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Frequently Asked Questions About Therapy

Frequently Asked Questions About Therapy

Ask Questions Along the Way
As an informed consumer, you should ask questions throughout your treatment about the process of therapy. You have a right to know what is happening and why. How will assist me to find professional help?

  • has over 7,500 licensed mental health professionals listed in a comprehensive searchable directory.
  • Most therapists listed on are members in good standing with the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT).

Where should I look to find a good therapist?

  • Search for a therapist near you who is licensed in California and who currently belongs to the world’s largest professional organization for MFTs, the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT).
  • Ask for a recommendation from someone who has had a good experience with a particular therapist.
  • Get a referral from your doctor, attorney, clergy, friend, etc

What cities can I find a Therapist In?

  • You can find a therapist in the South Bay, East Bay, Greater Sacramento, Orange County, Los Angeles, and San Diego areas. You can also find a therapis in nearby cities including El Centro, Bakersfield, Chico-Redding, Eureka, Fresno-Visalia, Monterey-Salinas, Palm Springs, Stockton-Modesto, Oakland, San Jose, Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-San Luis Obispo.

What is a Marriage and Family Therapist?

  • Marriage and family therapists (MFTs) are psychotherapists and healing arts practitioners licensed by the state of California.
  • MFTs assist with a wide variety of issues ranging from addictions, depression, child behavior and elder concerns.
  • The terms "marriage, family and child counselors" (MFCCs) and "marriage and family therapists" (MFTs) are used interchangeably. All states that regulate the profession use the title "marriage and family therapist. "
  • Marriage and family therapy is highly effective because of the "systemic" orientation that its therapists bring to treatment.
  • MFTs believe that an individual's emotional issues and concerns must be treated within the context of his or her current or prior relationships if the gains are to be meaningful and productive for the patient.

What are the qualifications for a California licensed marriage and family therapist?

  • Marriage and family therapists are licensed by the State of California.
  • MFTs have completed extensive education, training, clinical fieldwork, and successful completion of two rigorous exams to demonstrate professional competency.
  • Requirements for licensure include a related two-year master's or doctoral degree passage, of comprehensive examinations, and completion of at least 3,000 hours of supervised experience.

Is it OK to say I am shopping for a therapist?

  • Absolutely! Interview several.
  • Be wary about the therapist who dismisses the idea of you interviewing more than one.
  • Many therapists will expect payment for the initial interview.

What is the difference between a MFT, LCSW, Psychologist, and Psychiatrist?

  • MFT or LMFT: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a master’s degree in psychology, counseling psychology, clinical psychology, or marital and family therapy. Emphasis is on primary service in counseling and psychotherapy from a variety of therapeutic orientations with individuals, couples, families, and groups.
  • LCSW: Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a master’s degree in clinical social work. Emphasis on primary service in psychosocial diagnosis, assessment and treatment, client advocacy, consultation, evaluation and research.
  • Psychologist: Possesses a doctoral degree in psychology or a related field with a license to practice therapy and conducts psychological testing and research.
  • Psychiatrist: A medical doctor who specializes in psychiatry. Emphasis on primary service in prescribing and monitoring psychotropic medications and sometimes offers psychotherapy.

How much will therapy cost me?

  • Many healthcare plans cover treatment for emotional issues/concerns and mental disorders; plans vary widely.
  • Private practice fees will vary according to the clinician's expertise, level of experience, and location.
  • Therapy conducted by a registered intern under the supervision of a licensed clinician may be more affordable.

What should I ask a potential therapist?

  • Inquire about the therapist's training, licensure status, and commitment to his or her professional development.
  • Ask what type of therapy is utilized. How is this different from other types of therapy? What should you expect?
  • Does the therapist have a treatment agreement? The treatment agreement will likely cover fees, appointments, 
    cancellations, limits of confidentiality, etc.

What should I ask myself?

  • What do I hope to gain from therapy? Will this therapist help me do that?
  • Am I comfortable with this therapist? Would I want to come back?
  • Remember: The most important factor in securing effective therapy is a good relationship between you and your therapist.
  • Do I feel assured that the therapist is qualified to help me with the issues or concerns that have motivated me to seek therapy at this time?
  • Am I willing to do the work necessary to participate in therapy?

Will therapy work for me?

  • Research supports the assertions that therapy works for most clients.
  • Many report relief from depression, anxiety, relationship problems, and issues affecting the elderly amongst numerous other issues.
  • Many also report seeking therapy as a means of personal growth and exploration.

How long are therapy sessions?

  • Sessions are typically between 45 minutes and 50 minutes, but may be shorter or longer depending upon the treatment approach

How confidential are the sessions?

  • Information disclosed by patients is generally held as confidential except for disclosure required or permitted by law.

I tried therapy before and it didn’t work, why should I try it again?

  • Sometimes the chemistry between the therapist and client or the therapeutic modality just isn’t a good fit. Just as you sometimes have to switch medication, you may need to switch therapists or treatment moralities to achieve success. Therapy works best when you are open to it and are actually willing to participate in your own healing.