When you decide you’re ready to engage in therapy or counseling, it can be so confusing - In Alpharetta, Cumming, Johns Creek, Norcross, and greater Atlanta there are therapists, social workers, counselors, psychotherapists, marriage and family therapists, psychiatrists and psychologists.
What do all the letters mean (PsyD, MD, LMSW, LCSW, LPC, LMFT)?
Psychiatrists are medical doctors (MD) who evaluate, diagnose and treat mental illness and can prescribe psychiatric medications. There are some that also provide talk therapy, but because appointments are typically spaced out in weeks or months, it’s a good idea to have a therapist or counselor as well.
Psychologists (PsyD), Licensed Social Workers (LMSW/LCSW), Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC), and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) can all evaluate and treat mental illness, provide talk therapy, support and feedback, and teach coping strategies such as mindfulness. Therapy/therapist, counseling/counselor, and psychotherapy/psychotherapist are general terms used by licensed professionals that may indicate their style or approach.
The biggest difference comes in the approach.
Therapy may be short or long term, focused on a remedying a particular issue or concern such as anxiety, grief or family challenges, involve past history and relationships with your family or friends, identify patterns of thinking, and/or take into account your environment, relationships, and circumstances.
Generally speaking, many people use counseling/counselor and therapy/therapist interchangeably so it’s important to ask any prospective clinician about his/her practice and approach to determine if it is a good fit.
How do I find someone in Alpharetta, Johns Creek, or Norcross?
It’s a little like dating!
- Think about the demographics – would you be more comfortable talking to a man or a woman, someone older, younger, or about the same age as you are? Is it important to have some who shares the same race or ethnicity? Do you want someone who practices from a certain religious perspective?
- Check with family, friends, and trusted providers in the Alpharetta area to see if there is anyone they recommend.
- Use Psychology Today, Good Therapy, and Google to search your area and identify possible therapists and counselors who fit your criteria.
- Check out clinicians’ websites, pictures, professional Facebook pages, etc. Do they look friendly, like someone you can talk to? Do you connect with their website or posts?
- Many therapists and counselors offer free brief consultations – take advantage of this. If you have a phone conversation, how does it feel? Did the person listen and help you to feel at ease?
It’s normal to feel a little anxious and uneasy about calling a therapist for the first time.
Keep in mind, the therapist or counselor wants you to find the help you need whether it is with them or not. They may ask you some questions such as: what prompted you to call or how long have you had panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or feelings of being overwhelmed.
If it feels like a good fit on the phone, schedule a session. If you don’t feel a connection, let the therapist know. He/she can help you find someone to meet your needs.
If you're wondering if you need a therapist or counselor in Alpharetta, Johns Creek, or Norcross check out this blog. In my next blog I’ll share some questions to ask a potential counselor or therapist in the Alpharetta area.
If you’re interested in learning more about whether I might be a good fit for you, please contact me at 678-827-2111 for a free 15 minute phone consultation.