The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions.

Claude Levi-Strauss

I’ve never heard of an LPCC, what does it mean?

LPCC is the abbreviation for “Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor”. This license become available in California in 2012 but is widely recognized around the country. The state of California has rigorous requirements to become an LPCC. This license is on par with the other two Master’s Level mental health licenses available in California, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT).

What are Sue’s Master’s degrees (M.Ed. and Ed.S.)?

Sue received her graduate degrees from the University of Florida’s Department of Education. As a mental health counselor, she was trained with school counselors and school psychologists. She holds two master’s degrees, a Master of Education (M.Ed.) and Specialist of Education (Ed.S.) in Mental Health Counseling. The requirements of the Ed.S. are midway between a masters and a doctorate.

What’s the difference between a Clinical Counselor, a Social Worker, a Marriage and Family Therapist, a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?

All of these disciplines are qualified to diagnose and treat mental disorders. Counselors tend to be broadly trained in mental health , social workers tend to view the individual within the context of their community and society, marriage and family therapists tend to see the individual within the setting of the family. Psychologists have Ph.D.’s and are more rooted in research to treat their clients. Psychiatrists are medical doctors and in addition to conducting therapy, then can prescribe psychiatric medications.

All licensed mental health professionals are well-educated and trained in psychotherapeutic approaches and techniques. Sue believes that the most important aspect to focus on is how comfortable you feel with a therapist and how easy it is to talk to them. You should be able to expect a free phone call or short meeting with therapists you interview to help you decide which one to choose.

Why is there a stigma about psychotherapy?

Stigma is fear-driven process where the feared object is marked with disgrace and is less accepted within the group. Stigma connected to getting help for psychological or behavioral issues used to be a strong deterrent for people. But getting help is now seen as a sign of resourcefulness. Researchers continue to find new links emphasizing the value of taking care of mental health to ensure good physical health, often called the mind-body health connection. Emotional problems can show up as physical symptoms. And when we are physically ill, we may develop emotional issues. The therapeutic relationship, however, is unique because it allows the client to talk about a broad range of things in a safe environment in which the taboos of ordinary social discourse are greatly diminished. Ideally, therapy should be a stigma-free experience.

What can I expect from counseling?

Just like the reasons for therapy are different for everyone, most people can expect different experiences. The good news is that therapy is completely individually-focused, which is why everyone can get something different out of it. Generally, your life, your history, and any relevant insights will be important to the specific discussions, but in a very personal and individualized manner. Sometimes counseling can be focused on a specific need, in which case it’s a ‘short term’ solution, while in other cases, many people go to therapy regularly, each week, to simply look for more personal growth.

Again, therapy isn’t meant to be some kind of ‘quick fix’ where you simply sit back and listen. It is a participatory experience. The more you involve yourself in the process, the better results you’re bound to see. It’s a practice in everyday living, in which you take what you learn from the session, and apply it to your life. Therefore, it’s important to be mentally prepared to make those changes in your life, and desire new perspectives on things.

When you meet with Sue, you will work together to discern your needs and comfort with exploring your concerns on a deeper level.

How should one decide between medication or psychotherapy?

While medication has been proven to help with many different disorders, it has also been shown that that the most effective approach to treating mental health problems is a combination of medication and psychotherapy. Medication alone may treat the symptoms of a problem, without getting to the root of solving it, which is where therapy comes in. The decision of whether to take psychiatric medications is a highly personal one, and your preferences will be honored. If in the course of treatment if you decide you might benefit from medications, I will refer you to an appropriate provider.

Do the topics in each therapy session remain private?

There is practically nothing more important in therapy than confidentiality. As with any doctor/patient agreement, your privacy is of the utmost importance. A good therapist understands the vulnerability and openness that must come from each client, so therapy itself can take a lot of trust, and that needs to be developed over time. I require a confidentiality agreement before we begin sessions. It is your choice if you’d like me to share anything significant with your other healthcare providers, but this can only be done with your written consent. Nothing you share in your sessions is to be told to anyone else, with the rare exceptions of suspected abuse of any kind or if the counselor has any reason to believe their client may hurt themselves, or others. These situations are a matter of ethical and legal responsibilities undertaken by licensed mental health professionals.