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You and Your Provider

Some people find it really hard to say what they want and don't want from their treatment. But over the years, more and more people with mental health conditions realize it's their right to speak up. In fact, some people call themselves mental health "consumers" to show that they can choose what services to purchase and where.

There are lots of ways you can team up with your provider:

  • Study up on your condition and possible ways to feel well. The more you know, the better you will be able to discuss your care.
  • Tell your provider your goals for treatment. Think about questions like: What are your main life goals, and what are your goals for treatment? Are there certain behaviors you want to work on most? Is relief from symptoms extremely important, or are you willing to live with some symptoms to avoid medication side effects?
  • Be honest. Your providers can't really help you if they don't know the whole picture. Don't say you're fine if you're not.
  • Keep your overall health in mind. It makes sense that you should work with your provider on overall health issues because your mental health and overall health are so closely related. Too often, people with mental illnesses develop other health conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes. It's a good idea to tell your providers that you want to focus on all aspects of your wellness.
  • If you get treatment in a community clinic, ask to see the same provider each time since an ongoing relationship can help build recovery.

If You're Not Satisfied with Your Care

Feeling comfortable with your provider is very important to the success of your treatment. Of course, few situations are completely peaceful or perfect. In therapy, for example, even though talking about upsetting concerns can be helpful it also can feel very uncomfortable. But if you feel you are not getting results or don't feel comfortable with the therapist, it may be because the treatment you are receiving is not the best one for your needs.

You can raise concerns about your care:

  • Discuss any problems with your therapist. A competent therapist will be eager to discuss your reactions to therapy and respond to your feelings about the process.
  • If you disagree with your provider about your care, state your concerns calmly. Then try to suggest some possible solutions.
  • If you feel your concerns aren't being dealt with, try to arrange a consultation with another therapist to help you decide whether to change therapists. You can also try discussing your concerns with a peer counselor, social worker, or members of a support group. They might be able to offer suggestions of other therapists to seek out.
  • If you are dissatisfied with the services you are receiving from a community mental health center, you can request a consultation with another therapist. If you are still not satisfied, you can ask to speak with the center's administrator. Sometimes, a clinic's patient advocate or ombudsman can help.
  • If you feel your therapist is violating professional standards or ethics, government offices in every state assist in these situations. The Protection and Advocacy (P&A) office investigates complaints about mental health treatment in public and private facilities. Find your P&A office by selecting your state on the right side of the page at

To complain about a mental health professional in private practice, contact your state licensing board, which you can find using the SAMHSA Mental Health Services Locator

Remember that you have a right to express your goals for treatment, and you have a right to be treated with respect and dignity. For more information on your rights regarding your mental health, contact your state protection and advocacy office at