Therapy plays a crucial role in the treatment of a number of mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, substance abuse, and eating disorders, among others.

Often for drug addicts and alcoholics, substance use disorder is intertwined with mental health conditions. It’s imperative that you treat both and a therapist can help.

Although not every person suffering from a mental health condition will necessarily benefit from therapy, therapy is highly effective at reducing the symptoms of a wide variety of mental health conditions.

Here are some tips for finding the right therapist and the right treatment method for you.

Identify your own need

Only you can accurately assess the impact your mental health is having on your own life.

Parents, friends, partners, and medical practitioners can help support you as you journey towards mental wellness, but they cannot know what you need.

So how do you know if you need help? One of the first questions to ask yourself is, “Is my mental health affecting how I live my life?”

Do you avoid phone calls, social gatherings, and other interactions? Do you find yourself so stressed that it is difficult to enjoy daily activities, or that you avoid those activities altogether?

Are you perpetually tired, melancholy, frustrated, or apathetic?

Perhaps the most telling sign that you might need therapy is if you catch yourself thinking about therapy.

If you’ve thought about seeking help, it’s a good indication that you probably do, in fact, need help.

Shop around

Many people feel uncomfortable “shopping” for therapists, but it’s the only way to make sure tyou’ll get the most out of your treatment.

In fact, it doesn’t matter if you’re working with a provisional phycologist or with a fully-licensed practitioner with five PhDs to their name–what matters the most is the relationship that you establish with your therapist.

So, don’t be afraid to meet with a number of therapists until you find one whose personality clicks well with yours.

Some therapists charge for these initial meetings, and some don’t.

If you don’t feel comfortable going in for a trial appointment, try asking the therapist some questions on the phone to see if they are a good fit for you.

Do the research

Take some time to learn about the different types of therapy.

There are a number of different counseling approaches out there, and each therapist has their own toolkit.

For example, cognitive behavioral therapy is highly effective at changing patients’ thought patterns, which is why it’s so widely used to treat anxiety

Patients can learn to identify critical, inward thoughts and learn behaviors to stop and redirect those negative thought patterns.

Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), on the other hand, is becoming increasingly recognized as an effective treatment for anxiety, depression, and PTSD resulting from trauma.

Often, therapists and their patients combine a number of approaches in order to tailor treatment plans according to the patients’ needs.

Be realistic about what you can spend

The cost of therapy can vary wildly: some private practitioners may charge upwards of $150 per hour, while subsidized practices or practices that use a sliding scale might charge as little as $30 per hour.

Therapy isn’t a short-term fix.

You should expect to stay in therapy for at least a few months. That is why it’s so important to find a therapist whom you can reasonably afford.

Remember: private practices are not inherently better than publicly-funded practices.

It is possible to find an affordable therapist you enjoy working with.