Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Clinical Social Worker, Mental Health Counselor, Marriage and Family Therapist: Aren’t they all just the same name for a shrink?
Sometimes the different professions in mental health can be confusing. Here is how they are different. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in understanding how medications for mood disorders interact with the body and other medications you may be taking. Some psychiatrists may provide occasional therapy but they primarily provide medication. Psychologists are doctors who specialize in understanding mental health and focus heavily on testing and assessment. Sometimes they provide counseling but do not prescribe medication. Licensed Clinical Social Workers often provide counseling but have a special focus on helping clients identify resources and services to assist them with their problems. Both Mental Health Counselors and Marriage and Family Therapists provide counseling for a variety of mental health issues. However, Marriage and Family Therapists take a more systemic relational approach to mental health issues. Marriage and Family therapists have specialized training in issues surrounding couples and families as well. The only mental health providers who prescribe medication are Psychiatrists.
I’ve never talked to anyone. I’m used to handling things on my own. Aren’t people who go to therapy weak?
Not at all. People who ask for help know when they need it and have the ability to reach out. Everyone needs help now and then. You already have some strengths that you’ve used before, that for whatever reason isn’t working right now. Perhaps this problem feels overwhelming and is making it difficult to access your past strengths. In our work together, I’ll help you identify what those strengths are and how to implement them again in what is happening now.
What’s the difference between talking to you or my best friend or family?
The difference is between someone who can do something, and someone who has the training and experience to do that same thing professionally. A mental health professional can help you approach your situation in a new way– teach you new skills, gain different perspectives, listen to you without judgment or expectations, and help you listen to yourself. Furthermore, therapy is completely confidential. You won’t have to worry about others “knowing my business.” Lastly, if your situation provokes a great deal of negative emotion, if you’ve been confiding in a friend or family member, there is the risk that once you are feeling better you could start avoiding that person so you aren’t reminded of this difficult time in your life.
Why shouldn’t I just take medication?
Medication alone cannot solve all issues. Our work together is designed to explore the root of the issue, dig deep into your behavior and help you accomplish your personal and/or relational goals.
Medication can be effective and is sometimes needed in conjunction with therapy.
How does it work? What do I have to do in sessions?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. I tailor my therapeutic approach to your specific needs
How long will it take?
Unfortunately, this is not possible to say in a general FAQs page. Everyone’s circumstances are unique to them and the length of time therapy can take to allow you to accomplish your goals depends on your desire for personal development, your commitment, and the factors that are driving you to seek therapy in the first place.
I want to get the most out of therapy. What can I do to help?
I am so glad you are dedicated to getting the most out of your sessions. Your active participation and dedication is crucial to your success. After all, we only see each other for a session a week. It’s the work you do outside of our sessions that will really help you see your personal growth and development.
My partner and I are having problems. Should we be in individual counseling or come together?
If you are concerned about your relationship, and you would both like to work with me, I would initially work with both of you together. After this work, if one of you would like to continue in individual sessions, I could work with only one of you. It is not helpful to move from individual into couple’s work with the same therapist because of potential trust issues.