Finding the Right Mental Health Care in San Diego

With San Diego’s abundance of treatment options and mental health professionals, each promising different approaches and better results, finding the right care for you or a loved one can be an added stressor in an already challenging situation. Below, Krista Roybal M.D., Executive Medical Director and Founder of True Life Center for Wellbeing, an integrative mental health and addiction treatment center located in La Jolla, answers three common questions about taking that crucial first step toward recovery and wellness.

Now that you’re ready to get help for your depression, how do you decide whether you need a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a therapist, or a counselor?

First, it’s commendable to have the courage and awareness to seek help. Reaching out to any of the professionals listed would be a good place to start. All have the training and insight to refer you elsewhere if need be, depending on the severity of your depression and the kind of support you are looking for. Generally speaking, you will need to see a psychiatrist (all of whom hold M.D.’s) if you are interested in exploring medication as part of your treatment. Psychologists, therapists, and counselors are differentiated mainly by their education, training, and licensure. As you begin making phone calls, inquire about the credentials, specializations, and treatment approach of each. It’s most important that you find someone you trust and feel comfortable with. An indication of a good fit is if you feel that this person gets you. If at that point you’re still unsure, I recommend contacting a comprehensive treatment center like True Life, where all of the professionals you mentioned are under the same roof, and a team member can listen to your unique story before providing recommendations.

Someone suggests you attend rehab for your bipolar disorder, but isn’t rehab for addiction?

Your friend may be using the term “rehab” to refer to inpatient treatment programs (also known as residential treatment), which require that patients live in the facility for the duration of treatment. Though a majority of inpatient facilities deal primarily in addiction, residential mental health treatment programs do exist. Whether or not inpatient is the right solution for you depends on a number of things, including the severity of your illness, the stressors in your environment, your financial situation, and your treatment goals. If you’re looking to focus solely on recovery without worrying about the distractions of daily life, inpatient programs offer a controlled environment, close supervision, and highly scheduled days. Alternatively, outpatient mental health treatment centers like True Life typically offer programming that allows patients to spend several hours a day, several days a week at the facility. These type of programs, commonly called Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP), are often more affordable than their residential counterparts, provide increased schedule flexibility, allow patients to maintain work and family commitments while receiving treatment, and give patients the opportunity to immediately incorporate what they learn at treatment into their real lives.

With the high cost of therapy, can it be good enough to talk to a friend about your problems for free?

It’s true—good mental health care is not cheap, nor should it be. You are paying for the time and expertise of a professional who will remain objective and confidential while listening for understanding, encouraging independent thinking and self-reflection, and delivering feedback designed to promote long-term, sustainable growth. Your friends, wonderful as they may be, are simply unable to provide the same type of guidance. I encourage you to consider the cost of not seeking professional help. Ignoring or delaying treatment often comes at great personal cost in terms of job performance, broken relationships, physical health and more. Your life and wellbeing are worth investing in!

If you have any questions about mental health treatment, please give us a call at 858-384-4535 or visit We are happy to assist you in finding the care you need, even if True Life isn’t the right fit.