How do you find a counselor for Depression or Dysthymia?

By David Joel Miller.

Looking for help for your depression.

Reader question, thought I should share this with all readers as you might miss it as an answer to an older post. This was a comment on the Dysthymia post.

“I have a question: How do you find a professional who specializes in the treatment of Dysthymia? Someone who is really good. Searching for such a person in Michigan. Medications, by the way, are a waste of time. They don’t work for me. Can you suggest someone for me? Thanks!”

Great question. Let me make some suggestions. I am out in California and do not know professionals back there in your area. But the process is likely the same everywhere.

1. If you have not done so see a medical doctor first, there are some medical conditions that can look like depression or Dysthymia.

2. If you have a history of substance abuse, alcohol or drugs, get that treated first or concurrently with the Dysthymia  Even after people stop using they still have the old thinking and it does not change without help.

3. Interview the counselor you are considering seeing.  Picking a therapist is kind of like dating, you may find the right person the first time, but you need to get to know them a little before you make the commitment.  Progress in therapy is all about the relationship.

4. Look for someone who treats depression. The process is very similar in treating Depression or Dysthymia  If the depression comes from a recent bad event this is more like adjustment disorder. If you are depressed because you lost your job you need someone who can work on career counseling. Dysthymia is generally more long-term and you may need to look at things you learned as a child that no longer are helpful. I prefer to work from a Cognitive Behavioral or Rational Emotive perspective. Narrative therapy can also work.

5. Avoid a counselor who advertises things that do not fit you. Men should generally avoid a therapist that advertises they use a “feminist” perspective. Don’t see a Muslim counselor if you are a Christian or vice versa. Most good counselors work with everyone and do not put that sort of thing in their advertising.

6. Expect to do a lot of work on yourself. A good therapist is like a good tour guide, they can tell you about the trail but you need to take the hike.

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books


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