Why It’s Important to Work with a Specialist

Let’s talk about the importance of choosing a specialist when deciding on a mental heath provider.

Recently, in an online professional group, a group therapist shared that leading groups is not that much different than conducting individual therapy. Not true! There’s so much more that goes into working with groups – into studying and working with group dynamics- that I was surprised to hear a professional make this statement. When I think about everything that was involved in earning my Certified Group Psychotherapist credential – the hundreds of hours of experience, supervision, and education required in order to earn this title – I wonder how individual therapists can so comfortably make the transition to group therapist without similar training.

The same goes for working with particular disorders and specialty areas. In my work, I have acquired specific specialties in working with eating disorders and substance use disorders. This goes beyond the generalist training that most therapists receive and that equips us to work with more commonly presenting conditions such as anxiety and depression. For me, the ability to work competently with eating disorders and with alcohol and substance use disorders involved years of supervised experience using evidence-based approaches. Not every therapist knows how to work with these disorders, and even the most well-intentioned therapist can do a lot of damage trying. In the same way, I would never try to work with conditions with which I have no (or minimal) experience treating. If someone comes my way who struggles with a developmental disorder, psychosis, or certain personality disorders (among other conditions), I readily refer out to specialists in these areas.

So if you’re seeking help for an eating disorder or an alcohol or drug problem – or for that matter, any specific concern, ask your potential provider:

  1. How long have you been working with this disorder?
  2. Did you receive supervised experience in working with this disorder? How/where were you trained?
  3. What type of approaches do you use to work with this disorder? Are they evidence-based?
  4. Do you collaborate with other professionals on your cases?

Please Contact Us at Gatewell to learn more about choosing a specialist that’s right for you.




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