Beyondpondering's Weblog

Northwest Arkansas Therapy

SO …WHAT IS COUNSELING? June 29, 2014

Filed under: Therapy — beyondpondering @ 5:20 pm

6. So… what is counseling?

A lot of talk ? Mamby-Pamby stuff?

Being told to just get over it?  

Pull your self together?    

A sign of weakness? Poor Character?

 

NO ! Indeed not.   

Counseling is about the therapist’s education and experience guiding you to self-exploration and understanding. It is the therapist’s education and experience which helps you find your own values, which in turn help you find the path which is right for you.

If you are “stuck”, the therapist can ask questions or present new ideas to help you get “unstuck”.  Perhaps these ideas are ones you just haven’t come to yet.

 There is also a lot of listening on the part of the therapist. Being able to tell your story to a non-judgmental listener helps in the healing process. Sometimes therapy is about validation. Trauma makes it difficult for a person to believe his or her own perceptions. Perhaps trauma makes you question yourself. You wonder: Did that really happen? Was THAT what I thought it was? A therapist may help confirm your perceptions. A therapist may help give new explanations to your perceptions.

Perhaps due to circumstances, you may not give yourself permission to feel the way you do. A therapist may validate your feelings or present a new point of view about your feelings. Remember…facing feelings can be frightening. But you can do this.

 Sometimes there are medical issues, which mimic psychological matters. A wise therapist will want you to see your Primary Care Physician to make sure there are no medical issues. Sometimes a person has a poor functioning thyroid and this can seem like depression. Hypoglycemia can seem like anxiety.

 Therapy is often guided talk and listening, to get the pieces of the puzzle put together. It may mean questioning and probing for information. This is to gain a fuller picture of what is happening in your life. Please remember this is done to help you help yourself.  

 We have talked about overcoming your fears to initiate the thought of going to a therapist. We talked about various aspects to consider when selecting a therapist. We reviewed ethics, education, licensures, costs, and what counseling entails. All in all, you have more courage than you know. The next step is to ask friends or family if they know any therapists. Perhaps you feel better surfing the web for information. There are professional associations that have therapist directories. Some therapists have their own websites.

 Remember your three choices stated in the first segment of this series: Keep it the same; make it worse; or MAKE IT BETTER. Continue your forward movement and make some phone calls. Talk to a therapist and “check them out”. I have faith in you to make good decisions. Congratulations for coming this far.

Advertisements
 

COST June 21, 2014

Filed under: Therapy — beyondpondering @ 4:02 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

5. Costs?

Cost is always a consideration these days. Not only is going to a therapist anxiety producing, the thought of going broke in the process, can also be anxiety producing.

“Never Fear, Help Is Here”

Before you flip your wig over the thought of an Associate therapist, there are potential benefits to seeing an Associate. They have most likely met their necessary qualifications. The very fact they have met these qualification indicates their quality. They did not drop out or get booted out of college. They just need time. Even their supervisor has met high criteria to be a supervisor.

If you are under serious financial strain, an Associate may have reduced fees. Besides that, you have the benefit of their Supervisor or Supervisors.   Everything is confidential, yet the Associate will discuss your situation with their Supervisor. This may be in an individual setting or in a group setting. You have the benefit of the ideas, suggestions, and insights from several therapists, for the same price. Now “how about that” as a good value for the price!

A Licensed Profession Counselor and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist have met the high criteria set by the state. They have successfully met all the criteria to get their full licensure. You are essentially purchasing their extra education, extras training, extra experience, greater expertise, and longevity.

Remember the old saying, “You get what you pay for.” 

What is trending these days, is the therapist attempting to remove themselves from bureaucracy to have greater freedom to help you. They may try to keep overhead low by having a sliding fee scale, take cash or credit card. This can allow them more time to focus on you the client, rather than processing insurances, or hire someone else to process insurance.

So what is counseling all about anyway? We will talk about that next time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. LPC or a LMFT ? June 14, 2014

Filed under: Therapy — beyondpondering @ 8:22 pm
Tags: , , , ,

What is the difference between an Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist?

“By the book”…education and perspective.

     “By the book”, an LPC’s education and perspective (or focus) is mainly on the individual.   The focus is on the wants and needs of the individual sitting in the chair in front of them. What does that one individual want?   What does that one individual need?    By the book, an LPC’s education’s main focus is the individual. Our society emphasizes individualism. That is good. That is fine.      I have no problem with that as long as the therapist understands no one is an island.

     We live in a complicated society which involves other people. The client came to be where they are due to multiple factors in society including family, friends, educational institutions, religious groups, so on and so forth. This is what Marriage and Family Therapists emphasizes. Not to say that an LPC cannot.  However, Marriage and Family Therapists get extra schooling which stresses “Family Systems”.

     A Marriage and Family Therapist’s education and perspective takes into account these reciprocal and interactive factors.  An LMFT will take extra classes to learn about these reciprocal interactive factors involved in the client’s world. Then the LMFT must pass through the Associate phase of supervision and practice counseling with a “Family Systems” supervisor.  Furthermore, they pass the MFT board requirements before obtaining their full licensure.

      An “individual” may want emancipation, for example.   A therapist can help with that. However, if that emancipation alienates that person from family, friends, alliances, and other support systems…is that really helping?   If that person becomes emancipated but is unable to support him or herself, is that really helping? A Marriage and Family Therapist will help the client understand these reciprocal interactive factors.

     So… an LMFT may help the person consider the social systems that are involved. The LMFT my encourage the individual to negotiate with family and friends to resolve tangled issues while also encouraging the individual to learn ways to value him or her self; work within the culture or system; or perhaps help the client to find new social support while the client is working on goals.  

     A therapist is not required to obtain their MFT licensure. They can practice with an LPC. An LPC may see couples. However, please be aware, only a LMFT may call themselves a Marriage and Family Therapist. They have earned it. Next time well talk about costs.

 

3. License? June 9, 2014

Filed under: Therapy — beyondpondering @ 10:54 pm
Tags: , , , ,

     As I wrote the last segment, you probably noticed I used the word “Licensed” often.  I like what Merriam-Webster says:  

“Permission granted by competent authority to engage in a business or occupation or in an activity otherwise unlawful”.

     No matter if it is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Social Worker or any other Licensed Psychotherapist, each has an educational and preparatory procedure all perspective therapists are expected to follow. State boards establish these procedures before giving a license to a potential therapist, as a way to ensure quality.

      Each state has its own variation in their expectations: A little more or less, graduate level course work; a little more or less “practice counseling” under the watchful supervision of a more experienced Licensed therapist.  To make a long story short, there are two levels of counseling licensures: A lower level licensure for beginners; and a more advanced licensure.   In Arkansas a counselor must go through and apprentice stage before being allowed to practice more independently at the more advanced level. Merriam-Webster states an apprentice is:  “a person who learns a job or skill by working for a fixed period of time with someone who is very good at that job or skill”.

     In modern language the term “associate” is used. A Licensed Associate Counselor (LAC) or Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (LAMFT) never actually work FOR their supervisor.   However, they are guided, coached, taught, corrected, and perhaps even eliminated by a supervisor, if need be. This is all done to help you, the potential client.

     Arkansas Counselors have all completed a minimum 60 graduate semester hour Professional Master’s degree in Counseling or a closely related discipline (such as Clinical Psychology). They have passed a national examination, and a state examination. They must practice a minimum of 3000 hours under the supervision of an experienced counselor specially trained to supervise new counselors in order to be fully licensed as an LPC or LMFT.

     A Licensed Profession Counselor (LPC) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) have successfully met all the criteria to get their more full licensure. However, even between these two licensures, there are differences. This will be discussed next time.  

 

WHAT ABOUT ETHICS? June 1, 2014

2. Ethics?

What are some of the considerations in selecting a therapist? Allow me to first stress ethics. No matter if it is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Social Worker or any other Licensed Psychotherapist, each has a code of ethics they are expected to follow for their respective state licensing board. A code of ethics helps determine appropriate behaviors for professionals. Feel free to go to the State Board to gain information. A code of ethics is designed to protect the public and the therapist. You can also learn if any disciplinary actions have been taken toward any particular therapist.

 

A therapist is one who is to help you. To do that they need to listen, be kind, and empathetic. However, if a client has never had anyone listen to them, be kind, or empathetic to them, the client might confuse this unconditional positive regard with an emotional connection. It is the therapist’s job to set boundaries and not get involved emotionally with the client in a sexual manner. Now since you are aware of this, what can you do?

 

You need to “work on yourself” rather than get mixed up in an emotional relationship. Nevertheless, if your therapist is a good therapist, you should be able to bring up this topic in session and work through the matter so you can learn to develop healthy attachments and relationships in your personal life. Love yourself enough to not confuse kindness with a potential sexual relationship. Your first responsibility is to yourself and your own personal growth. Focus on your own growth.   Remember you want change for the better, not more confusion.

 

You can do this!