Finding a Therapist When You Have a Chronic Illness (+ What Makes Good Therapist)

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Most people know what qualities to look for when choosing a physician. However, many with chronic illnesses are at a loss when it comes to selecting a therapist. Knowing the signs and qualities of a good therapist can help you choose an expert who can provide the care you need.  

The Connection Between Chronic Illness and Mental health

A decay of both physical and mental wellness is frequently seen in those with chronic illness. There are many reasons why chronic illness may result in this mutual decline. 

Emotional stress caused by a new diagnosis or an unexpected worsening of the condition can trigger a significant amount of stress, anxiety, or depressive symptoms. If left unattended, these problems can actually contribute to an increase in the frequency, severity, and new development of physical symptoms. A decline in physical health such as this can impede factors associated with mood regulation and neurological function, such as hormone and neurotransmitter activity. This results in degradation of mental wellness which further feeds into the continuation and worsening of physical symptoms.

Learn more about the connection between chronic illness and mental health here.

Breaking the cycle of declining physical and mental wellness requires that all elements of the illness be treated. Unfortunately, psychological issues frequently go overlooked and unattended. Patients can help alleviate this problem by enlisting the aid of a qualified therapist. Doing so can significantly improve mental wellness and may even improve physical symptoms. 

Qualities of a Good Therapist

Finding a good therapist is an important but oftentimes difficult part of improving mental wellness. One of the best ways of identifying a skilled therapist is by looking for certain signs and qualities such as those discussed below.

Feedback Has Practical and Emotional Value

Most therapists are skilled at improving their patient’s mood or emotional state through positive affirmation and nonverbal signals. This is an essential component of a therapist’s job as it puts their client at ease and creates a safe space for sharing and growth. However, these are not the only skills required of a therapist. To get the most out of your therapy sessions be sure that your therapist provides practical feedback such as guidance regarding specific aspects of your life deserving of reflection, methods for improving mental wellness outside of your sessions, and different ways to think about your situation. 

Understands and Supports Your Goals

Patients often begin therapy without a clear idea of what they need. Additionally, the goal of the patient may change as they progress through therapy. Throughout the entire therapy process it is the therapist’s job to help the client identify or formulates their goals and subsequently achieve them. The best therapists take the time to discuss and discover what their patients are looking to get out of their sessions. 

Familiarity with Symptoms of Dysfunction

Mental dysfunction manifests itself in many different ways. A well-trained therapist should have the knowledge needed to identify potential causes of symptoms reported by the patient or viewed during sessions and create a diagnosis based off that data. They should also be able to adapt to changing symptoms and provide more specific care as treatment progresses.

Continued Training and Research

The field of psychotherapy is regularly advancing. As such, it is important that your therapist strive to use the most effective and science-based approaches in their practice. Signs that your therapist is staying up to date are that they regularly attend conferences, read current academic literature, and engage in training programs. The best way to confirm that your therapist is staying up to date is by simply asking them. 

Established Boundaries

Therapists are professionals that are being paid to provide a service that facilitates greater mental wellness. Even most therapists are friendly and amicable it is important to always keep in mind that they are not a friend. A good therapist will never take an action that attempts to bridge the gap between professionalism and friendship. Keep in mind that this goes both ways. You should not attempt to befriend your therapist as that undercuts the entire practice. The primary goal of every session should be to maintain intentional and pragmatic conversation that progresses you towards your mental health goals. If you feel like your therapist is your friend, you likely need to find a new practitioner. 

Following Up

Seeing progress is one of the most rewarding parts of engaging in any sort of treatment. To help quantify and illustrate a patient’s progress a good therapist will typically conduct an assessment early on in treatment. Not only does this help inform what method of treatment is appropriate, it also establishes a starting point. Quality therapists will later use this reference to follow up with and assess the progress that has been made. Comparing these reference points provides beneficial information regarding the successfulness or ineffectiveness of treatment while also showing the patient how far they have come. 

Get the Therapeutic and Psychological Support You Need

Chronic disease and mental illness are closely related to and influence one another. Sadly, the psychological component of chronic illness is often overlooked. To effectively treat chronic illness, every aspect of the condition, including psychological disruptions, must be resolved. Psychotherapy is perhaps one of the most effective methods of supporting the restoration and improvement of mental wellness associated with chronic illness. Being familiar with the attributes and indicators of a quality therapist, like those discussed above, can help you find a therapist that is able to provide the best care possible.  

At Holtorf Medical Group, we understand the powerful impact of psychology on overall wellness and bodily function, and have partnered with a licensed psychotherapist to provide our patients with support for their mental health as well as their physical health. As always, Holtorf Medical Group provides cutting-edge testing and innovative treatments for to find the answers to your chronic symptoms and develops a treatment plan that is personalized to your specific condition. If you have been diagnosed with a chronic illness, but aren’t receiving the help you need, call us at 877-508-1177!

About Holtorf Medical Group

The Holtorf Medical Group specializes in optimizing quality of life and being medical detectives to uncover the underlying cause of symptoms, rather than just prescribing medications to cover-up the symptoms. We are experts in natural, prescription bioidentical hormone replacement and optimization, complex endocrine dysfunction, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and Lyme disease.

We’ve dedicated our practice to providing you the best in evidenced-based, integrative medicine that’s not only safe and effective, but provides measurable results.