Finding an experienced Muslim therapist near you for your life, your child, and your marriage is a daunting task.
There’s the alphabet soup of PhDs, PsyDs, MDs, MSs, and MSWs, not to mention all the labels — psychiatrist, psychologist, marriage & family therapist, family counselor, licensed professional counselor, and social worker.
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It’s true; all these therapists provide mental health services. But each brings different training, experience, insights, and character to the table. How can you find a therapist who is right for your needs?
Take heart, for the search, will be worth the effort. “A good therapist, however you find them, is gold,” Don Turner, MD, a private practice psychiatrist for 30 years in Atlanta, tells WebMD.
“A good therapist is nonjudgmental, accepting, and patient. Otherwise, our patients are just getting what they grew up with.”
First, let’s look at the professional labels:
Psychiatrists: These are doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of mental or psychiatric illnesses.
They have medical training and are licensed to prescribe drugs. They are also trained in psychotherapy, or “talk” therapy, which aims to change a person’s behaviors or thought patterns.
Psychologists: These are doctoral degree (PhD or PsyD) experts in psychology.
They study the human mind and human behavior and are also trained in counseling, psychotherapy, and psychological testing — which can help uncover emotional problems you may not realize you have.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the psychologist’s main treatment tool — to help people identify and change inaccurate perceptions that they may have of themselves and the world around them.
Psychologists are not licensed to prescribe medications. However, they can refer you to a psychiatrist if necessary.
Social Workers: These are specialists that provide social services in health-related settings that now are governed by managed care organizations.
Their goal is to enhance and maintain a person’s psychological and social functioning — they provide empathy and counseling on interpersonal problems.
Social workers help people function at their best in their environment, and they help people deal with relationships and solve personal and family problems.
Licensed Professional Counselors. These counselors are required by state licensure laws to have at least a master’s degree in counseling and 3,000 hours of post-master’s experience.
They are either licensed or certified to independently diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders, says W. Mark Hamilton, Ph.D., executive director of the American Mental Health Counselors Association.
Sorting It Out
When you start your search, keep an open mind. A therapist does not need decades of experience — or a sheepskin from an ivy-league school — to be helpful, says Turner.
“It used to be that a psychiatrist was considered most qualified because he or she had more education,” Turner tells WebMD. “But that’s not true anymore.
Some psychiatrists got their licenses 25 years ago and haven’t kept up. Many psychiatrists who are trained today just handle medications. You can have a primary care doctor do that — it’s not like psychiatrists are indispensable!”
Turner refers patients to professional counselors and social workers when appropriate.
They often specialize in counseling couples and families and coordinating group therapy sessions, he says. “Some are good, some aren’t. Some are excellent.”
“Credentials aren’t everything,” says Robert Baker, PhD, a psychologist and program director of the behavioral medicine unit at the Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans.
“Even people with great credentials aren’t necessarily great therapists. They may be smart, but that doesn’t mean they have good common sense.”
Where to Start?
Collect Names. “Don’t start with three names from your managed care company,” advises Avrum Geurin Weiss, PhD, author of the book, Experiential Psychotherapy: A Symphony of Selves.
He is a child/adolescent psychologist and director the Pine River Psychotherapy Training Institute in Atlanta.
Very likely, you don’t have the company’s entire list of providers, Weiss tells WebMD. “Insist on getting the whole provider list.
Then ask friends and colleagues if they know a psychologist or psychiatrist who could make recommendations from that list.”
Here are a few experienced Muslim therapists to look out for in your quest to find peace and tranquillity in your life;
Throughout my life, I have negotiated what it means to be queer and Muslim, to feel and be seen as different, both to myself and the world.
This lived resistance informs my commitment to serve 2SLGBTQ+ communities through an anti-oppressive, anti-racist, decolonial, and intersectional lens.
I work with addictions, anxiety, depression, gender/sexuality, life transitions, mood, newcomers and refugees, palliative care, people living with HIV, racial trauma, sex and intimacy, and substance use/misuse (including PnP/chemsex and crystal meth use).
If you don’t see your experience mentioned here, please reach out to chat further!