Just Talkin’ Tuesday 03.23.10: How did you find your therapist?

Original photo: "Everyday Use Items: a couch" by @foka_kytutr @ flickr.com


You have broken through the fear to make the call for help.

But now what?

Unless you have a therapist tucked away with the burp cloths or shoved in a random diaper bag pocket, chances are you’ll be scrambling to find one after diagnosis with Postpartum Mood Disorder.

There are a lot of questions to be considered when searching for a therapist. Some are financial, some regarding training, and others regarding how experienced the therapist is with your specific diagnosis.

Just as you wouldn’t see an Oncologist for a Pulmonary Embolism, you wouldn’t visit a Substance abuse therapist for a Postpartum Mood Disorder.

But when you are in the throes of Postpartum Mood Disorder, you don’t necessarily have the wherewithal to be going down a checklist of requirements for a Therapist. (That is, unless you get lucky like me and develop Postpartum OCD. Then lists and keeping certain things in a very particular order becomes very very important to you.)

So how can you tell your therapist is going to be a good match or is trained in dealing with Postpartum Mood Disorders?

The first thing you need to know is what degrees to look for when ensuring the therapist you are considering is professionally and properly trained. A therapist will primarily hold a Masters level degree and be either a Licensed Social Worker or Counselor/Therapist depending on your state’s licensing office. A solid counselor should not hesitate to provide evidence of his/her training and current license status if requested. You may also see a Psychologist, who will hold either a Ph.D (research) or a Psy.D (Professional) for therapy.

The second thing to consider is specialized training in Postpartum Mood Disorders. If the therapist is truly focused/familiar with Postpartum Mood Disorder patients, he or she will be aware of Postpartum Support International, Karen Kleiman’s Clinician Training at the Postpartum Stress Center, or Pec Indman’s two day training via Postpartum Support International. If your therapist claims to be intimately involved with treating Postpartum Mood Disorder clients yet has no earthly idea who these people or organizations are, be wary. Ask what specialized training they have completed in the area of Postpartum Mood Disorders (if any) and how long they’ve been treating patients with similar diagnoses to yours.

Third, while your therapist is not meant to be your best friend, you should feel somewhat at ease during the appointment. If you feel uncomfortable or on edge during therapy, you’ll be less likely to disclose as much and therefore hinder your own journey toward wellness. It’s worth the search to find a therapist with philosophies similar to yours.

Do not be afraid to ask what their policy is on admitting to Intrusive thoughts. Many many women worry that if they admit they have thoughts of doing horrible things to their children, the children will be taken away from them. I faced this very same issue and asked my therapist this question before I admitted some pretty dark thoughts to her. Her response was that yes, she was required to report situations which indicated imminent harm to oneself or others but that she understood intrusive thoughts and their involvement in my particular diagnosis. This particular concern goes back to finding out what experience the therapist you are considering has with Postpartum Mood Disorders.

Dr. John Grohol over at PsychCentral has some good advice on how to tell a good therapist from a bad one. I would highly recommend you read it and keep these tips in mind.

Another great link to keep tucked away is “Tips for talking with your doctor” by Karen Kleiman over at the Postpartum Stress Center. She suggests starting with the doctor you feel most at ease with even if it’s your primary care physician. He or she can always refer you to specialists once a consensus is made that further help is indeed needed.

I now hand this post over to you, the reader.

What did you do to find your Postpartum Therapist? Any tips? Suggestions? What to look for? What to avoid?

Let’s get to just talking here!

(Tomorrow we’ll be discussing different types of therapy available for the Postpartum Woman. Stay tuned!)


4 thoughts on “Just Talkin’ Tuesday 03.23.10: How did you find your therapist?

  1. Pingback: Therapy Choices for the Postpartum Woman «

  2. Lauren,

    For my bout with PPD
    I found my therapist through a very close friend. She knows me well and said this is who you need now. Later on when it got really clinically bad – She also found my psychiatrist immediately, through references from a doctor at Emory. I needed to see a psychiatrist so quickly and the Women’s Health Center at Emory was not available until the following Tuesday. NO WAY. Ironically my wonderful doctor is there now. Things sometimes work out well.

  3. Well for myself, I live in a small city in Canada and we have a limited amount of resources. My OB was the one who reccommended my psychiatrist since he spent a great deal of time working in women’s health. He had sent a lot of his PPD patients to him and heard nothing but compliments on his care, so that was reasurring. The first time I met him was in the ER and I was so frightened. A nurse who triaged me told me that he was the best and that he cares a lot about his patients…which also made me feel confident in my OB’s choice.
    When he came into the room he told me that WE were going to get through this. He explained EVERYTHING in plain English and even asked me if I felt comfortable with what he had planned for me. He then told me that if I ever felt that I didn’t like something he was doing, that I had the right to say no. Having PPD I felt so powerless, but when he made me aware that I did have power over my treatment and that I had a say in everything really meant the world. I think that it is so important that your doctor views your treatment as a team effort and includes you in EVERY SINGLE decision in your care because you SHOULD have a say in your treatment.
    Also I think that having a doctor that explain things in great length so that You understand is so valuable.
    This is a great topic Lauren!!

    • I am SO glad you brought up the necessity of teamwork when it comes to recovery. (See what I get for blogging at midnight?)

      It is absolutely important for your doctor/therapist to be on your TEAM and involve you rather than being a dictator. We realize there are emergency situations that can occur with certain conditions/experiences that require immediate action and don’t really allow time for a weighted/educated decision but being pro-active and finding an awesome doctor is key in positive outcomes even in those situations.

      It sounds like you had a great psychiatrist to work with. The psychiatrist I saw was very cold and didn’t seem to understand PMD’s at all. I live in a rather small town in the state of Georgia so it’s hard to find decent resources here as well. Sometimes you do have to work with what’s available but knowing that you have the power to say no to any aspect of your treatment is so very important.

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