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How to Find a Therapist

Whether an adult or child needs therapy, finding the right therapist takes research, patience, and intuition.
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Pediatricians and professional counselors should not be treating a child for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), he tells WebMD. "More than 75% of children with ADHD are treated by a pediatrician or primary care doctor. But studies show that 40% to 60% of those children have another psychiatric diagnosis. How can a pediatrician [or counselor] diagnose that?"

"Professional honesty is very important -- referring patients to other professionals when you're not trained to handle the problem," says Rothe. "Many psychologists feel very threatened by psychiatrists, that they will lose the patient if they make a referral. But they're doing a disservice by not getting patients get the help they need."

Psychiatrists understand both the body and the brain, and that's a critical difference, he explains. "Depression may begin with a situational problem in your life, but that event causes chemical changes in your brain. Once those chemical changes are established, you have a chemical imbalance. If you treat depression as something abstract, you won't get to the fact that it's a chemical imbalance that needs be treated."

He retells one landmark court case: A man with what's known as "agitated depression" wore out three pairs shoes from pacing for more than six months in a mental health facility. Talk therapy was not helping, so he signed himself out, went to a psychiatrist, got medications, and got completely better in six weeks.

"He sued the hospital, said he hadn't received appropriate treatment, and he won," says Rothe.

The lesson for therapists: You are making a patient suffer unnecessarily if you don't treat the depression effectively -- or if you don't help them find a therapist who can.

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