Choosing a therapist takes more than just simple appointment scheduling. It is a big decision as working with the right therapist can be an important part of reclaiming your life and improving your well-being. Working with the wrong therapist or with someone who doesn’t meet your needs can be discouraging and sometimes can do more harm than good. However, when you know what to look for and understand what would best suit your specific concerns, choosing the right therapist can be a positive and productive first step in your journey to better mental health.

But before one embarks on the journey of finding the right therapist, one must know what a therapist really is. The term ‘therapist’ is a bit of a catch-all. A therapist is a generic term used for any professional who is trained to provide treatment to people to improve some aspect of their mental health. A psychotherapist, more specifically, is a mental health professional who can fall into categories such as Licensed professionals like psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, etc. A therapist loosely refers to anyone who uses talk therapy in an attempt to treat people for their emotional problems.

Once this is established, one might wonder which type of psychotherapist would be apt for them. Should you go for the best clinical psychologist in Mumbai or should you go to a counselor or counseling psychologist to get help with your issues? Well, the answer to this question lies in the nuances of psychotherapy. Technically, both clinical and counseling psychologist work with more or less the same demographic with the similar aim of treating the mental and emotional concerns of their patients. However, the thing that separates the two is their educational expertise, training background, and approach to therapy. It is important to note that not all psychologists are experienced therapists. Many also specialize in areas like research or teaching and may have little experience in treating people.

To become a clinical psychologist, one must first complete their master’s in clinical psychology and then select a specialization for the same in M.Phil. It is only after completing their M.Phil that clinical psychologists get to deal with patients who require clinical attention. A counseling psychologist on the other hand possesses a master’s degree in a field related to psychotherapy. More often than not, they have a Master’s in counseling psychology. However, there are a lot of counselors across the country who do possess a doctorate in psychology.

When it comes to training background, there are various differences between counseling and clinical psychologists. The best clinical psychologist in Mumbai would possess highly specialized training in the diagnosis and psychological treatment of mental, behavioral, and emotional illnesses. They are trained to use the most up-to-date version of the DSM published by the APA to guide and confirm their diagnoses as well as their treatment plans. Clinical psychologists aim to reduce the psychological distress of their patients and enhance and promote psychological well-being. They deal with various mental and physical problems such as anxiety, depression, addiction, and relationship problems. To assess their clients, they use various methods like psychometric tests, interviews, observation, etc. Due to their roles as researcher-practitioner, they are also involved heavily in scientific research and in the evaluation of current services to provide a strong evidence base for practice.

A counseling psychologist, on the other hand, integrates psychological theory and research with therapeutic practice. Counseling psychologists work closely with clients to look at their mental health issues and explore the underlying problems that cause them. They work collaboratively with their clients to empower them to make decisions for themselves that improve their sense of personal well-being. They are trained to work across a range of human problems like bereavement, relationships, mental health issues, and other significant life events. Their training is more focused on research areas such as human behavior, development, and personality. Counseling psychologists pursue academic training that is more focused on therapeutic approaches rather than research and carries strong theoretical backgrounds that help people work through issues impacting their mental health.

Even though there is considerable overlap between counseling and clinical psychology, the main difference between them stems from their training and perspective on treatment. Counseling psychologists generally focus more on a healthier, less pathological population whereas clinical psychologists focus on individuals with more serious mental health issues such as psychosis. While a counseling psychologist goes in-depth and tries to find the root of the issues, clinical psychologists focus on treating the symptoms presented by their clients. The reality is that both types of psychologists work with similar patients in similar settings, so their approach to therapy is what sets them apart.

So how should you choose the right therapist for you? Should you go for the best clinical psychologist in Mumbai or work with a counseling psychologist? Choosing the right therapist is of utmost importance when it comes to starting your mental health journey. The right therapist will help you recognize and change things like negative thought patterns and problematic behaviors that are affecting your life while also accepting you for who you are. A good therapist will help you improve without judging you for your struggles. Being selective in your choice will help you make the most out of your time in therapy. It is important to choose the therapy that possesses strong credentials and effective interpersonal skills.

Deciding on the right therapist is based on various factors like specialty, personality, cost, and scheduling. However, of all the factors, finding a therapist that you click with is perhaps the most important. Hundreds of studies show that a strong client-therapist relationship is crucial for the success of therapy. A positive and supportive client-therapist relationship is based on several factors, including:

Personality: A positive connection (but not a friendship) with your therapist is important. This is often referred to as the sense of rapport.

Trusts: You should trust your therapist enough to discuss your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors even when they are scary or uncomfortable to talk about.

Authenticity: A good therapist is someone who is honest and genuine, and demonstrates knowledge but omits jargon. This means that they are able to simplify complex terms and explain them in a way that you can understand and grasp.

Unconditional positive regard: A good therapist values you and believes in your ability to progress.

Positive communication: Therapists should communicate openly and warmly even when they are pointing out areas of your growth. At no point will a good therapist exhibit judgemental or hostile behavior.

Your own preference or comfort level: The best healing happens when you feel connected to and comfortable with your therapist. If you feel like your therapist can’t understand where you are coming from, then that would create hesitation in opening up. For this reason, you may want to find a therapist who is familiar with your identity, like seeking out a male or female or non-binary therapist or a therapist with LGBTQIA+ identity, etc.

Both clinical and counseling psychologists are good starting points for general counseling. One should consider a clinical psychologist if a mental health condition is causing severe symptoms that interfere with their daily life. However, since most of us do not really know what is causing us grief and distress in life, talking to a counselor or counseling psychologist will help you figure out the root cause of your grievances. If you are unsure of what kind of therapist would be better suitable for you, starting off with a counselor will surely be much better as it would burn less of a hole in your pocket. Another Light Counseling, a mental health organization that specializes in trauma, gender, sexuality, addiction, and kink-affirmative therapy, can be a good starting point for the same. With a dedicated team of counselors that specialize in intersectional, queer, feminist, and empathetic counseling, one would surely find a counselor that can connect with them and help them kick start their journey to healing. With a rigorous training background, well-trained therapists, and low cost of therapy, Another Light Counselling is working ambitiously to be the perfect charioteer in the long, winding journey to the mental well-being of their clients.