Argosy University Blog

How to Find the Right Mental Health Practitioner


While many Americans are familiar with the process of finding a medical doctor that suits their needs, not everyone is comfortable and confident in doing the same when it comes to their mental health practitioner.

"Selecting a mental health practitioner doesn't have to be a headache," says Camille McDaniel, adjunct professor of undergraduate and graduate studies at Argosy University, Atlanta and founder/therapist at Healing Psychotherapy Practices of Georgia, LLC. "If you feel comfortable asking, family members and friends can be a great place to start looking for a practitioner. The Internet provides a wealth of resources when it comes to mental health and can be a great place to look into finding a provider to meet your needs. If you're more comfortable speaking with a third party, your doctor and your insurance company can provide you with referrals in this area."

Much as you would for selecting your family physician, look for a mental health provider with the appropriate skill set and bedside manner. "In addition to finding someone with the appropriate training, experience and competence to treat your particular issues, look for someone with the ability to establish rapport, develop trust, good listening skills and a genuine interest in your well being," says Dr. Amos Martinez, adjunct professor at Argosy University, Denver and Licensed Clinical Social Worker. "The personal characteristics of a therapist are good predictors of a positive therapeutic outcome."

Both Martinez and McDaniel recommend interviewing your prospective provider before seeking treatment. "It is important to understand the methods or approaches used by the therapist, their fees, and whether you can relate to them in a face-to-face session," says Martinez. "Several mental health providers do not charge for initial consultations and are required, in some states, to provide you with a disclosure statement containing information about their academic background, licenses or certifications, methods of treatment, exceptions to confidential communications, and a statement about your rights as a client."

When interviewing a potential provider, describe the challenges you are facing and ask about how they, as a practitioner, approach those kinds of issues. Find out basics such as the length of a session, fees and fee policies and discuss your insurance. "Just as with your medical doctor, as a consumer, you have the right to know approximately how long therapy may last and whether the method or methods used by the therapist are generally accepted or experimental methods," says Martinez.

What can you expect on your first visit? Expect on your first visit to fill out forms and answer quite a few questions. A detailed history will be taken, which will help the practitioner determine how to best support you. The history will include your current concerns/challenges, medical history, mental health history, risks for harm, alcohol and/or drug use, abuse history (verbal, physical, sexual, emotional), legal issues, work issues, school issues, family history and support systems in place.

"Mental health therapy requires work on both sides of the treatment session," says Martinez. "When you feel comfortable discussing any issue with your therapist and the therapist regularly reports any progress in therapy to you, those are indicators of a good fit."

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Tap the Hidden Job Market


The process of finding employment has quietly undergone an evolution. More and more job seekers are discovering that many positions do not post to the public. In fact, the online career guidance resource Quintessential Careers reports that only 15 to 20 percent of available jobs post to newspapers, online job boards, or employment agencies.

“Not advertised?” ask many exasperated, out-of-work job candidates who regularly scour newspapers and websites in the hopes of finding a job. If this traditional search yields just a fraction of available employment opportunities, where are the bulk of open positions hiding? Welcome to the new hidden job market.

The hidden job market is real and, according to LinkedIn, reportedly more effective than the old conventional way. “At least half of all new hires find employment through networking,” says Jason Rinsky, National Director of Career Services at the Brown Mackie College system of schools. Yes, good old-fashioned word-of-mouth can help you find the back door to employment options.

Why is the hidden job market so huge?
“Recruiters want to minimize the amount they spend on advertising,” says Dr. Cynthia Scarlett, Chair of the Graduate Business and Organizational Leadership programs at Argosy University, Denver. “If they can get a recommendation, it puts them one step ahead in the vetting process.” Hiring managers, too, seem more likely to hire a person who has been recommended by a co-worker or trusted associate. A 2012 New York Federal Reserve Bank study bears this out, citing that referred candidates were twice as likely to land interviews compared to those who were not referred, and 40 percent more likely to be hired.

“Hiring managers will often consider people inside the company for a new position, or people they know. Often, the next step is to seek recommendations from trusted sources. A referred candidate saves time over total stranger,” continues Dr. Scarlett. “Networking is a vital step when looking for a job.”

Reinvigorate your networking efforts
Networking is not a new idea. It is simply building relationships with people. Attending networking events may seem daunting to some; however, Rinsky points out, “Each experience tends to increase confidence in the participant.” A little preparation goes a long way toward building a professional network. Dr. Scarlett advises everyone to practice the elevator pitch, and think about ways to open conversations. “Brainstorm questions about what to ask those in your industry. And, of course, have your resume prepared and ready to go,” she says.

Manage your networking expectations
Few people are likely to attend a single networking event and come away with a job. “Don’t go to a big professional meeting and hand out hundreds of business cards. Try to come away from each event with two relevant contacts,” says Scarlett. ”Focus on quality, not quantity. This won’t get you a job next week, but it will provide a manageable way to follow up with your new contacts.”

Follow up with new contacts
Remember, this is your job search, your professional life. Take the initiative to follow up with new contacts to support your connection. “You could ask if they are interested in an email from you about the topic you’ve been discussing,” Dr. Scarlett says, “or suggest that you meet for coffee and continue the conversation next week.” One step at a time, you are building a relationship.

Network by keyboard with purpose
Many people are tapping LinkedIn, the popular business social network, to connect with professional groups and find work. “This is a tool that should be used in a professional way, says Rinsky. “It is not a facebook equivalent; however it is a smart way to connect with people in your industry.”

Don’t overlook serendipity
You never know when the person next to you at the grocery store, or sitting behind you in a restaurant, is a hiring manager with a position to fill. ‘Networking can happen anyplace, in a bank or at volunteer events,” Dr. Scarlett says. “It does happen that way; every now and again, someone lands a job by way of a chance encounter.” It pays to be prepared in how you might present yourself, and the questions you might ask of people you meet in your everyday life.

Networking is the key to the hidden job market. “When you’re looking for a job, one person has only so much capacity, says Rinsky. “With each person who helps, you’ve got multiple eyes and ears working on your behalf. The more people involved, the greater your chances will be to find that dream job.”

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  • 2018

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