Lara Yates, LCSW
Lara is a therapist who sees clients at Elevate Counseling Group in Rockwall, TX. Lara works with teens, adults and couples.
After 15 years in the field of mental health, I have come to learn there is a huge learning curve for families that comes when seeking the RIGHT provider for you. Most Americans can tell me the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist; a cardiologist and a primary care doctor; a surgeon and a nurse. So why is there so much naiveté when it comes to the world of mental health and all the different providers? I think it comes with the massive stigma attached to seeking out treatment (more on that later in another blog post) and the lack of education in schools and our homes. If it’s not “cool” or accepted to talk about it, a lot don’t know about it.
A common complaint I hear is “I went to see a psychiatrist and they didn’t listen” or “I saw a therapist but she never put me on medication.”
The goal of this post is to educate and break this down for you, so you can choose the right provider or path for you, according to what you are looking for.
*Disclaimer- I am NOT saying one provider or license is better than any other. We all serve different purposes and have been trained to focus on different things. We are all parts of one large community that would be worse off if we didn’t have the variety we did.* This is not one size fits all. It is YOUR responsibility to do your research to find who is right for you.
With that being said, let’s begin.
PSYCHIATRIST- A psychiatrist is a medical doctor. An M.D. They went to school to learn about your brain, its chemistry and medication. Their sole job is to listen to your symptoms, diagnose, and PERSCRIBE MEDICATION. So often I hear complaints about psychiatrist, “they didn’t talk to me, and they didn’t listen.” With good intentions I think the public will often set them up for failure, expecting something out of them they are not trained to do. Their job is not to provide therapy. They are the doctor of the brain, medication management is their goal. These doctors aid in the overall health when medication management can be PARTNERED with talk therapy.
PSYCHOLOGIST- A psychologist is also a doctor but holds a PhD. They tend to focus more on
administering assessments (i.e. IQ test, ADHD assessments, psychological evaluations, and more). While they can perform therapy, most entered into a PhD program for research purposes. You CAN diagnose and provide therapy with a Master’s degree; the main purpose for moving forward with a PhD is research.
THERAPIST (LPC & LCSW)- I am grouping these two license holders together for the sake of the length of this blog. The two (Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Clinical Social Worker) are different in a lot of ways when it comes to our boards, our training, and backgrounds. BUT we are similar enough to group together for the time being. Both diagnose and provide therapy. A social worker CAN become a therapist after going further in education, licensing, and obtaining thousands of hours in training. I personally hold an LCSW. I get a lot of shock when people learn my background and roots are in social
work. There is a lot of stigma in that itself and people assume I just work for CPS or “take kids out of homes” (again, another blog post later on LPC vs LCSW tracks). Therapists are trained in dozens and dozens of different theories, therapy modalities, and can work with children, adults, families, and couples. Both are trained in the life span (birth to death) and all diagnoses found in the DSM-V (our bible for diagnosing and mental health disorders). Therapist CAN NOT prescribe medication. We are the talk therapy portion of your care. If we begin working with you and feel you would benefit from being on medication, we will often write a letter to either your psychiatrist or primary care doctor, often citing you are under our care and what symptoms we are noticing. We may encourage you to get an evaluation to see if medication would work best in you, while continuing to see us as therapist. Think of
it as a treatment team of support around you. What therapist do not do, is give our opinion. My clients will often ask “well, what do you think? Tell me what to do.” That is not our job. You can get that for free from a friend having coffee. Our job is to partner with you in finding the best version of yourself you can be, through different treatment modalities and therapies that fit best for whatever you are walking through. Opinions do not heal trauma. Therapy does. I bring this up because while we are talking about titles, often lines can get blurred of clients wanting their therapist to be their friend. It’s understandable. It can be very intimate sharing pain, your story and your healing with someone.
LPC-A- I thought this credential was worth mentioning. If you notice your therapist has a letter “A” after their license, this means they are working on becoming fully licensed (LPC, the ‘A’ will drop off) after obtaining 3,000 hours, under the supervision of a LPC-Supervisor. So, if you are looking for a more seasoned therapist, this is important to know.
While there are still many more credentials I did not cover, my goal was to hit on the most common feedback I hear in my practice. I truly hope this was helpful. There can be frustration when time and money are lost and if you feel you have spent energy towards the possible wrong provider; depending on what your goals are. This can often make people want to quit. Please keep going. Finding the right therapist/doctor for you can be like dating; not everyone is a good match. Advocate for yourself and ask questions. You will not offend your mental health provider.
Lara Yates, LCSW is a therapist who sees clients at Elevate Counseling Group in Rockwall, Texas.