Say the word "shrink" and several things may come to mind. You might think about when you shrink an article of clothing. Or perhaps you think of watching a scary movie that makes you shrink down in your seat. But do you think of psychotherapy? The term shrink was first associated with psychoanalysis after the discovery of several shrunken heads belonging to Amazon tribal members in the 1950's. The practice of psychotherapy has no literal similarities to that of head shrinking as performed by ancient tribes. The physical shape of a person's head does not change as a result of seeing a shrink, but the problematic thoughts and emotions inside their head most often does.

Finding a shrink begins with exploring the reasons for enlisting the help of a psychotherapist. Many people who enter therapy do so without being able to identify a particular event or symptom of concern, just a general feeling of unhappiness or dissatisfaction with the current condition of their life. Other people are more aware of the circumstances that lead them to seek help. Traumas, loss, abuse, depression, anxiety, and stress are just some of the issues that can create psychological unease and motivate an individual to begin the search for a qualified professional to help them overcome negative symptoms.

A personal inventory is the first step on the path toward mental well-being. Reflect on the circumstances and events that are most troubling and are causing conflict in work, family, and personal relationships. A skilled therapist will work to address the most pressing and most distressing issues initially. Once therapy begins, both the client and the therapist have the opportunity to discontinue treatment at any time if it is not the right fit. Not every psychotherapist can shrink every head.

Use every resource available to find a psychotherapist that is qualified, credentialed, skilled, and compatible. Friends and family members may be able to offer personal referrals to therapists that they have used in the past. This is a great way to begin the process of finding an expert. Other resources include therapist directories, other medical professionals, and mental health organizations. Regardless of how you start your journey to mental health, do not be dissuaded by the connotations and stigmas often associated with psychotherapists, such as shrink. The expertise of therapists and the field of psychotherapy are anything but shrinking. They are growing by leaps and bounds to include alternative approaches in addition to traditional methods that are helping people overcome their most challenging issues and empowering them to live positive and productive lives free of psychological impairment.