The WBI Guide to Selecting a Therapist

When a therapist is necessary...

The help you need has to be locally delivered. We suggest using your health insurance, if you have it still, to meet with a counselor. Counselors can be Masters-prepared (MA or MS in clinical or counseling psychology or LCSW clinical social workers). Psychologists have either a PhD or PsyD in clinical or counseling psychology.

Psychiatrists are physicians (MD) who are able to prescribe medications for psychological distress. In most states, only psychiatrists can order medication. In some states psychiatric nurse practitioners or physicians' assistants (ARNP, PA) can also order medication. Most counselors work collaboratively with a professional who can prescribe and monitor medications.

Your current or former employer may offer employee assistance (EAP). Unfortunately, we have heard many stories from targets who tell us their EAP counselor(s) did not honor confidentiality and/or showed sympathy to the employer who pays their contract. Consequently, it may be best for you to find an independent, licensed mental health professional.

Types of Counselors to Hire

You may be reluctant to quiz prospective therapists on the phone prior to an initial appointment. Remember, you are the client. You are paying or directing insurance dollars to their pockets. Shopping for therapy is a consumer task. Therapists are in business. If he or she makes you feel uncomfortable when you ask the questions we suggest you ask, do not use him or her as a therapist. If, during the initial session, a therapist makes you uncomfortable...feel free to leave that session.

You probably tolerated bullying too long. That's why you're seeking a therapist now. So don't let a therapist bully you and worsen your emotional health.

Questions to Ask When Shopping for Therapists

Try to interview 3 or more therapists (or their receptionists) before scheduling the initial session. If it doesn't work out with one, you will be able to call on another.

If the therapist resists the concept of workplace bullying and is not open to learning, do not hire that person. If he or she underestimates the role of a work environment, which includes having a bullying boss and an unsupportive HR, this type of therapist is likely to blame you for your fate. You cannot work with a therapist who has a conflict of interest. He or she will defend the employer and be biased.

Most contemporary counselors use "cognitive-behavorial" approaches that would include desensitization techniques that work well to decrease anxiety. Most therapeutic philosophies work well for treating the emotional harm caused by workplace bullying, with exception to psychoanalytic or psychodynamic approaches.

Types of Counselors to Avoid

Specific Referrals to Clinicians

WBI offers specialized training for professionals interested in working with clients and patients to address issues related to workplace bullying. Keep checking this page for updated links to clinical professionals WBI recommends with confidence.

In summary, the task of finding a therapist cannot be passive. You must be a questioning, active consumer. If this threatens any therapists you screen, avoid them.

Your experience with bullying validates years of research. Bullying clearly affects the psychological health of targeted people.

Good Luck,

Workplace Bullying Institute

Special Note to Clinical and Medical Practitioners

Healthcare providers seeking advanced training on unique treatment considerations and therapeutic strategies well-suited to working with targets of workplace bullying and work-related trauma, click here.


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