A beginner’s guide to therapy

Learn how to determine if you need therapy, find pro-bono services, choose the right therapist, understand the differences between psychologists and therapists, and access mental health helplines.

A beginner’s guide to therapy

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Reaching out to a therapist and asking for help can be an overwhelming task, especially in a society like ours where mental health is often cautiously side-stepped. First of all, congratulations on being able to admit that you need help. Here is a guide to therapy.

Do you need therapy? How to find out?

There are no specific criteria that qualify you as someone who needs therapy. You can opt for it just because you feel like it. However, some indications that might help you understand if you or a loved one might benefit from therapy are:

  • You have faced grief, trauma, or a significant change.
  • Constant state of restlessness or anxiety.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • You have started avoiding social interactions.
  • You feel like you need an expert or outsider’s opinion on your situation.

Pro-bono Therapy

Financial limitations often play a significant role as guide in an individual’s decision to rule out therapy as an option to cope with mental stress, especially for students with no stable income. Pro-bono therapy offers a solution to this problem by providing services free of charge. Many therapists and psychology students offer these services.


Asking the Right Questions

When looking for a therapist, it is important to ask the right questions to make an informed decision. Always ensure your therapist has the proper qualifications to help you. At the very least, they should possess a graduate-level degree and have at least 1,000 hours of hands-on experience. Additionally, make sure they are properly licensed.

Psychologists and Therapists – What is the difference?

The term “therapist” is a general umbrella term for people engaged in psychotherapy. However, psychologists often exhibit greater proficiency as they undergo more years of education compared to therapists. When looking for psychologists, it’s essential to analyze your needs to determine if you need a clinical psychologist or a counseling psychologist.

Counseling psychologists help patients understand and work through their thoughts and emotions by providing emotional support and ways to deal with stress and mental pressures. Clinical psychologists work towards generating diagnoses and categorizing an individual’s mental ailments. They usually work with patients having severe mental illnesses or disorders like schizophrenia, psychosis, etc.

Mental Health Helplines

The most important step towards improving your mental health is accepting that you need help and asking for it. Here are some free helpline resources:

  • National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) Helpline: Provides tele-counseling services and support for mental health issues. Website: nimhans.ac.in
  • Kiran Mental Health Helpline: A 24/7 toll-free helpline to provide support for anxiety, stress, depression, suicidal thoughts, and other mental health concerns. Phone: 1800-599-0019
  • iCALL: A free and confidential telephone and email counseling service provided by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai. Website: icallhelpline.org

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