Or, you may be thinking “What should they be?”. In any case, it’s important that you think about what you’d like to accomplish during counseling. Consider the following:
In addition, does your counselor
I describe some of the critical factors that go into choosing a good match for you on the home page. In addition to these things, I’d encourage you to ask about your rights as a client. While many therapists do explain these, some do not.
Furthermore, there are limits to the confidentiality of your sessions with a mental health counselor. The forms that your practitioner should go over with you during the first session are called Informed Consent. These forms explain these limits and other aspects of the therapy process. Your counselor ought to explain these to you in the first session, and if not, you should ask him/her about this. More on this here, as well as information about other aspects of informed consent.
Well, that depends. Insurance coverage varies widely from plan to plan, and some counselors (like me) do not accept insurance, preferring to keep the third party out of the relationship between client and counselor. There are advantages and disadvantages to insurance, if you’d like further information on my stance, click here.
Here are some critical factors as to whether or not your expectations for counseling are met:
If you do all of the above, you have gone a long way toward maximizing the chance that you’ll get the most possible out of the counseling experience. I will tell you from my experience that when my clients apply themselves in the manner described above, they almost always gain a tremendous amount of value from the experience.
You’ll notice that, like many other helping professionals, I use the words therapist and counselor interchangeably. Is there a difference? Does it matter? Yes it does.
To call oneself a psychotherapist, one needs to have specific credentials. Counselor is a bit more general, even mental health counselors don’t necessarily need specific credentials to use that title. However, regardless of what they call themselves, mental health professionals should have credentials, and this is the important part.
Here is what I’d encourage you to look for (not necessarily in any order):
LCSW: Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Someone with a Master’s Degree in Social Work who also has completed 3500 hours of practice under a licensed supervisor and has passed the Oregon LCSW exam.
LPC: Licensed Professional Counselor. LPC’s also have worked under a licensed professional, and have completed 2400 hours of direct client work and passed their professional examination.
Ph. D licensed psychologist: Generally this is someone who has earned a Ph. D in clinical psychology, and has then completed the requirements for licensure. The requirements can be found here
PsyD: Although not found as often in Oregon, the PsyD credential is also used by some who practice mental health therapy. The PsyD is a professional doctoral degree designed to prepare students for a career as a psychologist, which means they can practice as mental health therapists.
In your search for a mental health professional, you may find others who call themselves counselors, therapists, etc. Ask what their credentials are. Be your own best advocate, you want to ensure that you receive assistance from someone who has the experience and education that you’d expect.
It is important to note that there are ‘peer professionals’ who do not necessarily have higher education degrees who provide excellent support and guidance. I know several personally. If you choose to get help from someone like this, fine. Just know that they may not have the education or experience that you want, and may not be able to go into issues to the depth that you'd like (especially if you are wanting longer-term therapy).
Bottom line: Know what you’re getting! Nothing is worse than seeking help from a helping professional who isn’t what you thought they would be!
I sincerely hope this page has helped you clarify your expectations for counseling. It's worth the time and effort to do some research; after all, your counselor has a pretty important influence in your life!