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  • What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
    Both psychologists and psychiatrists work to improve the mental and emotional health of their patients. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who can prescribe psychotropic medications and assist with medication management whereas psychologists cannot. In some cases, psychiatrists can provide psychotherapy; however, psychologists are more likely to do therapy. Psychologists have a doctoral degree (i.e., Ph.D. or Psy.D) and are trained in psychological research, assessment, and psychotherapy but they do not prescribe medication.
  • What is the difference between a psychologist and a counselor or a social worker?
    You learned what a psychologist does above. Professional counselors (LPCs) and clinical social workers (LCSWs) can also provide psychotherapy services. Their training is not as extensive as that of a psychologist; however, to obtain licensure in Virginia, they must be trained at the master’s level and have at least two years of clinical counseling experience.
  • What do I tell my child about therapy?
    Explain to them on an age-appropriate level the essence of therapy: You get to talk with someone about your problems and challenges. You get to learn some new skills to help with those challenges. Therapy is a safe, judgment-free space. Your therapist doesn’t tell everything you say to your parents (except in the case of mandated reporting). A therapist is a professional in mental health and emotions, much like your doctor is an expert in helping keep your body healthy.
  • How often will my appointments be?
    This varies depending on the presenting concerns and their severity. Typically, appointments are at least once a week for less than an hour. The frequency can be increased or decreased depending on your needs.
  • What are the benefits of doing self-pay for therapy?
    When using insurance, therapists must report a formal diagnosis. With self-pay, your therapist does not have to give a formal diagnosis, which is beneficial if you are concerned about your privacy as health insurance companies keep records. Not having a diagnosis also allows you to focus on growth and self-actualization without being pathologized. There’s no insurance company limiting how many sessions you can have. You are not limited in your choice of providers.
  • What happens if I do not feel connected to my therapist?
    Finding the right therapist can sometimes feel like shopping for a new car. Sometimes you love the first one you try and sometimes you have to test out a few before finding the right fit. You always have the freedom to choose your provider and if your therapist isn’t a good fit, you can leave without hard feelings. Your therapist will understand and will help refer you to other providers in your area.
  • What if I am skeptical about therapy?
    That’s ok! A lot of people are skeptical about therapy at first. Go into therapy with an open mind and a clear understanding of what you’d like to see change in your life. Your therapist will help you to develop a plan to move forward and to have a better quality of life.
  • Will other people know I’m in therapy?
    Your therapist is bound by a code of ethics that prohibits them from disclosing your information to anyone you don’t give them permission to do so. Due to mandated reporting, there are some limits to confidentiality in the case of suspected abuse or danger of serious harm to self or others but otherwise, no one will know you’re in therapy unless you tell them!
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