Finding the right therapist-client match is a critical factor in determining how helpful therapy might be for a person.
Most therapists agree that your level of personal comfort (also known as rapport) is an essential factor in determining whether or not to work with a particular clinician. Also, it’s imperative to choose someone with experience and interest in working with your particular issue. Aside from considering the personality and interests of a potential therapist, it’s important to know the credentials of who you are entrusting to provide care.
Q: Does it matter if a therapist is licensed and how do I distinguish between the different types of therapists?
A: Licensure laws are intended to protect the public by limiting licensure to those persons qualified to practice psychology as defined by law. The state of Florida permits basically five types of mental health clinicians to become licensed and provide services to the public – only a psychologist and psychiatrist are licensed at the doctoral level. In some cases, you may find a practitioner who holds a Ph.D. and uses the prefix “Dr.” but holds a master’s level license.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT): A therapist with a Masters or Doctoral Degree in family/marital counseling and specializes in serving persons involved in interpersonal relationships.
Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC): A counselor with a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling or a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and has received training in counseling and psychotherapy techniques.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW): A counselor with a Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work and is trained in some forms of counseling and psychotherapies.
Life Coach: Life coaching is a practice that helps people identify and achieve personal goals. At this time, Life Coaching is not a regulated practice meaning there are no education and training requirements or oversight by any licensure board.
When interviewing a potential therapist, consider asking the following questions:
- What license do you currently hold? How many years have you been practicing as a licensed clinician?
- What experience do you have helping people with the issue I wish to receive assistance?
- What are your areas of expertise?
- What is your treatment approach, what types of interventions do you use, and have they been proven effective for dealing with my kind of problem or issue?
- What are your fees for initial and follow-up appointments? How long are therapy sessions?
- What types of insurance do you accept? Do you accept Medicare or Medicaid? Will you assist me with billing my insurance company?
- Have you ever been reported to a regulatory board or investigated for questionable practices?