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What is counseling?

Counseling is the application of mental health, psychotherapeutic, and human development principles to facilitate human development and adjustment throughout the life span; prevent, assess, evaluate, and treat mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders and associated distresses that interfere with mental health; conduct assessments and evaluations to establish treatment goals and objectives; and plan, implement, and evaluate treatment plans using counseling treatment interventions.

What is the difference between a counselor, therapist, psychotherapist, social worker, psychologist, and a psychiatrist?

There are a variety of types of licenses (see license specifics below).   To provide both mental health and substance abuse counseling, a counselor is required to have at minimum a Master’s Degree in psychology or social work or similar field.  These are often also called a therapist or psychotherapist.  A Psychologist has a doctorates degree.  A Psychiatrist is a Medical Doctor who specializes in psychiatric disorders and can prescribe medications.  Most people seeing a psychiatrist or their nurse practitioner also see a counselor/therapist.  

What do the different licenses mean?

LBSW-IPR: Licensed Baccalaureate Social Worker with the ability to perform social work independently.  Not licensed to do psychotherapy.

LMSW: Licensed Master Social Worker.  Has a Master’s degree in social work.  They cannot work independently in an outpatient setting unless working on a supervision plan to become an LCSW or LMSW-IBR. 

LMSW-IBR: Licensed Master Social Worker with the ability to perform social work independently.  Not licensed to do psychotherapy on an outpatient setting.

LCSW: Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Has a Master’s degree in social work.  They have also had advanced training to provide counseling services independently.

LCSW-S: Licensed Clinical Social Worker Supervisor.  Has advanced training to supervise an LBSW or LMSW working towards independent practice certification (IPR) or an LMSW working on their LCSW. 

LPC: Licensed Professional Counselor.  Has a Master’s degree in counseling/psychology or related field.  A person holding a regular license as a professional counselor with authority to practice in independent practice.

LPC-S: Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor.  This counselor is fully licensed as an LPC and can practice independently, but has additional training and licensure to supervise an LPC holding a temporary license (LPC-Intern).

LPC Intern: Licensed Professional Counselor Intern.  Has completed a Master’s degree in counseling or related field and holds a temporary license to practice counseling.  They have to meet weekly with their supervisor and discuss cases.  They must complete 3000 hours of counseling experience before they can be fully licensed as an LPC and practice independently. 

PhD or PsyD: Licensed Psychologist.  Has a doctorate’s degree, generally in psychology (variations do occur)

LMFT: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.  Has a Master’s degree in marriage and family therapy. 

RD: Registered Dietitian.  Registered by the State of Texas to provide nutritional assessment and counseling. 

PMHNP: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.  Has a Master’s degree in Nursing with specialized training in mental health.  They can prescribe psychiatric medications.  They are under the supervision of a Physician licensed in Texas.

The above is a general description.  License abbreviations/names/training may vary slightly

Can I or my children or significant other/spouse see another counselor at the same time? 

Your children or significant other/spouse may receive counseling by someone else.  If you are going to do family therapy or couples counseling, you need to let us know so we can communicate with the other professional.  Both professionals cannot do the same therapy for the same issues.  You may not see another counselor unless you are working on different issues.  If you are seeing someone else and will continue to see them, you must inform us prior to starting sessions with us.  We will have to determine if we are able to see you or not and you will need to complete a release so we can communicate with them. 

Why should I attend counseling? 

If you are struggling with issues or have a serious mental health diagnosis, it is often recommended to seek a professional’s help.  Oftentimes, we need an outside non-objective opinion to help us get insight into what is occurring.  Seeing a therapist allows you to have a judge-free zone and safe place to work out issues.

What should you expect your first visit?

The goal of the initial visit will be to discuss the reason for coming, complete an interview, and establish a treatment plan.  This is very important to allow us to develop goals for treatment, discuss expectations, and decide how often you should attend.


How often will I attend counseling?

Most people attend counseling sessions, weekly or bi-weekly.  Initially you will attend more often.  Once you are seeing progression in your treatment, your sessions will be reduced.  You and your therapist will determine how often you come.  Ultimately, we want to work with you and with your schedule.  Also, if you are utilizing insurance, your insurance company will often have a certain amount of sessions that they will authorize. 

If I do not see results in counseling, may I stop coming and get my money back? 

There is no guarantee in counseling.  We do not promise results or promise to “make you or others change”.  We are here to guide you as professionals trained in the field and help you with self-discovery, healing, and apply varying techniques.   Also we cannot force anyone to make changes.  Coming to counseling must be voluntary and you must be open and willing to make changes in different areas of your life.  Ultimately, if you are not satisfied with your treatment, speak to your therapist about your expectations and you may discontinue services at any time. 

Can I change counselors if I am not happy?

Yes.  If you are dissatisfied or do not feel like your counselor is a good fit, speak to your counselor and request either a different opinion or your concerns.

When should I stop attending counseling?

You and your therapist should end services when either party feels it is no longer needed or not effective.  Your therapist may also refer you to someone else if they feel they are out of their scope or are not comfortable/making progress.  

What is relaxation?

Relaxation are techniques that can help you manage your stress. 

What is psychological assessment?

Testing or assessment falls into several categories

  • Achievement and aptitude
  • Intelligence tests
  • Neuropsychological tests
  • Occupational tests
  • Personality tests
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Coastal Synergy Associates

9708 SPID Ste A-104

Corpus Christi, TX  78418-5166

Ph: 1-361-852-0988

Fax: 1-361-687-2563

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