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Finding the Right Therapist: Why It’s Impossible For My Husband and Possible for You

Ok so a little background here. My husband is autistic, only he’s not. See the thing is, they think they have found a new form of autism in my husband. He is too social and trusting to be autistic (because he has a wife and two best friends), but in every other way he meets the criteria. Add in a dash of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and a few other “issues”, not all of which have been diagnosed, and you have psychological mess.

So we’ve tried therapy.

The problem with your average therapist is that they are a councilor and not a psychologist. The education is different. So while they are great to talk to, they aren’t really equipped to diagnose someone like my husband. Trust me, he’s been to a quite a few. His favorite spent more time talking than actually listening. And by favorite I mean not so much favorite, more despised.

Our local facility that takes our insurance has you start with the therapist before you can get to a psychiatrist. So there is little to no chance of a diagnosis if you can’t sit through the therapy.

So in an effort to save our marriage, one night, I asked him what it would take to get him professional help. His answer: A PhD that wanted to get published. Great. Did I mention we are on the state’s insurance? Yep. No easy task. Now I couldn’t guarantee the wanting to get published part, but I found him the psychologist that took our insurance. I even made him the appointment. Then we both discovered the one big catch. My husband had seen this gentleman prior. He was in fact the gentleman my husband was sent to in the process of getting disability. My husband spent the next 3 months ranting about how much he hated this gentleman. Needless to say, that appointment got canceled promptly. The best part? I was planning to ask him for a referral to someone else if he didn’t take our insurance. I can’t ask him for that referral now.

So we are back to square one. So the question is, where do we go from here? No, really…

Now let’s take a step back. Let’s look at you finding one.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say you are probably not like my husband and are textbook something. I don’t care how complex that something is (trust me I know BPD is complex) but you are textbook something. Ok I admit, you have your quirks, I have mine. No mental illness is strictly by the book. But chances are you aren’t something brand new they haven’t seen before.

What am I getting at now that my foot is in my mouth? Well basically, this: You don’t have to be as picky as my husband. Oh trust me, I know you are still going to be picky. I mean your relationship with your therapist is going to be one of the most meaningful relationships in your life. But still, you aren’t limited to a PhD who wants to be published. Add in a personality match and my husband is screwed in try to find one. Admit it, I’m right. You have more options.

But how do you find the right one?

The answer is simple. You pick up the book of providers for your insurance, you find one close to you, you set up an appointment and you go. Talk to them for at least an hour. Maybe several hours spread between a few sessions. You’ll know when you are ready to decide. Decide what? Well if they are the one. It’s like true love. You don’t settle on your spouse, you don’t settle on your therapist either.

I remember the one for me. Her name was Amy. She had a therapy dog name Ollie. Now, Ollie wasn’t the whole package, but he sealed the deal. Amy got me. Right off the bat she got me. I was a teenager at the time. A confused, depressed, lonely, angry teenager. So truly getting me was no easy task. But she did. And she spoke to me in a way that made me really listen. She knew what to say, she knew how to say it. She was magic. Our therapist, client relationship was magic. It was like true love at first sight.

I don’t know what happened to Amy. Something medical that lead to her having to quit her job. I never fully recovered from that blow. To be honest I wouldn’t be surprised to learn she had cancer and passed away. I know it was something serious like that. But whatever it was, she is no longer in practice and I miss her deeply.

And now? Well next there was Joe. Joe was me desperate needing something. I didn’t like Joe but he was the best I could do at the time. Amy at least thought I was bipolar. Joe thought I was just depressed. Next came Julie. Julie was almost as magic as Amy. She was the one who figured I has BPD. Life changer, that Julie. With Julie I reached a point in my life when I no longer needed therapy so I took a break. When I came back to it Julie had been promoted and was no longer seeing patience. I understood this and started seeing Cindy. Cindy had been the DBT leader so I knew her, liked her and knew she understood BPD. I’m at a point in my life where I need the BPD knowledge more than I need the magic connection. I’m not saying Cindy isn’t magic. I like her very much and it’s a great fit. I’m just saying she’s no Amy. Maybe if she had an Ollie dog. Maybe.

I think it’s time for my point. Pick a random therapist. Try them on like a pair of jeans. If they don’t fit, move on to the next pair. Keep trying on therapists until you find the one that fits you the best. This could take awhile. Believe me, I understand. It took me years and many misdiagnosis to get to the team of help I have now. But don’t get discouraged, keep trying. The right therapist is out there. And believe me, they are worth waiting and digging for.

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