At Creative Family Counseling, we receive a lot of inquiries for support across a wide spectrum. Since our specialty is working with children, teens, and families, many parents call us to seek out counseling and other services for their young child or teenager. At both the initial phone call and during appointments with our clinical team members, many clients pose questions about the services we offer and don’t offer, largely because there is confusion about the different kind of mental health providers: psychotherapist, psychologist, and psychiatrists. And we get it! All those different (yet similar sounding) providers of mental health care can be hard to keep straight. Let me provide some clarity for you!
Creative Family Counseling is a group counseling practice composed of psychotherapists, AKA therapists, AKA counselors. A psychotherapist provides psychotherapy (counseling) for individuals, couples, and families who seek out our services. We do not prescribe medication, and while we have the training to provide some mental health diagnoses, it is limited to our masters-level training and education. Our priority is to set therapeutic goals with clients (what do you want to be different or better in your life?) and help clients reach those goals with various types of counseling we offer. Traditional counseling includes theories which heavily lean on talking with clients. Our practice also provides many types of expressive therapies, such as Art Therapy, Animal-Assisted Therapy, and Play Therapy, which allows clients to express their needs, process concerns, and develop new skills in an experiential way, in addition to talking. We also offer evidence based therapies for specific challenges such as AutPlay for Autism Spectrum Disorders and neurodiversity challenges, and EMDR (Eye Movement and Desensitization Reprocessing) for challenges related to a trauma history.
Not to get too more complicated, but psychotherapists in the state of Kentucky typically fall under one of the following licenses: a marriage and family therapist, a social worker, a clinical counselor, or an art therapist. All of these providers have completed a masters program in counseling, are considered psychotherapists, and are legally permitted to provide counseling in Kentucky.
Our practice does not include a prescriber at this time, which would be someone who prescribes medication to treat mental health diagnoses. These professionals are called Psychiatrists or Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioners (PMH-NP). Psychiatrists assess the symptoms of a mental health disorder and prescribe medication to treat those symptoms. Research shows that for most mental health diagnoses, a combination of medication AND therapy is most effective in resolving challenges associated with that diagnosis. Our Therapists may refer a client to a psychiatrist or PMH-NP if they are assessing and noticing that the challenges their clients are experiencing are causing significant distress for them, especially if symptoms are present in more than one environment (for example, at home and at school). Many therapists at our practice are conservative with referrals for medications, especially in child clients. Often times, therapists will attempt to intervene with counseling alone to see if that level of support resolves issues they are experiencing. Some exceptions would be if a client is experiencing a severe level of depression or other psychiatric disorder which may include dangerous symptoms such as self harm, psychosis, or homicidal or suicidal thoughts. In those cases, a direct referral for medication intervention would take place.
Lastly, our practice refers clients and families to a Psychologist when we feel psychological testing would help provide some clarity on the causation of symptoms or when it would qualify a client for specific services. An example would be if we suspected a client was experiencing symptoms due to having a learning difference, may have ADHD, or because they are on the Autism Spectrum. A psychologist is a doctorate level provider who provides extensive and thorough testing to determine the root cause of the symptoms. Their reports also include recommendations for treatment. These reports are helpful for the treating psychotherapist, such as our providers, but also for the parents and the school professionals. Oftentimes, an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) can be written at the school, based on the recommendations of a psychological testing report.
All of these mental health providers can get confusing, so I hope this article is helpful in allowing you to find the person and services for whom you are seeking. If we can provide you or your family member support through counseling, please give us a call or send us an email on our Contact Page today! It would be an honor to work with you!