Junctures - Psychotherapy and Assessment Services
About Therapy
The word "psychotherapy" is usually used to differentiate this endeavor from other kinds of therapy - occupational, massage, physical therapy, etc. It is different than psychoanalysis which is a specific approach or sub-discipline within the larger umbrella of psychotherapy. Some people differentiate counseling and psychotherapy, with the term 'counseling' suggesting a shorter term, advice or directive approach as opposed to the more exploratory approach implied by the term 'psychotherapy.' However, many would not make this distinction and would also say that psychotherapy can be brief and advice or solution driven. 

A psychotherapist is someone who has been educated and trained to offer psychotherapy or counseling and who has been licensed by the state to do so. A license is important because it guarantees that someone has had this training and was able to pass a test or series of tests and interviews conducted by representatives from their various professional organizations. It also provides some protection to consumers by making individual providers accountable to the ethics and standards of their professional organizations. A psychotherapist is usually licensed as a marriage and family counselor (LMFT), a mental health professional (LMHP) or as a psychologist. 

In the state of Washington, a licensed psychologist must be educated to the doctoral level by a regionally accredited institution. An exception is that school psychologists may practice at a master's degree level of education. A licensed psychologist typically has a Ph.D., a Psy.D., or an Ed.D. A Ph.D. program focuses on both research and practice and often prepares the student for an academic, research or psychotherapy career. A Psy.D. is also focused on research and practice, but emphasizes clinical work over preparation for an academic or research career. Doctoral programs in counseling education prepare a person for clinical work in educational settings. This degree also has a research component. 

How to find a psychotherapist - No one thing such as educational level, type of degree, philosophy or approach, age or gender of the psychotherapist will determine how well any particular person does in therapy. Besides pragmatic concerns such as location, insurance coverage, availability, etc. the person searching for a psychotherapist should focus on how they respond to information about the therapist they are considering. Research has shown that regardless of the therapist's approach (cognitive behavioral,depth, solution oriented, etc.), the best predictor of outcome is the relationship that is built between the therapist and client. Thus, the client's level of comfort with the therapist will largely determine what becomes possible in therapy. Having had a first or second meeting with a therapist, both the therapist and the client should assess whether or not they think that they have a good match, meaning how well they think they can work together. Most therapists would be happy to help a client find a therapist better suited to the client if either party feels it would be difficult to work together. 

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