Things to consider when choosing a therapist

Things to consider when choosing a therapist

It is most affordable to find a therapist or treatment provider that is covered by your insurance plan. It can be helpful to first check with your insurance and request their list of "covered" providers. Often, you might find an individual who better fits your needs that is considered "out of network". There are also therapists that do not take insurance but will provide you with a "super-bill" that you can submit to your insurance.

It is recommended to really make sure that the therapist you use specializes in the needs of your child and family. It is not one size fits all. Ask around for referrals and take the time to do a consultation with a few therapists to find the right fit.

Consider the following…

  • Location?
  • Availability?
  • Cost?
  • Do they accept insurance?
  • Is your therapist licensed? If you are seeing an intern, do they have a supervisor they meet with on a regular basis?
  • What’s the therapist’s philosophy and approach to counseling?
  • Do you feel safe and comfortable?
  • Is it easy to make conversation?
  • Is the therapist easy to relate to or does they feel emotionally removed?
  • Can the therapist define how they can help you to solve your issue and give you a clear overview of the process and time frame?
  • Can your therapist accept feedback and admit when they make a mistake?
  • Does the therapist encourage independence by helping you to identify and find your own solutions?
  • Does the therapist have experience and training for the specific issue you are addressing?
  • Does the therapist provide homework or reading between sessions?
  • Will the therapist see more than 1 family member?
  • Will the therapist coordinate with other treatment providers if necessary?
  • Is the therapist available between sessions if there is an urgent issue?

Differences between a therapist, coach, or counselor

These roles can get confusing… therapy, occupational therapy, counseling, and coaching.


  • The process of meeting with a therapist to resolve problematic behaviors, beliefs, feelings, relationship issues. Therapeutic services offer the client support and skills to deal with psychological pain, to gain insight into their behaviors, while learning new strategies to cope with depression, anxiety, hyperactivity and unwanted behaviors.
  • Typically therapy deals with healing pain, dysfunction and conflict within an individual or in relationships [ie: parenting, marriage]. The focus is on resolving issues arising from the past that are affecting an individual’s emotional functioning and learning to manage the present in a healthier way.

Occupational therapy

  • OT is a form of therapy for those recuperating from physical or mental illness that encourages rehabilitation through the performance of activities required in daily life.

Counseling & coaching

  • Coaches meet with clients to discuss needs and goals. They help clients work on future goals including careers, jobs, schools, academic remediation, strategies for wrap-around programming, etc.
  • Life coach: Professional coaching focuses on setting goals, creating outcomes and managing personal change. Coaching is future focused and supports growth based on self-initiated change utilizing action, accountability, and follow-through.
  • Family coach: This is often an intensive service that focuses on reducing unmanageable behaviors that are currently impacting the teen’s functioning at home or school. The coach helps the teen learn new ways of reducing and managing behaviors and increase positive behaviors and coping skills. Parents are taught how to effectively manage the behaviors and support their teen. Meetings typically take place in the home so the coach can see the teen in their natural environment where the challenging behaviors usually occur. Coaches provide modeling, structure, support and behavioral interventions based on the teen and family’s abilities, interests, and strengths. This can be a great transition tool when teens who have been in a residential program are transitioning back home.

Understanding the different licenses

  • LMFT, MFCC, LMFC ~ Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
    The practice of marriage and family therapy is service performed with individuals, couples, or groups wherein interpersonal relationships are examined for the purpose of achieving more adequate, satisfying, and productive marriage and family adjustments.
  • LCSW ~ Licensed Clinical Social Worker
    Defined as a service in which a special knowledge of social resources, human capabilities, and the part that unconscious motivation plays in determining behavior, is directed at helping people to achieve more adequate, satisfying, and productive social adjustments.
  • LPCC ~ Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor
    Professional clinical counseling means the application of counseling interventions and psychotherapeutic techniques to identify and remediate cognitive, mental, and emotional issues, including personal growth, adjustment to disability, crisis intervention, and psychosocial and environmental problems, and the use, application, and integration of the coursework and training. Includes conducting assessments for the purpose of establishing counseling goals and objectives to empower individuals to deal adequately with life situations, reduce stress, experience growth, change behavior, and make well-informed, rational decisions.
  • LEP ~ Licensed Educational Psychologist
    Performance of any of the following functions pertaining to academic learning processes or the education system: (a) Educational evaluation. (b) Diagnosis of psychological disorders related to academic learning processes. (c) Administration of diagnostic tests related to academic learning processes including tests of academic ability, learning patterns, achievement, motivation, and personality factors. (d) Interpretation of diagnostic tests related to academic learning processes including tests of academic ability, learning patterns, achievement, motivation, and personality factors. (e) Providing psychological counseling for individuals, groups, and families. (f) Consultation with other educators and parents on issues of social development and behavioral and academic difficulties. (g) Conducting psychoeducational assessments for the purposes of identifying special needs. (h) Developing treatment programs and strategies to address problems of adjustment. (i) Coordinating intervention strategies for management of individual crises.
  • MFTI, MFCI ~ Interns
    Individuals who have a Master’s degree and are fulfilling the requirements for licensure as a Marriage, Family, and Child Counselor. They see clients or work in a clinical setting, with their clinical work being supervised by a senior, licensed therapist.
  • Marriage & Family Therapist ~ Associate Counselor
    An associate is a pre-licensure candidate with a graduate degree in a mental health field. The associate is gaining the experience necessary to become a licensed independent clinical social worker, licensed advanced social worker, licensed mental health counselor or licensed marriage and family therapist.
  • Ph.D, Psy.D ~ Psychologist
    Psychologists are doctoral level clinicians. The one specialty psychologists have primarily is in administering psychological tests.
  • Psychiatrist ~ MD, DO
    A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has specialized in mental health and must evaluate patients to determine whether their symptoms are the result of a physical illness, a combination of physical and mental, or a strictly psychiatric one.  Most psychiatrists have less training in talk therapy.

Life Coach certifications

At this time there is no state or federal regulation of the coaching industry. Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE), as an affiliate of the National Board for Certified Counselors offers the BCC Certification. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) is dedicated setting high standards and providing independent Life Coach Certification.

  • C.L.C. ~ Certified Life Coach
  • C. S. C. ~ Certified Spiritual Coach
  • A.C.C. ~ Associate Certified Coach
  • M.C.C. ~ Master Certified Coach
  • P.C.C. ~ Professional Certified Coach
  • A.C.T.P. ~ Accredited Coach Training Program
  • B.C.C. ~ Board Certified Coach, National Board for Certified Counselors

Occupational therapists

  • NBCOT Certification