How can therapy help me?
Therapy can be helpful to you in a number of ways.
A therapist can help you work through daily life
struggles, provide support, assist you in developing
better coping skills, work on problem-solving strategies,
help with your management of stress, and assist you in
understanding your insecurities in order to build self-
confidence and self-esteem.
A therapist is trained to help you cope with anxiety,
depression, grief, anger, guilt, shame, and any feelings that could be causing you distress. Therapy allows for the ability to examine issues arising within your interpersonal relationships, including difficulties with dating and partners, premarital and marital strife, and the sometimes painful and frustrating dynamics that may be occurring within your family environment or with friends and co-workers. A therapist can help identify and address barriers that could be stopping you from having intimate and fulfilling relationships with others, including fears of abandonment, mistrust, and resentment.
Therapy can aid you in finding underlying issues that are causing artistic and creative blocks, and can help you to explore your sexuality and identity, body image issues, and feelings of loneliness. Working with a therapist can help you create better boundaries so you do not feel taken advantage of by others, and can assist you in finding and listening to your own voice. In doing so, you can learn how to be a greater advocate for yourself.
Additionally, a therapist can help you discover how to change old behavior patterns, and how to communicate with others in a way that can benefit your relationships. Therapy can help you address unsettling childhood memories and traumatic experiences. It can often be very helpful to get a new fresh perspective on long-term life difficulties that have caused you much anguish. Overall, therapy can help you gain a better understanding of yourself, allowing for a resolution of the issues that may have originally brought you to therapy.
When looking for a therapist, it can be very confusing
and challenging to determine the differences between
a psychiatrist, psychopharmacologist, psychotherapist,
Psychotherapist is a broad umbrella term used by
many different types of therapists. Psychiatrists,
psychopharmacologists, social workers, clinical
social workers, psychologists, psychoanalysts, mental
health counselors, family therapists, and others, often
use the word psychotherapist to define their profession.
Sometimes those with little to no mental health training will incorrectly describe themselves as a psychotherapist. It is important to understand the variations in degrees, licensure, and types of training between each professional, in order to ensure that you are receiving therapy that is right for you.
The term counselor has also been used interchangeably with the term psychotherapist. Counselor can be used to describe someone who is a life or career coach, a school or spiritual advisor, or an attorney or financial advisor. The term counselor can also be referring to someone who is a licensed and practicing psychotherapist.
Practicing as a life coach does not require a degree or certification, and does not require experience or supervision. Life coaching is not a regulated profession by the state. There is no license, and therefore no government oversight or universal standards of practice. A life coach can be beneficial in certain ways, and can be used as a mentor for those seeking guidance for issues such as goal-setting or career decisions. However, this type of counseling is not interchangeable with a licensed professional who provides psychological treatment.
I recommend that you look at a person's academic degree, find out how much post-graduate training they have received, and how much clinical experience they have completed, in order to best evaluate their potential level of expertise.
The following list includes various types of degrees and licensures that a psychotherapist could hold:
Psychiatrists and Psychopharmacologists are graduates of medical school (MDs) and they prescribe psychiatric medications. They typically do not conduct "talk therapy". In order to receive "talk therapy", you would usually need to separately see a therapist.
Licensed social workers (LMSWs), Licensed mental health counselors (LMHCs), and Licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFTs) have completed their master’s degree as well as the required clinical training towards licensure, and have passed a licensing exam.
Licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) are social workers who have already completed the requirements to obtain their LMSW, and who then complete an additional 2,000 hours of clinical experience under supervision for a minimum of three years, in order to practice psychotherapy. LCSWs are required to take a second licensing exam.
Psychologists have a doctoral degree (PhD or PsyD) and will have had at minimum two years of clinical psychotherapy experience under supervision. Psychologists will have passed a licensing exam. Since psychologists are trained to administer psychological testing, therapists will sometimes refer a patient to a psychologist if testing may be beneficial.
Psychoanalysts have completed a 4 to 6 year psychoanalytic training program at a psychoanalytic institute. Acceptance into these programs typically requires that candidates be licensed as an MD, LMSW, LCSW or PhD., and to have already accumulated substantial mental health experience prior to attending the program.
Some psychoanalytic training programs accept those from other professional backgrounds. Candidates from other professions complete psychoanalytic training in order to become licensed as an LP, a licensed psychoanalyst.
All licensed psychotherapists with the above titles are required to take continuing education courses every year, in order to maintain their license. This helps to ensure that psychotherapists are always working to sharpen their skills and expand their repertoire of knowledge, and exposes therapists to contemporary learning and advancements in the field.
Will everything I say to a therapist be kept confidential?
There are very strict laws in place that protect the confidentiality of communications between a therapist and a patient. In fact, no information can be disclosed without permission from the patient. That permission must be in the form of a written consent.
There are a few exceptions, as required by law, which include:
A therapist is required to report to authorities if there is suspected child abuse, dependent adult, or elder abuse.
If a patient intends and plans severe bodily harm to another person, the therapist must notify police.
If the therapist finds that a patient intends to harm themselves, the therapist will make efforts to work with that person in order to ensure that the person remains safe. However, if that person is still a threat to themselves, a therapist is obligated to protect a patient from harm, and may take additional measures in order to do so.
If your health insurance provider has out of network mental health benefits, and you intend to use these benefits in order to receive reimbursement from your provider for therapy sessions, your provider will require the therapist to provide a clinical diagnosis to them. Your provider may also require session notes and treatment plans in order to provide you with reimbursement.