Signs you may need to find a new mental health provider

November 30, 2021 in Wellness  •  By Miles Varn, MD
mental health provider

More than 23 million adults in the U.S. received care from a mental health provider in 2021. If you’re currently seeing a mental health specialist, it’s wise to occasionally take stock and check to see if you’re benefitting from your treatment and your mental health provider is still a good fit. Over time, your needs may change or you may find that your provider’s approach doesn’t align with your goals or values.

These five signs may signal that it’s time to find a different mental health provider.

  1. Your treatment isn’t progressing. Mental health care isn’t going to instantly solve the issues you’re facing. Progress takes time and effort on your part and your provider’s. At the start of your treatment, you and your mental health provider should outline measurable short-term and long-term goals. If you feel like you are not making progress, tell your provider and ask if there’s a different approach that could help you move towards your goals. If your provider insists on sticking to the original approach and you continue to feel like you’re not making progress, consider changing providers.
  2. Your provider doesn’t seem committed to your care. Is your provider frequently late for your appointments or cancels appointments often? Your provider should respect your time and commitment to treatment and should be fully focused during your sessions. Answering calls or texts and glancing at their phone or computer during your appointments is a red flag. Another sign that your mental health provider may not be adequately focused on your care is frequently needing to be reminded what you talked about in your last session. As a first step, raise the issue with your provider and see if the behavior stops.
  3. Your provider isn’t experienced caring for patients with your issue. You may have originally come to your provider to find ways to manage symptoms of anxiety, but as your treatment continued, you discovered that past trauma was the root cause of your symptoms and you’re living with PTSD. If your provider doesn’t have experience and the training needed to treat patients like you, look for one who specializes in treating the condition you face. Your current provider may be able to refer you to a colleague with the expertise you need.
  4. Your provider’s values and beliefs are at odds with yours. You don’t have to have the exact same values and beliefs as your provider to have a positive therapeutic relationship, but if your provider does not respect your values or pushes his or her values on you, you should look for a new provider. You should not feel judged by your provider based on your gender identity, race, ethnicity, faith, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status.
  5. Your provider is too impersonal or too familiar. Professional detachment allows your provider to give you impartial, non-judgmental feedback and advice. But some providers can be too detached and clinical in their approach. There should be a sense of empathy in your relationship and you should feel comfortable talking about anything with your provider. The other end of the spectrum is a provider who’s too familiar and your sessions end up being more like chats than therapy.

 What to look for in a mental health provider

If you decide it’s time to find a new provider, make sure they’re licensed to practice mental health care, use an evidence-based approach to treatment, and have experience treating people with your condition. A health advisor can help you find a new provider and get an appointment in a timely manner.

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