Here you will find a list of frequently asked questions related to mental health counseling /therapy services. Feel free to look around or contact me if you have any questions that are not answered here. Additionally, take a look at the resources page for more information!
What is the difference between a counselor and a therapist? How can individual therapy sessions help me?
The titles counselor and therapist are used interchangeably and are a matter of preference for that particular mental health provider. The most frequent question I get asked is: So what is it exactly that you do? - which might be a shortened way of asking: What is therapy or counseling & what happens during an individual counseling session? In a typical counseling session, you can expect the therapist to summarize the contents of the previous session and allow you the opportunity to discuss situations that you hope to gain clarity about. As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, I am an expert listener and professional secret keeper that will serve as a sounding board for you. I cannot give you advice but I am able to offer you different points of view - by both challenging you and assisting you.
From my experience, individual therapy is the most beneficial when the client is willing to openly and honestly share about their life - versus fostering the unrealistic belief that the therapist possesses mind-reading abilities - I wish! Counseling is a partnership between the therapist and the client, which is built upon a foundation of trust, unconditional positive regard (i.e. not feeling judged), clearly established boundaries, and genuineness.
What you can gain from counseling sessions varies from person to person, with some benefits being (but not limited to): improving communication skills, decreasing levels of anxiety/depression, increasing self-worth/self-esteem, working through past trauma/difficult experiences, learning to recognize unhealthy patterns, identifying strengths/finding purpose, and utilizing coping skills to address habits that no longer serve you.
What is the difference between a LMHC, a LCSW, a LMFT, a Psychologist, and a Psychiatrist?
It is easy to feel confused and overwhelmed when starting to look into therapy services due to the different types of mental health providers out there, with many letters behind their names.
- LMHC = Licensed Mental Health Counselor
- LCSW = Licensed Clinical Social Worker
- LMFT = Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist
- PsyD = Doctor of Psychology (referred to as Psychologist)
- PhD = Doctor of Philosophy (if specialization in psychology = Psychologist)
- MD = Doctor of Medicine (if specialization is in psychiatry = Psychiatrist)
In order for someone to carry the credentials LMHC, LCSW, or LMFT behind their name they must have earned a Master's level degree in a counseling field and have at least two years of post-master's supervised experience. In addition, LMHC's, LCSW's, and LMFT's must have passed the licensing exam within their state. Psychologists are mental health professionals who have earned a Doctorate level degree in Psychology (PsyD's typically are more clinically oriented in their education, whereas PhD's have more of a research-centered education). Psychiatrists are those professionals who have earned the title of Medical Doctor (MD), with a specialization in Psychiatry, and are one of the only mental health professionals who are able to prescribe/manage psychotropic medications. Usually psychiatric medication management appointments will be 30 minutes or less, with varying time between appointments, depending on whether a medication is working. The purpose oftentimes of meeting with a Psychiatrist is to stabilize mood, to monitor for side-effects, and to assess whether there are any other medical conditions that might need to be assessed. During counseling sessions, you will most likely meet with a therapist for 45 to 60 minutes once a week, which will gradually be tapered down based on progress noted by the client and therapist.
What insurance(s) do you accept at River Blossom Wellness?
I am considered an out-of-network provider, due to wanting to work in the best interests of my clients and potential clients. When using insurance for counseling, the managed care company will often dictate the amount of sessions that you are allotted (usually short-term therapy because their goal is reduce costs for the insurance company) - versus the amount of sessions a client might actually need.
Utilizing insurance also means that your private information (for ex: documentation from clinical notes) will likely have to be shared with a utilization review or insurance employee, in order to be reimbursed for payment and/or determine need for continued services. This process can be time consuming and could lead to therapy being paused for a time, while waiting on approval.
Additionally, working with managed care companies requires the therapist to provide a mental health diagnosis in order for the client to be reimbursed. Sometimes a person wants to come to therapy to work on a relationship issue or self-esteem which may not fit the bill of any mental health diagnosis, whereas working with insurance would force a therapist to determine a mental health diagnosis that will be a part of a person's permanent health record. My goal is to truly be there for my clients by providing quality care.
Can a counselor or therapist prescribe medication? Can going to therapy help me to get off psychotropic medication?
A counselor or therapist cannot prescribe medication, since we do not hold medical degrees in psychiatry. If you believe that you need psychotropic medication or are in need of psychotropic medication management the most appropriate provider to see would be a Psychiatrist (MD). In recent years, some Doctorate in Psychology programs have offered additional certification for Psychologists to have the option to prescribe medication - if you are able to find one of these providers. Additionally, Psychiatric ARNP's (Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners with a specialization in Psychiatry) are able to provide medication management services, under the supervision of a Psychiatrist. If you are in need of psychotropic medication management, refer to our resources page for more information.
For those whom are prescribed psychotropic medication, the best treatment outcomes come when you meet with both a counselor and a Psychiatrist. Medication treats the symptoms, whereas talk therapy treats the person (i.e. the stuff that has led up to symptoms being expressed). Ideally, the counselor will communicate with a client's Primary Care Physician and/or Psychiatrist in a team effort to provide insight on observed changes in behavior and progress made in treatment. For some people, counseling can greatly diminish the need for medication by increasing the use of copings skills, which might lead to a gradual taper down of psychotropic medication (tapering down of medication should only done under the care of a Physician).