FAQ's & Helpful Links
What is the difference between a counselor, psychiatrist, and psychologist?
Licensed Professional Counselors provide counseling in a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals. Counselors work with clients on strategies to overcome obstacles and personal challenges that they are facing (www.counseling.org).
A psychologist has the professional training and clinical skills to help people learn to cope more effectively with life issues and mental health problems (www.apa.org).
Psychiatrists are physicians (medical doctors) who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental health and emotional problems (www.psychiatry.org).
My personal and professional experience is that a psychiatrist (not all) primarily prescribe medication following a thorough assessment and then following with brief “medication checks.” Historically psychologist provide diverse assessments and research although currently more is being offered in counseling by “Clinical Psychologists.” These two professionals require a doctorates degree to practice independently. A Counselor is most focused on individual and family wellness, being supportive and restorative in healing mental health.
For licensure all three disciplines have had extensive education and practical experience as part of required licensure.
Can you prescribe medications?
Professional Counselors cannot and do not prescribe medications. In the course of therapy if both Clinician and client believe a viable option in conjunction with therapy is medication, a clinician may refer an individual to their family physician or a psychiatrist.
Do I have to take medications to be in counseling?
No. Counseling is based on an empathic relationship of trust and empowerment of the client. Empathy recognizes, welcomes and treasures the individuality, personhood, identity, spirit or soul of the other human being in all its shared and unique aspects. (Dr. Peter Breggin, www.empathictherapy.org) It is my personal and professional belief medication can interfere with one’s ability to present the intensity of depth of emotions and cognitions.
How often and for how long will I need to come to counseling?
Every therapist and every person who walks into their door is different with unique needs. Therapy (interchangeable with the word counseling) is based upon the relationship between the therapist (interchangeable with the word counselor) and the Client. In my practice I prefer to see Clients two to three times weekly after the initial assessments to build a therapeutic relationship as well as setting a direction and goals for therapy.
What is the difference between counseling and therapy?
Both have a specific and generic connation. Counseling has origin with military veterans, in the church with pastoral counseling, spiritually the Spirit as Christ as The Counselor and in support organizations (AA, NA, etc,). A “professional counseling” organization, and requirements for licensure was born in the 1970s. The profession has grown with requirement of a Master’s Degree, involving an internship and following graduation a residency for licensure. Therapy literally means "curing, healing" and is the attempted remediation of a health problem, usually following a diagnosis and applies to mental, as well as, physical health. Professional Counselors are typically trained in diagnosing and treatment of mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, etc.
Can't I just talk to someone I know who's a good listener and get the same help that I would from a therapist?
Friends and family can be a tremendous source of support when we face a crisis and/or have to deal with adjustments in our lives. A Clinician or Therapist however, is impartial, they are not emotionally invested in the circumstance and help without bias. Education and training has given the Clinician a knowledge and insight into how our thoughts, emotions and behaviors can create havoc in our lives. They are taught how to assess each area and have training in how to help the individual take a healthier direction.
How can talking to you help me?
Talking allows venting of emotions, expression of thoughts and discussion of behaviors. In the professional setting opportunity is to understand each area, learn to recognize and reconstruct hurtful and unhealthy areas. The goal then, is ultimately, to take from the session something which will enlighten the individual and/or improve their life, their relationships and family through the week and throughout their life.
What will happen if I get upset or cry in a session?
As a Clinician/therapist, I have sought help during two separate parts of my life. Each began with an outburst of emotion (and a ridiculous question). Is that normal? Many Clients present without tears in the initial session, sometimes it is later in the therapeutic relationship, and sometimes never. Is it okay? It is not only okay, but informative to know the depth and degree of one’s emotion.
What will happen in the first session?
Subjective assessments are given to discern duration and intensity of symptoms. A complete psychosocial history will be started, and if needed, completed in future sessions.
Is what I say to you confidential?
What is said in sessions stays in session! Information is disclosed if there is statement of threat to oneself or another. At times Clients maybe in the position that they believe an agency, lawyer or another entity will want information. Each situation is discussed individually with the Client as to what is shared. Individual notes in session are only released if subpoenaed by a judge as they involve privileged conversation.
How is therapy paid for? Do you take my insurance?
Therapy can be paid for with insurance (my office will check to see if I am a provider), Employee Assistant Programs, State Office of Victims Assistance (SOVA) and Self-Pay.
Is medication a substitute for therapy?
Medication is considered a form of treatment but not a substitution for. Many of the medication that are prescribed flatten emotion, i.e. I don’t want to cry, feel sad, or I am really afraid. In my practice I prefer to meet with and have several sessions with a Client prior to their starting medications. If they are already on medication the combination of medication and therapy is productive in monitoring for side effects and efficacy of the medication.
For helpful links click on the name(s) below
Trichotillomania - hair pulling and repetitive skin picking.
Empathic Therapy - a therapy model developed by Dr. Peter Breggin, a psychiatrist who promotes an empathic approach while using minimal psychotropic medication.
http://www.drugwatch.com/ Drugwatch Homepage
http://www.drugwatch.com/ssri/ Antidepressants Information
http://www.drugwatch.com/risperdal/ Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder Medication