and family therapist at Mercer Island Youth & Family Services.

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