So you know you want to get counseling, but where do you start?
Here are the five basic types of therapists.
Social Worker (LISW-CP)
This professional must have a Master’s or doctoral degree from an accredited social work program, and two years of supervision experience. Clinical Social Workers can assess and diagnose mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders, and addictions and other conditions. Clinical Social Workers perform individual, family, marital, and group therapy. They are the largest group of mental health providers.
This professional is a medical doctor with three years of specialty training who evaluates and diagnoses all types of mental disorders. Psychiatrists can prescribe medicines, often called psychotropic medicines, and can hospitalize patients. They may specialize in geriatric, adult, and/or children and adolescents.
Psychologist (Ph.D., Psy.D, Ed.D)
This professional has a doctorate. He or she must also have specialty training and meet experience requirements. Specialties include: clinical, counseling, industrial/organizational, community, school, social, and experimental psychology. Psychologists can conduct and interpret psychological, intellectual, and academic testing.
Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
This professional must have a master’s degree in marital and family therapy or equivalent and specified work experience under a licensed marriage and family therapy supervisor. He or she works with families, couples, and individuals on the resolution of problems.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
This professional must have a master’s degree in counseling or equivalent plus two years full time experience. LPC’s work with families, couples, and individuals on the resolution of problems.
Steps to take before your first appointment.
Call your insurance company, see our list of therapists, ask your doctor, or talk with knowledgeable friends who have benefited from therapy for help in finding the right therapist for you.
If it is important that your insurance covers your therapy, you will first want to check with the mental health provider department of your insurance. You might have a preferred provider panel of therapists.
Know the benefits and risks for engaging in counseling as well as your rights as a clientWhen speaking with a mental health provider look for the above initials after the individuals name (i.e. M.D., LISW-CP, LMFT, or LPC) Professionals not licensed, but who market themselves as a counselor, or therapist should be avoided.
Credentials and licensure are essential, but if you have any ethical concerns about your particular therapist, contact the therapist's licensing agency to ask questions or make a report.
Be aware of the pros and cons of Psychotherapy.
Persons contemplating counseling should realize that clients frequently make significant changes in their lives. People often modify emotions, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Clients may make changes in their marriage, may change employment, or adjust other significant aspects of their life. Please ask if you have questions about the benefits and consequences of counseling.
Engaging in individual, couples, or family therapy is voluntary. Counseling is a mutual relationship terminable by counselor or client, at any time, for specified reasons. You have the right to end your therapy. If you do so, please discuss any reasons with your therapist.
By law and ethical obligation, your therapist collects and maintains all information about you in strict confidence. and can only release your information with your written permission to specific persons or institutions for specific reasons. However, South Carolina statutory law specifies certain confidentiality exceptions. Your therapist's Office Policies and Information should list these exceptions.