How do I find a mental health professional who is right for me?

    Getting professional help to overcome pornography may feel intimidating.

    The following questions can help guide your decision in choosing a mental health professional who is right for you. There are many options and questions to consider when choosing to get the help you need.

    Mental health professionals are qualified to diagnose and treat mental health conditions. Most have at least a professional degree or more advanced education, training, and credentials. Be sure that the professional you choose is licensed to provide mental health services. Note that how much the professional charges or how much education they have received is not always the best indicator of how qualified or helpful they may be.

    What type of mental health provider do I need?

    A good starting point may be determining the type of mental health professional that best fits your needs and circumstances.

    Professionals often specialize in certain areas such as depression, substance abuse, or family therapy. The following are some of the most common types of providers.

    • Psychiatrist
    • Psychologist
    • Psychiatric-mental health nurse
    • Licensed clinical social worker
    • Marriage and family therapist
    • Professional counselor

    To learn more about each of these professionals, see the article “Finding a Mental Health Professional Who’s Right for You” (Ensign, Jan. 2019, digital only).

    What should I consider when choosing among the various types of mental health providers?

    • Reason for seeking counseling. Most mental health professionals are qualified to treat most mental health challenges, but you may wish to choose one that specializes in overcoming pornography or another area directly contributing to your use of pornography.
    • The type of treatment needed. Many pornography users may have issues regarding their biological, psychological, social, and spiritual influences. As a result, you may need to see more than one mental health provider. For example, you may need to see a psychiatrist to prescribe medication, another mental health provider for counseling, and an ecclesiastical leader for spiritual help.

    Your budget. You should choose a professional that you can afford. If you’re able to, look for a provider who accepts your insurance. It's important that you are able to continue treatment for the amount of time you need without undue financial constraints.

    How can I identify the best mental health provider for me?

    To find a mental health provider, you might consider:

    • Seeking a referral or recommendation from a trusted friend, family member, Church leader, medical doctor, or LDS Family Services (if there’s an office in your area). Access to LDS Family Services may be discussed with your bishop or branch president.
    • Searching the internet for professional associations that have directories of mental health providers in your area.

    What questions should I ask when choosing a mental health provider?

    Consider discussing these questions with potential mental health providers:

    • Do they have moral values like your own?
    • What education and training did they receive? How many years of experience do they have?
    • Do they specialize in treating individuals who are seeking help in overcoming pornography use?
    • What insurance providers do they work with?
    • What are their office hours, fees, and length of sessions?
    • How far away is their office from your work or home?
    • Are they accepting new patients?
    • Do they offer individual therapy, couples’ therapy, or both? Which type or types of therapy do you feel would be best for your situation?
    • What needs does your spouse have? Would they also benefit from meeting with this professional?

    It is OK and appropriate to ask questions like these when determining whether a mental health provider is right for you. You can ask these questions prior to making your first appointment. Pay attention to your initial emotional response when you talk with the professional. Trust yourself and your judgment. Consider whether they seem to be a good fit for you, your needs, and your personality.

    Finding the right fit is crucial to establishing a relationship of trust and getting the most out of your treatment. You should seek revelation regarding the best provider for you as you prayerfully consider your options.

    Finally, take courage. Too often, we resist seeking the help we need due to the depth of our pornography problem and a lack of confidence that professional treatment can help when all else has not. As we seek the Lord’s guidance and strength, we can be led to take the steps toward healing that are right for us.