Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC)
What is that? What do all the letters MEAN? What can a counselor help with? How do I pick a counselor? How much does it cost? "I went once when I was kid- it was awful!”
When you search the internet for "counselor in Bozeman, MT" I'm willing to bet you are inundated with returned results. Everyone specializes in something and each offers their own flavor of counseling. So where to start?? First- you need to know "who" you are looking for. Many folks start by contacting their insurance companies for a list of in-network providers. Not only can this step help narrow the search, but it guarantees a lower cost for you, the client. Not all providers can accept Medicare. Some providers choose not to accept Medicaid or insurance at all! An advantage to using a therapist in your insurance provider’s network is that they have been vetted through the insurance company’s credentialing process.
Something else to keep in mind is that the letters behind a counselor’s name are an indicator of what kind and level of education they received as well as what level of care they can potentially provide. Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors (LCPCs) and Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs) have master’s degrees in psychology, mental health and/or social work.
Counselors work jointly with clients to identify goals and solutions to problems identified by the client. Counselors may help clients work on improving how they communicate, cope with life stressors, or fulfill court-mandated therapy requirements on individual, couples, family, or group levels. Most importantly- they are licensed by the state they reside in to perform services in that state only.
Social Workers can also perform counseling services, but also work with clients to find and access resources to improve a client’s life – think “systems” like hospitals for example. Sometimes hospitals encourage patients to utilize a discharge counselor (usually a social worker) to help set up wrap-around services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, in-home care, state benefits, etc. They, too, are licensed by the state they reside in.
So, what’s the difference? LCPC’s spend their entire master’s program focused on counseling and counseling theories to build their framework while counseling and counseling theory are just one component of a social worker’s education.
Now that we know the difference between a Professional Counselor and a Clinical Social Worker, how will you know who is a good fit for you? My advice? Internet stalk them. Ask friends and family members. Ask in Facebook groups or for a direct referral from your primary care physician. If you are local to the Gallatin Valley- you can call The Help Center for a referral. They keep a database of area clinicians and can narrow potential therapists by the type of insurance you have (or maybe you don’t!), primary presenting issue (anxiety, depression, divorce, etc.), and even if you prefer a specific modality of therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Somatic Experiencing, etc.). Finally, many providers are listed in the Psychology Today database.
The good news is there is someone out there for you. The not-so-good news is you may not find “the one” the first time you meet with a counselor. Make calls and chat with potential therapists before scheduling an initial meeting.
The cost of counseling can be prohibitive for those who really need it but lack the funds or insurance coverage. There are many counselors who practice pro-bono or have a sliding-fee scale. There are agencies that can apply for special funding to cover services needed and there are always interns that are highly supervised by a licensed professional but are not licensed themselves. These individuals need practice hours to get their licenses and have been known to be very accommodating with their schedule for clients.
In the Gallatin Valley the average 50-60minute therapy session is billed at $140. Again, my advice? Ask lots of questions when you communicate with a potential provider.
OKAY- so you have an idea of “who” you are looking for, how to go about finding a provider, and a ballpark idea of cost. BUT you had a terrible experience in your past, and you haven’t been back. Before I go on- I am truly sorry that happened. When you are a child and forced into going by your parents, that can be tough. I only hope their motivation was out of love for you, their child. If you were an adult and had a bad experience- again I am sorry. Can I challenge your fear of counselors for a minute? When you were forced into therapy- someone other than yourself (parents, teachers, coaches) decided there was “something wrong” with you. Today you are an adult (well, you are if you are seeing me in my practice) and YOU get to decide what is and isn’t a problem. You are no longer the “identified patient” and have the guarantee of confidentiality (except in mandatory reporting situations) that a minor is not entitled to. If something isn’t working, tell the therapist so they can address your concern and adjust their behavior. We don’t know what we don’t know!
Secondly, don’t give up! Not everyone is for you. Sometimes you need to try a few therapists out before you find a good fit. Simple, not easy. It can be costly in money, time, and emotional well-being. Retelling your story can be exhausting. So. Exhausting. And you started the search for a reason…right? The benefit to persevering?? Ideally - finding a provider who is a good fit and “sees” you! Did you know the most significant indicator of a client improving is the therapeutic relationship? It’s so important to find the clinician you click with and trust.
So why THIS blog post? My intention was to clear up any questions that you may have had about the “LCPC” behind my name…Four fancy letters that I paid a LOT money for (ha ha) and let people know that I am a licensed counselor. They don’t make me an expert in you. YOU are the expert in you. Those letters simply reflect an education that prepared me to walk with you on your journey in a structured manner.
LCPC is just one component of who I am as a helper. I am also a licensed addiction counselor, am working on certification as a life coach, and will be starting a program for certification in food addiction this fall. Again- LETTERS! If you choose to work with me- let it be for our connection, for your intuition that we are a good fit. Let it be because I showed you who I really am.
I can be found on the web (mpainschab.com), Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and in the future- Youtube!
Feel free to call/text (406-219-7351), or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions- I am always happy to help!