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Why Counseling?

Fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing. - Optimus Prime


By the time people make the call, they often feel like a failure. People fear being labeled as abnormal. They have tried hard to solve their problem, and worry that needing outside input may cause them to appear weak or stupid. Trust issues related to therapy come up. Will this go on forever? How can talking about something change reality? Will they have to do what the clinician says?


Diverse sources of investigation show that counseling can be effective for a wide variety of problems and circumstances. What seems most important from the research is that people find a practitioner who they can feel comfortable with while talking about potentially uncomfortable subjects. The second issue is that the therapist has experience with the subject matters you need. Confidentiality is another important aspect of the therapeutic relationship.

Sources ranging from Consumer Reports, the National Institute of Mental Health, the American Psychiatric Association, the Mayo clinic, and years of academic research demonstrate that counseling can be very effective for a wide range of subjects including anxiety, depression, addictions, relationships, sexuality, and many other subjects. Mental health treatment including supportive counseling has been shown to significantly reduce corporate costs by helping employees solve problems earlier and more effectively when professionals are available for confidential help. Psychology has demonstrated that positive counseling outcomes can have a benefit on health and wellbeing.


How many psychologists does it takes to plug in a lightbulb? Just one, but it really has to want to change. The old joke has an underlying serious point, that people who are reluctant or resistant to talking to a stranger may generally have emotional defenses up and not benefit very much from the process. I do not expect new people to trust in the process or a psychotherapist when they start counseling. That generally is helped as we work within a non-judgmental, kind, and informational approach. 

Photo by Lynn Mason-Kellar

Types of Professionals

Sometimes our light goes out but is blown again into flame by an encounter with another human being. – Albert Schweitzer

People often have questions about the different kinds of mental health professionals. An explanation follows, although there are often overlaps in what professionals do. Origins of each profession were different, and each maintains some separate identity. Each of the professional degree fields take ongoing continuing education to keep up with advancements.

Psychologists: cover a wide variety of areas. Psychologists are trained and have experience with most mental health needs. Some may specialize in diagnosis and evaluations, but most conduct psychotherapy.  Psychologists are usually educated at the advanced graduate level of doctoral training (Ph.D., Psy.D, or Ed.D.), including internships and scientific research, which takes at least 4-6 years of specialized education beyond a bachelor’s degree. Two additional years of supervised practice are also required. Some states allow for prescriptive authority and some states do not.

Psychiatrists: are Medical Doctors who are trained primarily on hospital wards and work in private practice. Nurse Practitioners may also work under MDs in psychiatric settings. Both primarily diagnose and prescribe meds to aid with emotional problems. A few are trained to in counseling techniques. Many psychiatrists are excellent evaluators for neurological issues as well. If you believe you need medication, these are the professionals to see.

Social workers and Licensed Counselors: typically have sub-doctoral training (master’s degrees) and specialize in defined areas of practice. They are also required to have supervision to become licensed. They often will focus on post-degree certification areas to further develop professionally.

Drug and Alcohol Counselors: are licensed, highly trained and specifically skilled professionals who work in treatment settings and are capable of helping addicts/alcoholics and family members. Some are also in private practice and their benefit cannot be underestimated.


*Life Coaches and "Peer Counselors” often have minimum training in certain basic forms of active listening or problem solving and have little supervision or supervised training. Some of the training involves only a minimum 6 weeks to 6 months, often online, and receive a certificate of completion. There is no state licensure or oversight.

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