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How can counseling help me?

Counseling services give you an opportunity to discuss your concerns in a private, supportive setting.  I am trained to help you explore your situation and discover solutions in a way that emotionally vested people in your life (family, friends, coworkers, etc.) often cannot.  Everyone experiences bumps and hiccups in life sometimes, and counseling professionals are here help you navigate these so you can achieve your relationship, productivity, and emotional goals.
Among the things I can offer you:
  • Emotional Health Education ("What is going on, here??")
  • Diagnosis and Behavioral Treatment Options ("How can I get some relief?")
  • Behavioral Health Strategizing ("What can we do to move forward?")
  • Help With Family Concerns ("We're stuck.")
  • Distress Reduction Strategies ("I'm so overwhelmed!") 
  • Relaxation Training ("Aaaaaah...that's better.")

What about confidentiality?  Is it really just between us?
With a few very specific exceptions, the answer is an unequivocal "yes."  Confidentiality is one of the most honored ethical standards of our profession.  Because counselors are mandated reporters, the only time we can discuss your presence in therapy without your permission are:
  • Suspicion of abuse of a child
  • Suspicion of abuse of a vulnerable adult (e.g., elderly, disabled, etc.).
  • Suspicion of imminent danger to you or someone you know.
In these cases, I limit my disclosure to what is necessary to address the situation.

What are all those letters after your name?

Two parts:
* First, M.A. -- I graduated from Seton Hall University with a Master of Arts in Counseling.

*Second, LMHC -- I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the State of Washington.

* This credential is a GOOD thing -- before July 2009, anyone in Washington could pay a fee and call themselves a counselor. Today, counselors must be credentialed by the state in a specific category reflecting their education and experience.  LMHCs must have at least a master's degree with a counseling focus, 3000 hours or 3 years of full-time supervised practice, and pass an exam by the National Board for Certified Counselors.

I've heard of psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, therapists, etc.  What does it all mean, and what's YOUR role in all this?

While services offered vary between individual practitioners, here are some general guidelines:

PSYCHIATRIST-- A medical doctor who has specialized training in the evaluation and treatment of mental health disorders.  Primarily, they diagnose disorders and prescribe medications for psychological problems.  Unlike the Freudian days, modern psychiatrists do not often perform psychotherapy.

PSYCHOLOGIST-- A Ph.D. or Psy.D. (doctorate-level) practitioner who -- in most states (including Washington) -- cannot prescribe medications, but is extensively trained in formal psychological evaluation.  Some do psychotherapy, some work in a more evaluative/scientific capacity in academic or legal settings.  Psychologists may diagnose and behaviorally treat mental-health problems.

COUNSELOR-- A master's (or sometimes doctorate)-level practitioner who cannot prescribe medications and generally does not perform formal psychological testing.  Our training is primarily in the diagnosis and psychotherapeutic treatment of client concerns.  Comparatively, counselors (that's me!) may provide the most face-to-face time at the least cost.  If I believe you would benefit from a referral to another type of professional (for medication or a psychological evaluation, e.g.), I am happy to help you find one.

THERAPIST-- Describes any of the above practitioners who engage in psychotherapy.  

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