Psychotherapy How to choose a psychotherapist

Psychotherapy - How do I find it and what can I expect then?

Did you know that one in five people will get depression at least once in their life? For many of those affected, however, it is unclear how they can best find a suitable psychotherapy place. Fear of endless waiting times, the confusion when searching and lots of technical specializations that mean little to an outsider, don't make it any easier. Here you can find out how you can best get therapy and what to expect.

Step 1: Find the right psychotherapy method

The first big challenge is that you should know beforehand which type of psychotherapy you prefer. Which method you “should” choose depends on your type and also depends a lot on the difficulties you are dealing with. So the most important thing first is to understand the differences between the three methods. Briefly summarized:

  • The Behavior therapy is the most popular form of therapy and is characterized above all by newly learned behaviors and thought patterns that are supposed to help you deal better with your own problems. The focus is on everyday life. You learn practical, concrete solutions to better deal with the situations that are triggered or negatively influenced by your own disorder. The duration of the therapy is between 25-80 sessions, 1-2 times a week.
  • Psychoanalysis is the oldest form of therapy. It is based on the idea that conflicts from the past subconsciously create various protective mechanisms in us. Unresolved conflicts should lead to disruptions. The disturbance should be processed and overcome by becoming aware of and experiencing previous conflicts. The psychotherapist usually speaks very little. The duration of the therapy is between 160-300 sessions, 2-3 times a week.
  • The Therapy based on depth psychologyis a flexible form of therapy. Similar to psychoanalysis, it focuses more on the origin and cause of the disorder. The central conflict should be identified and understood and then solutions should be developed together on how to deal with these difficulties. The duration of therapy is between 25-100 sessions, 1-2 times a week.

If you think you are suffering from a depression or anxiety disorder, we recommend that you choose behavior therapy. But choose the one that speaks to you personally the most! (Psst: By the way, are you unsure whether you know the difference between psychologists, psychotherapists and the like?)

Step 2: The right psychotherapist

It is definitely easier not to find a therapist until you have decided on a procedure. Depending on whether you have private or statutory health insurance, there are different options for seeking psychotherapy. There are numerous databases for this on the Internet. One possibility that is unknown to many people is the search in outpatient clinics of training institutes or universities.

Do yourself a favor and make yourself a neat table. Think about something that is particularly important to you: For example, would you rather go to a man or a woman? Are there any other things you wish for? If you can't think of anything, no matter what, then you have a wider choice. Perhaps it will help you to decide who you would most like to call when you see the advantages and disadvantages listed in this way. Your table could look like this (or completely different!):

SurnameTel. & AddressWhen can I call?Distance from homeOnline evaluationIs there any information about waiting times?My gut feeling (5/5 stars)

Important: don't be in this step to picky. Do not try too hard to judge a possible “chemistry” between you on the basis of a website or a photo. Of course you should trust your gut feeling, but the initial talks are there to really get a taste - and they are much more informative.

3rd step: The establishment of contact

Now comes the response! Take your time for it. Schedule an hour in your calendar where most therapists are available and contact the top 5 from your list. Don't be afraid to put yourself on several waiting lists! In this way you increase your chance of getting an appointment faster and you can always cancel the other later. If you want, you can also have an initial interview with several psychotherapists to find out which of them suits you best.

By the way, don't let the waiting time get you down! It's not a good excuse to put off contacting you. (And some of them get to it quickly.) Do you need a support to endure the waiting time better? Moodpath accompanies you, helps you to better understand your stressful thoughts and feelings in your everyday life and summarizes them in a doctor's letter, which you can take with you to your first consultation. This makes it easier for you and your therapist to get started with the first interview and gives you the opportunity to constructively organize your waiting time.

4th step: The first interview

The first interview is there to get to know each other. The psychotherapist wants to get to know you and get an accurate picture of your current complaints and their development. As a rule, you can exchange ideas about what expectations you have of the therapy and what goals you want to achieve. Of course, the first session is fraught with excitement and tension. Nevertheless you can try to feel inside yourself whether it “fits” between you.

Organizational questions are also clarified: For example, how often meetings take place, how the therapist works and which documents you need for the "reimbursement procedure".

5th step: The trial sessions

As a person with statutory health insurance, you can “try out” up to five sessions for behavior therapy and depth psychological therapy, and up to eight sessions for psychoanalysis. (The number may vary for privately insured persons.) In the trial sessions, the psychotherapist classifies your complaints, tries to establish a relationship with you and, at the end of the trial phase (depending on the procedure), gives you a diagnosis with which the further treatment steps are planned. There may also be times when you have to fill out some questionnaires. As a patient, you have the opportunity during these first sessions to ask the psychotherapist about his methods, approaches and working methods.

Only at the end of this trial phase will you decide whether you can imagine working together. Do not be pressured if the psychotherapist expects a clear acceptance or rejection from you before the end of all probatory sessions. You should make this decision carefully, but you don't need to justify it.

Step 6: The application to the health insurance company

If all the information and forms for applying to the health insurance company are complete, the psychotherapist usually creates a “report to an expert”. Without mentioning your name, this contains biographical information as well as information on the origin and course of your complaints.

Protipp: Call and make sure that the health insurance company has received your application! The health insurance company then usually has five weeks to approve the application or - in a few exceptional cases - to reject it. If she has not responded to your application after five weeks, the psychotherapist can start psychotherapy, even without the consent of the health insurance company.

7th step: During psychotherapy

After the decision of the health insurance company, you will receive a letter with the number of approved therapy sessions. From this point on, you can start the therapy. The therapy often begins with the establishment of goals that one would like to achieve in the course of the process. For behavior therapy and depth psychological psychotherapy, appointments usually take place once a week and each last 50 minutes. In psychoanalysis, up to three sessions per week can be scheduled.

During psychotherapy, you deal more with problems and difficult topics that can trigger negative feelings. It often happens that symptoms even worsen at the beginning of therapy. That is normal. It is exhausting and sometimes frightening to face your own difficulties. Overall, however, psychotherapy should give you hope and courage for the future. You should gradually go into the sessions feeling good about yourself.

Step 8: Changes are allowed

A trusting relationship with the therapist is the basis for successful therapy. So if you notice that after the sessions you almost always feel more desperate and hopeless than before, you should discuss this with your psychotherapist.

If you feel that the psychotherapist does not take you seriously or understands you over the long term, you can consider changing therapists. Even if you have the feeling that the therapist is imposing strategies on you or not including you in the planning of the treatment, you should speak openly about this. If that didn't help, you can change your psychotherapist. In these cases, the new therapist will submit a new application to the health insurance company, in which your change will be justified.

You can also end psychotherapy at any time - even if not all approved therapy sessions have been "used up". Depending on the situation, it even makes sense to end the therapy when you have achieved your therapy goals.

9th step: The end of therapy

At the end of therapy, you usually work on how you can react in difficult situations in the future and prevent relapse. Often times the psychotherapist has become a trusted person. Therefore, the idea of ​​finally saying goodbye to each other is difficult for many people. It is important that these farewell feelings are also brought up.

If, in consultation with your therapist, you determine that you need further sessions, an "extension request" can be made.

  • Behavioral therapy: extend up to 80 hours
  • Psychotherapy based on depth psychology: extend up to 100 hours
  • Psychoanalysis: extend up to 300 hours

There is a persistent rumor that a period of two years must be observed before another psychotherapy can be started. That's not true!

In general, of course, psychotherapy is not intended to be a constant accompaniment in your life. It should be temporary and give you the tools you need to cope with your life on your own.