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11 Reasons Why Seeing a Counselor Makes a Sensible FIRST Step (before a Psychiatrist)

11 Reasons Why Seeing a Counselor Makes a Sensible FIRST Step (before a Psychiatrist)


11 Reasons Why Seeing a Counselor Makes a

Sensible FIRST Step (before a Psychiatrist)


It is good to finally decide to do something positive to improve your regular functioning and life. You have just made a major decision, but to meet your expectations, it is critical to stick to the best practices for the treatment of your symptoms.

The most important first step is finding the right professional to help you. It is natural to wonder whom to approach: a psychiatrist or a therapist?

Psychiatrists are doctors. As such, they are often considered the right first choice. For the treatment of emotional symptoms, however, it is an accepted practice to see a therapist first. According to All Psychology Schools, “therapists are licensed professionals who are trained … to provide a variety of treatments and rehabilitation for people. Therapists can be psychoanalysts, marriage counselors, social workers and life coaches, among other specialties.”  While psychiatrists and therapists have common treatment goals, they differ in their treatment strategies and methods. It is possible for them to work together or for a patient to see both.


If you are still on the verge of seeking professional help, the logical professional to see first is a therapist. These are the reasons why:

  1. Reserve the psychiatrist as a last resort. Like many doctors, psychiatrists achieve their treatment goals primarily by prescribing medications. This is one option that you may prefer to reserve for after initial therapy fails or needs to be augmented. Talk therapy, behavior therapy, cognitive therapy, etc. are preferred over medication for achieving wellness—managing your responses, controlling your moods, and helping you feel and think better.
  1. Feel better without medications. Most individuals don’t want to use medication unless it is necessary. Medications are expensive and can cause side effects, some of which can be quite severe. If therapy can achieve the treatment goal, why take medications for the same purpose?
  1. Seeing a psychiatrist is more expensive. The cost is much higher to see a psychiatrist than a therapist. It is common for them to charge about $250 for a 45- to 50-minute first session and $85 for a 5- to 15-minute follow-up session. On the other hand, therapists generally charge $100 for a 60-minute first session and a lower rate for succeeding sessions. Please note that if your sessions are covered by insurance, these specific costs may not apply to you.
  1. Therapists are qualified to evaluate your symptoms. Therapists are just as proficient at methodically assessing or screening your symptoms to make a proper diagnosis. They can decide on the kind of therapy or interventions you need. If the treatment goal can be attained without medication, they can capably help you. If not, they will refer you to a psychiatrist.
  1. It is less distressing to see a therapist. Social stigma is among the roadblocks that most people with emotional issues need to overcome before they seek treatment. Despite being a proactive action, it is still seen by many as something to be embarrassed about. You may experience less stigma from others (and yourself) by seeing a therapist first rather than a psychiatrist. If talk therapy helps you, there is no need to see a psychiatrist right away. If you do need medication to best achieve wellness, a therapist can help you face this possibility.
  1. Therapists can offer you more time. There is a shortage of psychiatrists in America, and they can only allot a limited amount of time when seeing a patient—barely enough to cover medication management and other medical concerns. Therapists, in contrast, can spend more time with their patients. Thus, you do not feel hurried during therapy, allowing you to relax and express how you feel inside.
  1. Psychiatrists generally prefer a referral from a trustworthy therapist. A referral indicates that the therapist has already done the initial evaluation of symptoms and taken medical and family histories for the patient. It also means that the need for medication has already been ascertained. A referral from a therapist makes a psychiatrist’s work more focused and sometimes reduces the time needed for the first session.
  1. Therapists serve as a “fail-safe” strategy if you have severe symptoms. For patients who have more intense symptoms or severe emotional conditions, having a therapist is like having a safety net. If your symptoms are severe, most psychiatrists prefer that you also see a therapist to provide the extra time and assistance they can’t normally provide.
  1. Therapists can assist you in sorting out factors that you need to make critical decisions. You and/or your family have the right to make decisions about your treatment. The best decisions are made when you and your family are enlightened and active participants in the treatment process; this is a necessary step to give you the impetus to cooperate with your therapist (and maybe a psychiatrist too).
  1. You can find a psychiatrist in good standing through your therapist. If it becomes necessary for you to see a psychiatrist, your therapist is in a good position to recommend a respected one in your area. As they likely have worked together before, your therapist will know the ones who have a specialization that meets your needs. This gives you a good chance of finding another expert you can trust.
  1. Reaping the benefits of two professionals. There are cases that are best treated with the help of both a therapist and a psychiatrist, especially when the emotional symptoms are severe and recurrent. If medication and therapy are necessary to improve your day-to-day functionality, a therapist can see you when you need to talk, and a psychiatrist can prescribe the medications that help fix your chemical imbalances.


Now that you have committed to the brave decision to enjoy your life and live it to the fullest, sustain it by seeing a therapist first to achieve your wellness goal. Rather than taking a more convoluted route, do the most economical and sensible thing—see a therapist first.

Your best fit may be an independent therapist contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – Pittsboro, NC. If you call CCS, you can meet the right therapist to sort out your concerns, resolve issues that are standing in the way of your happiness, and help you get your life back on track.


Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Pittsboro, NC

Counties: Chatham, Alamance, Durham, Harnett, Lee, Moore, Orange, Randolph, Wake, NC

Areas: Pittsboro NC, Gulf NC, Hickory Mountain NC, Hadley NC, Siler City NC, Wilsonville NC, Fearrington NC, Mandale NC, Bear Creek NC, Albright NC

Zip Codes: 27207, 27228, 27256, 27312, 27344, 27559


Gail Gustafson, MSW, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 9+) Adolescents and Adults, Individuals, Couples and Families. PTSD/Trauma, EMDR, Adoption, Drug/Alcohol/Substance Abuse addiction, Anxiety, Depression, Bi-polar, Life Transitions, Grief and Loss, Parenting, Family, couples and marriage counseling.
 Insurance: BCBS, Tricare/ Tricare Prime Tricare Select/Extra/Retired and Cash (Credit Cards Accepted, HSA and FSA )
 Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express

Counseling Information

How Do I Set Up my FIRST Appointment?

  • Call: (919) 944-7200 (Fastest way to schedule)
  • Text: (910) 308-3291 (Reply will be via phone)
  • Click here and use our Contact Form (You must include your phone number, because replies will only be made by telephone to ensure security/privacy)
  • Call or Text for your New Patient Appointment Anytime!
  • Appointment scheduling for NEW clients: Mon-Fri 8:30am-5pm
  • Established/Standing Appointments are made directly with your therapist!
  • Referrals: MOST beneficiaries do NOT need a Referral!

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Carolina Counseling Services - Pittsboro, NC
68 Fayetteville St.
Pittsboro, NC 27312

Our Mailing Address:

PO BOX 9909
Fayetteville, NC 28311