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Frequently Asked Questions About Therapy

Why see a therapist? The reasons people choose to see a therapist vary. Therapy can be beneficial for a wide range of problems such as depression, loss, marital strife, parent-child concerns, or emotional distress. Some people need help getting through a specific life event. Some want an unbiased perspective on an issue they are struggling with. Regardless of what brings you to therapy, it can be an opportunity to grow, learn, and heal.  

Who do I choose? Psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, pastoral care counselors, and life coaches are several options for individuals who are seeking help. How do they differ?

Psychiatrists (MD):

  • Are licensed medical doctors who can prescribe medication
  • Have completed training in a psychiatric residency program
  • May provide therapy (also known as psychotherapy) but most focus on medication management  (some do both)

Psychologists (PhD):

  • Are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medication
  • Have completed a doctoral program as well as post doctoral experience under supervision and passed a licensure examination
  • Provide therapy and diagnostic testing

Licensed Professional Counselors (PhD/MA LPC):

  • Are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medication
  • Have completed either a doctoral or a master’s level program, a supervised postgraduate internship, and passed a licensure examination
  • Work with individuals, couples, families and groups
  • Provide therapy and diagnostic testing

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (PhD/MA LMFT):

  • Are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medication
  • Have completed a doctoral or master’s level program, a supervised postgraduate internship, and passed a licensure examination
  • Specialize in working with families to improve relationships among family members; also work with individuals, couples and groups

Pastoral Care Counselor

  • Training depends on the religious denomination. Most denominations require licensing and post-graduate training and supervision

Coach or Life Coach

  • No standardized training or licensing required
  • Since the field is unregulated at this time, clients must   

rely on information provided by the coach

How do I find a therapist? The most common ways to find a therapist include asking:

  • Insurance carrier
  • Physician
  • A friend or family member

Will insurance cover the sessions? You may choose to see a therapist who is on your insurance company’s provider list or you may choose to see one who is not on the list. If you choose a therapist who is not on the list, the insurance company might consider the therapist to be an out-of-network provider. In such cases, it is up to the discretion of the insurance company to decide whether or not they will reimburse you. You also have the option of self or private pay which means you pay the fee yourself.

How do I know if I’ve made the right choice? The emotional connection that a client makes with a therapist oftentimes has a greater impact on the success of the therapeutic process than the type of therapist chosen. The therapist must provide an atmosphere of safety and trust for the client. If, after a few sessions, the client doesn’t feel that he or she is making any progress, it is important to discuss it with the therapist.

The client determines his or her own goals in therapy, not the therapist’s. The client and therapist work together toward achieving client’s goal. It is normal to experience a certain amount of discomfort when facing difficult issues during the course of therapy. If the client feels that a change of therapist would be best, the therapist should be supportive of that decision. A proper fit between therapist and client is essential toward goal achievement.

How long will therapy last? Many people think that therapy is a long and drawn out process. Very often that is not the case. There are many different approaches to therapy. The needs and goals of the client determine which approach would be most suitable. Some clients achieve their goals in as few as two or three sessions, some take longer.  A goal is defined by the client during the first session. The client and the therapist work together toward attaining that goal.

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