What’s the difference between a LCSW, LMFT, LPCC, Licensed Psychologist, and Psychiatrist?
Here is the simplified answer:
LCSW – Licensed Clinical Social Worker, holds a masters in social work, has clinical training and experience (had an internship) and is licensed to provide psychotherapy privately.
LMFT-Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, typically holds a masters in psychology or counseling, has clinical training and experience (had an internship) and is licensed to provide psychotherapy privately.
LPCC-Licensed Professional Counselor, typically holds a masters in counseling, has clinical training and experience (had an internship) and is licensed to provide counseling privately.
Licensed Psychologist– Holds a doctorate in psychology, has clinical training and experience (had an internship) and is licensed to provide psychotherapy privately.
Psychiatrist – Holds a medical degree, specializes in psychotropic medication, rarely provides psychotherapy. Is the only one on this list who can prescribe medication.
Bottom line: When it comes to psychotherapy, the letters behind the name don’t matter as much as how you feel and your comfort level with that therapist.
Can I use my health insurance?
If you have mental health benefits, it is possible to use your insurance. However, you will be required to have a diagnosis and the insurance company is privy to your treatment. This means that it is not as private as you might like. My policy on insurance.
Do you prescribe medication?
No, psychotherapists who are not medical doctors do not prescribe medication. That would be done by a medical doctor (psychiatrist if you want a specialist in psychotropic medication).
What should I expect from psychotherapy?
It may seem scary if you have never gone to therapy, but if you are with the right therapist, it can be a life-changing experience. The first appointment typically involves going over paperwork and getting information on your history, why you are coming, and what your expectations are. There is a lot of talking and listening. It is a time just for you, and most people leave (at least from my office) feeling relieved that they could talk freely about whatever is going on and hope that someone understands and can help them. You and the therapist will talk about some goals for therapy (what you would like to see/feel at the end of therapy), and the therapist will guide you in the direction you want to go. Though it may not be emotionally comfortable all the time, and actually may feel painful at times, the results are worth it when you get to the other side!
Does going to therapy mean I’m going crazy or really ill?
Absolutely not! In fact, some people go just for monthly check ins after the initial work is done. Some people do a chunk of growth work, take a break, and come back when they feel like they need/want more.
Is psychotherapy confidential?
Yes, with exceptions. If you give written permission for the therapist to disclose information to a third party, then certain information may not be confidential. If there is any suspicion of child or elder abuse, the therapist is a mandated reporter, and required by law to make a report, thus breaking confidentiality. In addition, if you are at risk of harming yourself or someone else, the therapist may need to break confidentiality to protect you or that other person. Any order of the court may also require the therapist to break confidentiality. My Confidentiality Policy.
How do I know if therapy is right for me?
It is very difficult to go wrong with therapy if you are with a solid, ethical licensed therapist. Sometimes a person has had an experience earlier in life in therapy, but feels turned off or like it didn’t do anything. When explored, this is usually due to a mismatched client and therapist and/or the client is not “ready.” By ready, I mean motivated to change some kind of internal or external circumstances, open to the emotional work it may take, and willing to invest in themselves and their relationships.
How do I choose the right therapist?
Getting personal referrals and searching on-line are the most common ways to find a therapist. Take some time to talk to a few therapists over the phone or on-line to see how you feel. Trust your gut. If you start therapy, and decide you want to try someone else, that’s ok. Don’t worry about hurting the therapist’s feelings. This is your therapy. You need to feel as comfortable as possible. Beware, however, that you are not switching therapists just because you are “uncomfortable” either. Don’t be afraid to talk to your therapist about how you are feeling! Research shows that much of the healing factor and success of therapy is determined by the therapeutic relationship.