Choosing a Therapist or Marriage Counselor

It is easy to get confused about all the different types of therapists, and their different degrees and licensures. Below is a brief guide to help you find the right kind of therapist for you.

There are several important consideration in choosing a therapist. Experience is a plus, but so is enthusiasm for the work. The therapist’s ability to work from a variety of different modalties can be very helpful, allowing therapy to adress your concerns from multiple perspectives. Licensure can ensure that a therapist has some breadth of training, but licensure is not enough. It is vital that therapists have their own practice of personal growth so that they can keep their personal issues out of the therapy.

Most important, however, may be your sense of personal rapport with the therapist. How do you feel speaking with him or her? Do you feel safe? Do you understand them when they describe how they help people? Do you respect their intelligence? Do you feel cared about?

Sometimes people immediately give a lot of power to a therapist. Rather than question whether the therapist is a good fit for them, they disregard their intuition. Make sure you stay in charge of your choice of therapist. And choose someone who supports you feeling empowered to make your own choices throughout the therapeutic journey.

Marriage and Family Therapist

The Marriage and Family Therapist license is the most common license for providers of individual psychotherapy, couple counseling and family therapy. It requires a master’s degree and 3000 hours of clinical internship. More information on MFTs is available at www.camft.org

Clincal Social Worker

Licensed Clinical Social Workers are also common providers of individual, marriage and family therapy. The license requires similar training as an MFT, but the social work focus includes specific training in helping clients access community resources. More information about Social Workers is available at www.naswca.org

Psychologist

Licensure as a psychologist requires a doctorate degree. Psychologists often have specialized training in areas such as psychological assesment. They commonly provide individual psychotherapy and may offer couples counseling as well. More information about psychologists is available atwww.cpapsych.org

Psychiatrist

Psychiatrists obtain an MD by going to medical school. They specialize in treating more severe mental illness. They are the only mental health practitioners capable of prescribing medication. While their training in medicine is thorough, their training in psychotherapy may represent a smaller portion of their graduate education. More information about psychiatrists is available at www.calpsych.org

Referrals to specific practitioners are avaialbel on the Links & Referrals page.