black and white business career close upHow do I know what type of mental health care provider to choose?

Licensed Professional Counselors, Psychologists, Psychiatrists…your options for mental health care seem to grow by the minute!  For those of you who may not be familiar with these terms, here is a brief summary:

  • Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs): LPCs have completed a Master of Arts in Counseling, attained at least 3,000 hours of post-graduate experience, and have passed several tests to become fully licensed.  Most therapists provide therapy in regards to a wide variety of mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, self-esteem, etc.  Some LPCs have attained additional certifications and specializations in a specific area of study such as Marriage & Family Therapists (MFTs), EMDR therapists who specialize in trauma, substance abuse therapists (CRADC), registered play therapists (RPTs), etc.
  • Psychologists: Psychologists have completed their doctorate degree, have completed their post-graduate experience, and have passed extensive tests.  They are able to do psychological testing, which can be helpful in attaining an objective mental health diagnosis.  I sometimes refer my clients to a psychologist when their diagnosis is unclear.  Psychologists can also provide therapy for their clients. 
  • Psychiatrists: Psychiatrists have completed their doctorate degree, have completed their post-graduate experience, and have passed extensive tests.  Their focus is on prescribing medication to help with mental health symptoms that are too difficult to handle on your own.  Some psychiatrists even do genetic testing to determine which medications are a best fit for your body.

Overall, when choosing a mental health care provider it is most important that you feel comfortable and safe with the professional you select.  Sometimes this happens instantaneously, and sometimes it takes awhile for clients to build trust.  However, it may be comforting to know that you are free to choose a different health care provider at any time.  Your mental health care provider can likely provide you with referrals to other agencies and/or clinicians.

What if I don’t have the same religious views as you? 

I have worked with a wide variety of clients throughout my 10+ years of counseling experience, many of whom have not been Christians.  My role as a counselor is to focus on what your goals are for counseling.  For some clients that means exploring their spirituality and for some clients that means focusing on other areas.  I encourage my clients to initiate a dialogue in our counseling session(s) about their beliefs and how they would (or would not) like to incorporate their beliefs into our counseling process.

Do you offer a sliding scale rate? 

Health insurance companies require that we bill consistently at our published rate.  At this time, I do not provide a sliding scale rate for private pay clients.

How long does the counseling process last?

Due to everyone’s unique situation, it is nearly impossible to determine how long the counseling process will take for you.  For example, if a client’s goals are to learn more about career options and their vocational interests, counseling can be a fairly short process of 8-10 sessions.  For other clients who may have severe complex trauma, therapy will likely be a much longer process.  At our first counseling appointment, I often ask, “How will you know when you are done with counseling?”  The amount of time you spend in counseling is always up to you.  What you would like to achieve during our time together and how motivated and dedicated you are to the process are, in my opinion, two of the biggest determining factors of a client’s counseling duration.