I want to see a therapist, but where do I start?!

I want to see a therapist, but where do I start?!

Finding the right therapist can sometimes be a very overwhelming task. Not only are there hundreds of therapists in the Houston area, but each therapist has a different title, different license, and different areas of specialty. What does it all mean? The first place to start when selecting the right therapist is to understand therapists’ qualifications and specialty areas. The following is a description of therapists’ licenses, their qualifications, and the clients they are most likely to work with.

LPC- Licensed Professional Counselor

Education Requirements: Master’s degree or higher

Level of experience required: 3,000 hours of supervised experience

Services offered might include:

  • Individual Counseling
  • Group Counseling
  • Marriage Counseling
  • Family Counseling
  • Chemical dependency counseling
  • Rehabilitation counseling
  • Education counseling
  • Career development counseling
  • Sexual issues counseling
  • Psychotherapy
  • Play therapy
  • Diagnostic assessment

LMFT- Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Education Requirements: Master’s degree or higher

Level of experience required: 3,000 hours of supervised experience

Services offered might include:

  • Marriage therapy
  • Sex therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Child therapy
  • Play therapy
  • Individual therapy
  • Divorce therapy
  • Mediation
  • Group therapy
  • Chemical dependency therapy
  • Rehabilitation therapy
  • Diagnostic assessment

LCSW- Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Education Requirements: Master’s Degree or higher

Level of experience required: 2 years of supervised experience

Services offered might include:

  • Interviewing
  • Assessment
  • Planning
  • Intervention
  • Evaluation
  • Case management
  • Mediation
  • Counseling
  • Supportive counseling
  • Direct practice
  • Information and referral
  • Problem solving
  • Consultation
  • Education
  • Advocacy

Licensed Psychologist

Education Requirements: Doctorate - Ph.D.

Level of experience required: 2 years supervised experience at 35 hours/week, 3 licensing examinations

Services offered might include:

  • Individual therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy
  • Interpersonal therapy
  • Humanistic therapy
  • Family therapy
  • Marriage therapy
  • Anxiety/Depression therapy
  • Psychodynamic therapy
  • Research
  • Diagnostic testing

Psychiatrist

Education Requirements: Doctor of Medicine- M.D.

Level of experience required: completion of medical internship, 4 years of residency, state licensure, and board certification

Services offered might include:

  • Diagnostic testing/evaluation
  • Prescription of psychiatric medication
  • Psychotherapy
  • Psychoanalysis

Interns and Associates- (LPC-Intern, LMFT-A, LCSW-Intern)

Education Requirements: Master’s Degree or higher

Level of experience required: Varies (most are working towards 2 years or 3,000 hours of supervised experience)

Services offered might include: Any of the above mentioned areas within their license title. Most interns have counseling training and experience within their Master’s degree program, as well as their experience acquired during internship. Interns meet with their supervisor, a licensed clinician within their field, every week, or every other week, to discuss their cases and receive guidance.

Practicum Students

Education requirements: Currently enrolled in Master’s program

Level of experience required: Varies (most working to complete 150-500 hours of supervised experience)

Services offered might include: Any of the above mentioned areas within their pursued license title.

Information provided by: http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/counselor/

Written by Kristin O'Connor, M.S., LMFT