Frequently Asked Questions
What is counseling?
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary counseling is defined as "professional guidance of the individual by utilizing psychological methods especially in collecting case history data, using various techniques of the personal interview, and testing interests and aptitudes." Counseling and therapy are synonyms and describe the process of talking to a qualified person about problems, stressors, or mental health symptoms. Through skills and techniques the counselor will then assist you in better understanding, managing or solving your current struggles.
What are the differences between a therapist, counselor, psychologist and psychiatrist?
The terms therapist and counselor are basically synonyms and often used interchangeably. Some of the main distinction comes from schooling differences and their role in the treatment process. Therapists and counselors either have a Bachelors degree or a Masters degree typically in social work or psychology. Whereas psychologists are in school longer: approximately 4-5 years versus 2-3 years for Masters level therapists. All three conduct therapy in similar ways and utilize similar techniques. Psychiatrists go to medical school and their primary role in treatment is to prescribe medications to assist with certain symptoms and mental illnesses. Often people will utilize a therapist to talk about problems as well as a psychiatrist to obtain medications to help with their symptoms.
What is a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP)?
Alexian Brothers Center for Mental Health's Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP) is a comprehensive, short term (1-3 week) program that provides support for adults and older adults who may be experiencing an increase in mental health symptoms. PHP is also available to individuals who are stepping down from an inpatient setting, or wishing to avoid a hospitalization, or those requiring closer monitoring due to recent medication or life changes.
How long does treatment normally take?
This is not an easy question to answer and depends heavily on many factors. Treatment can take a few months up to several years. Factors such as severity of problems or symptoms, motivation of the person, goals for treatment, and other environmental stressors all can play a role into length of treatment. Typically people and their counselor or other treatment team members (i.e. psychiatrist) discuss length of treatment at the beginning and throughout treatment.
How do I know if I need medication?
This is often discussed with the therapist during the fir st several appointments as a part of the counselor's assessment. Feel free to ask your counselor their opinion. The decision is again specific to the individual and can be based on several factors such as your personal opinions about medication, severity of symptoms, types of symptoms or diagnosis, and previous attempts at other treatments. A counselor can recommend a psychiatric evaluation with a psychiatrist to determine the need for medication.
What is the difference between a support group and a therapy group?
Therapy groups are traditionally led by clinicians (therapist, psychologists, counselors, etc) and have a defined purpose such as an anger management group to help build anger management skills or an anxiety group which is focused on teaching techniques to better manage anxiety. Support groups are often less structured and at times led by the group itself or a facilitator rather than a clinician. Their primary function is to support rather then to provide therapy or specific skills.
What are the differences between an LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) and an LCPC (Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor?
This again is a distinction based on schooling. An LCSW is a person who received a Masters degree in social work whereas a LCPC is a person who received a Master's degree in psychology. After completing a Master degree program and gaining real world work experience both groups of people must take a licensing exam from the State of Illinois that helps determine if they are qualified to practice (i.e. qualified to be a good therapist/counselor). So, LCSW stands for Licensed Clinical Social Worker and LCPC is Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. Often times, both conduct therapy in similar ways and utilize similar techniques