Making the decision to see a therapist or counselor is a brave decision. It’s pretty common for folks to wait a long time before they decide to seek out therapy. We are told and come from a culture of self-sufficiency and “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps”. Most of the time we do our best to incorporate coping skills and lean on friends for advice and support. It’s only when everything that we can think of doesn’t work, that we tend to reach out for help with a professional counselor or therapist.
Once you make the decision to seek therapy, finding a therapist or counselor can feel overwhelming.
Here are some helpful aspects to research and consider when looking for and finding a therapist.
Titles: When you are looking for counseling or therapy you will find that people call themselves by different titles. This may be due to credentials (which we will get to below) or just because of a choice. The word counselor or therapist is used interchangeably most of the time. People will call themselves a Counselor or Therapist much like people refer to counseling or therapy. BEWARE: The terms Counselor and Therapist are not protected terms and so individuals without credentials may use these terms and not have the training to be licensed. People may also choose to call themselves a Psychotherapist. Individuals sometimes choose this term to designate that they practice some form of psychological practice but not focus on using their license as their title. Other terms are Psychologist, which refers to a specific license, and Psychiatrist which is a medical doctor that can prescribe medication. Some individuals may go by “Dr.” which can refer to a Ph.D. OR a medical degree. We talk more about the credentials with the titles in the next category.
Credentials: There is a lot of alphabet soup and letters after the names of people that conduct therapy. It’s important that you can interpret the letters that designate someone’s license which authorizes them to practice counseling and therapy in your state. Here are some of the most common Master’s level credentials in Texas
Licensed Profession Counselor (LPC): An LPC is an individual with at least a Master’s degree in a counseling field that has met the requirements of the state to practice counseling/therapy. These individuals have to complete 3000 hours of post-graduate work under supervision prior to being fully licensed.
Licensed Professional Counselor- Intern (LPC-Intern): Individuals that are working on their post-graduate hours are designated LPC-Interns. They are kind of like doctors in residence. They have the knowledge but are supervised to assist them as they are practicing their newly acquired skills. This doesn’t mean that someone will be sitting in the room with you. It does mean that they will confer with a more experienced counselor (LPC-S) about your therapy and enhance their efficiency.
Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor (LPC-S): Some LPCs choose to take additional training in order to work with LPC-Interns. The choice to be a supervisor does not mean that they are better therapists than those without the supervisor title. These individuals do have at least 5 years of clinical experience.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT): These individuals have at least a Master’s degree in social work and are required to complete additional post-graduate hours prior to obtaining their license. Like an LPC, these licenses also have a supervisory and intern/associate component.
Read the Bio: Normally you can find a bio or summary of the therapists philosophy, training, and experience somewhere. You can check their personal website, Psychology Today, of Good Therapy as these are the most common places to find information. Counseling is about change so look for information about how the counselor believes change happens. This might be listed as a theory but hopefully they break it down into plain English. It might be something like, “I believe that working with people’s behaviors and beliefs and addressing past events helps people to move in a different direction”. You want to get a feel or flavor for who the therapist would be with you. Do think they will “get you” after reading the bio. Feeling connected with your therapist is important! You might also want to look for information on specialized training which tells you that the therapist might have more of a niche than someone who is more of a generalist.
Google: You already know that you can find all kinds of things when you Google. Many therapists have a professional social media accounts on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram. This will give you a little bit more of a feel for who they are. You can also find reviews and rating sometimes on Google. Don’t be surprised if you don’t find too much in regard to ratings as leaving a rating requires a person to admit they attended therapy. You may be pleasantly surprised what you find though.
Ask a Friend: This might feel a little scary but the fact is that many people attend counseling and therapy; they just don’t talk about it. If you are brave enough to ask some friends, most of the time they will may know of someone to recommend or someone to steer clear of.
Finally, remember that it is OK for you meet with a counselor or therapist a few times and decide that it’s not a good fit. This sometimes happens and counselors know it. It’s kind to let them know this and sometimes they may be able to recommend someone else if you are able to tell them what you need instead. Fit is the most important part of the process so you can feel comfortable sharing and making changes in your life!
If you need help finding someone that is a good fit for you in Denton, TX., give us a call for a free 15 minute phone consultation today! 940-565-8300