There’s a lot more to talk therapy than talking about feelings.

Many men don’t recognize that opening up to tackle their issues is actually a sign of strength. Talk therapy (formally known as psychotherapy) is a widely recognized and well-supported treatment for depression, typically as or more effective than medications, but with no side effects and longer lasting benefits.

A lot of men are reluctant or anxious about talking to a therapist, but once they do, they often say it’s the best thing they have could have done for themselves.

  • Psychiatrists and clinical psychologists are the most highly trained professionals who provide talk therapy.
  • Other professionals who may offer psychotherapy include clinical counsellors, social workers, occupational therapists, and psychiatric nurses.
  • Any of these professionals should be registered with a regulating organization, and should welcome your questions about their qualifications and experience.

Many therapists work in mental health centres and community agencies that provide free or low-cost services. Others work in private practice, which is not typically covered by public health plans. Be sure to ask about the therapist’s fees. In Canada, only the services of psychiatrists are fully covered by your provincial health care (in Ontario, family physicians also provide psychotherapy under the provincial care plan). Some student, employer, or private health plans may cover a limited number private therapy sessions.

It may take a bit of courage to get started, but talk therapy has played a pivotal role in recovery for many guys. Here are some tips on how to find a therapist:

Ask for recommendations:

The best place to begin is by talking with your family doctor to ask for his or her recommendation.  You could also ask friends, family members, or other trusted contacts for recommendations for a therapist. If you get a good lead, start there. Head to the bottom of the page for tips on what to say and ask a potential therapist. 

Check provincial/state or national associations:

  • Search professional association directories for registered psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, or social workers.
  • You want someone who specializes in treating depression, and if possible any overlapping health issues.
  • Depending on where you live, you might have many or very few options. Sometimes, it can be hard to decide who to try, but everyone listed on these types of sites should have the proper training and credentials to at least help you get started on the recovery process.

Search other online directories:

  • Online consolidator directories are becoming more common and make it easier to connect with a therapist near you. These directories – which essentially are paid service advertisements – pool listings of psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, and social workers into one site.
  • Look for someone in your area who specializes in treating depression.

Do a general web search based on location:

  • Try using an online search engine (e.g., Google) to search for therapists in your area (psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, and social workers)
  • You’ll want to make sure the therapist you choose has been put through the paces by appropriate training programs – check for credentials and professional registration.

Online or remote therapies:

If you can’t find someone in your area, there are a growing number of websites and services now offering to connect you to a therapist online. Though we strongly recommend seeing someone in person, the online route is still a better option than not seeing anyone at all. The same principles as above apply – look for someone who specializes in depression and has the proper training and credentials.

What to say:

Ideally, you will end up with more than one lead. Call and request an initial appointment, either by phone or in person, to ask the therapist some questions.

Here are some examples of how to set up an appointment.

  • “Hi, I’m having some issues with stress and depression. I’m wondering if you are accepting clients and if we could set up an initial appointment?”
  • “What are your usual hours and are they flexible?”
  • “What are your fees?” (Do you offer a sliding scale for fees?)
  • “Do you also have expertise in ____?” (other health conditions you may have)

Once you get to your appointment, be honest. Explain your symptoms, what’s going on in your life, and other factors that are contributing to problems with stress and mental health.

Once started, keep in mind that it takes a few sessions to know whether you and your therapist will be a good fit.  Results may not come right away, but know that through your hard work and persistence in therapy, recovery from depression is possible.

See Talk Therapy for our full guide.

HeadsUpGuys is a website dedicated to fighting depression in men. Our site features practical tips, information about professional services and stories of recovery. It also has a self-check tool that can help determine whether or not depression may be affecting you.

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