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Clear Water Lake
  • What is the difference between all of the letter combinations at the end of counselors' and therapists' names?
    Counselors and therapists have a wide range of educational backgrounds, training, and varying rights and abilities to offer services under government regulations. I’ll list the credentials below you will most likely see as you search for someone. • LMHC – Licensed Mental Health Counselor • LMFT – Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist • LCSW – Licensed Clinical Social Worker • Psychologist You will also notice letters after their names that represent a counselor’s or therapist’s educational background. These can be more confusing, as some degree types, such as an MS, can be given for hundreds of fields of study. So, you should be curious about what these degrees mean as you look more closely at a person you are considering. • Master’s degree letters for counselors/therapists include MS, MA, MEd, MSW • Range from 2-5 years beyond a bachelors • Doctoral degree letters counselors/therapists include PhD, EdD, PsyD • Range from 5-8 years beyond a bachelors This is not a complete list, and you can find more information about each credential and type of degree in the articles under the resource menu tab.
  • What should I expect from the process if I have never been to counseling?
    While there are things that may be very different across different counselors and therapists, there are some things that will very likely be similar. When you first reach out to someone, you can expect that there will be an initial assessment (or structured learning) process to determine what you need from counseling. Once this initial assessment process is completed, you can expect the counselor to talk to you about how they plan to work with you and what will be expected of you as you work toward your goals. After this, the process can vary widely based on their approach to counseling. The next FAQ question addresses this issue…
  • How do I know which “approaches” or “theories” would be good for me?
    As you search for a therapist or counselor, you’ll notice they tend to share a lot of information about their “theory” or “approach” to their work. While it is not possible to list all of these approaches (see the articles below for more detailed information), there are some things to consider as you search. 1. Do you prefer a more structured, goal-setting process of change, or do you prefer to be more open and exploratory as you seek change? 2. Do you believe that your challenges/problems are rooted in your childhood experiences, or do you see them as more related to recent experiences in your life? 3. Are the issues that bring you to counseling related to serious or severe traumatic experiences, or are these issues more related to other larger patterns in your life? 4. Do you prefer a philosophical, “big picture” way of thinking about your challenges, or do you prefer to be more pragmatic and detail-focused about them? These are not the only questions to consider, but reflecting on these should be helpful as you talk to potential counselors and read through their websites.
  • How do I learn more about the cost and billing for seeing a counselor?
    This information should be freely available on their websites under sections such as “Services” or “Cost/Billing.” If you are paying for services without involving third-party health insurance, the cost can range from $100-$200 an hour (this is only a rough estimate – it can vary widely). If this is the case for you, and you cannot afford this amount, you can ask if there is a “sliding scale” available – this refers to a process by which a counselor may be able to lower your payment based on your income. If you use third-party insurance, your cost will depend on that insurance’s policies. Also, you should verify with your counselor or therapist that they are able to bill your insurance directly. It may be possible to take advantage of your insurance benefits even if the counselor does not take your insurance, but you will have to submit the paperwork on your own after paying full price for the session first.
  • Once I find a counselor, I want to reach out to explore if they would be good for me. What should I ask them?
    The most important predictor of effective counseling and therapy is the strength of your trust and relationship with that person. If you can build a strong working relationship with them, that relationship will serve as the foundation for most good outcomes that can result from counseling. That being said, in my opinion, you should look for a counselor or therapist who is willing to have a brief (hopefully free) conversation with you about the potential good fit for you both working together. This would ideally be at least a video or phone call, but you may also be able to learn enough by email (although it is hard to determine comfort with someone by email). If you are able to talk to them, you can ask things such as: • Do you have experience working with [your issue/problem here]? If so, what have you found that works well for this issue? • What do you believe is the most important thing for counseling to be successful? What is your role and my role in making counseling successful? • How do you know when a client is making progress toward getting better or reaching their goals? • What are some examples of what we might do together based on what I have shared with you? You do not need to share your entire story or problem with them – just enough to get a sense of what they would think about when working with you. Trust yourself to ask any follow-up questions based on how they answer the questions above – the foundation for effective counseling is a strong relationship with your counselor, so trust your own beliefs and needs as you ask these questions.
  • Additional Articles about Choosing a Therapist
    These articles sometimes differ in their advice, but I believe in offering all potentially helpful information to you as you consider choosing a counselor. These sources may answer questions and concerns that I have not addressed above. How to Find a Therapist featured in How to Choose the Best Therapist or Counselor for You featured in 15 Things to Look for in a Therapist featured in Advice for choosing a Counselor featured in How to Choose the Right Therapist featured in
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