Most psychotherapy in the U.S. is done by LCSWs (Licensed Clinical Social Workers) and Clinical Psychologists. Training is similar, although LCSWs learn more about the person in the context of family & society and community resources; and psychologists learn how to administer psychological tests. I refer to both disciplines equally, depending on clinical skill and character.

Psychiatrists generally dispense medication, a very few are also trained as psychotherapists.

APNs (Advanced Practice Nurses), also called NPs (Nurse Practitioners) are also licensed to prescribe medication and sometimes trained to do therapy.

www.psychologytoday.com is an excellent resource to find a therapist. Insurance companies are also required to offer lists of in-network providers. If a member cannot find one who is available, the company must do so for the member.

Most potential therapists offer a free phone consultations. The purpose of this consult is for both therapist and client to ascertain whether this would be a good fit. Some questions to ask:

  • What is your area of expertise?
  • What is your training?
  • My goals in therapy would be____________________ How would you help me achieve these goals?
  • How do you explain psychotherapy to someone who doesn’t understand it?
  • Do you feel the therapy relationship should be collaborative? If so, how do you enable that?
  • Do you work with families?
  • What is your understanding of trauma?
  • What is your fee? Do you have a sliding scale? If so, how is the scale determined?
  • Do you have a cancellation fee?
  • Do you respond to calls, emails, or texts between sessions? Under what circumstances?

Psychotherapy is a professional relationship, as in it is a relationship. It is important to trust your gut when interviewing a prospective therapist. A therapist should be knowledgeable, trustworthy, compassionate, nonjudgmental, and able to respond to criticism without becoming defensive.

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