Are you confused?
Recently an individual calling to request an appointment asked me what a Marriage and Family Therapist was and what the difference was between my credential and that of a Psychologist, a Counselor, a Therapist and a Social Worker. This is a question that I have been asked often, and I understand the confusion that many people have when they consider seeking health with an issue surrounding their relationships, grief, illness, mental health disorder, and parenting, addiction or life transitions such as divorce or aging.
In addition, often client will ask about terms that are used in regard to treatment and practice that they find confusing such as “psychotherapy", "mental disorder”, “treatment centers”, “group therapy” and “family therapy "among others. I have included a few of those in this handout.
After attempting to explain the, “scope of practice” or “scope of competency” for each of the above professional credentials to clients, I decided to make a handout that could provide a better understanding and, therefore, make informed choices. I gathered information from the Kansas Behavioral Regulatory Board. I have further realized after speaking with other professionals that many times they do not have a clear understanding of the differences. As a mental health professional, it is essential to know the differences in the scope of practice for each as to be better informed when making needed referrals.
Here is a extremely brief and concise description of each mental health profession and some often used terms for your information and consideration:
Family therapy is based on the belief that the family is a unique social system with its own structure and patterns of communication. These patterns are determined by many factors, including the parents' beliefs and values, the personalities of all family members, and the influence of the extended family (grandparents, aunts, and uncles). As a result of these variables, each family develops its own unique personality, which is powerful and affects all of its members.
Family therapy is based on the following concepts as well:
A family therapist:
Family therapy is a remarkably active type of therapy and family members are often given assignments. For example, parents may be asked to delegate more responsibilities to their children.
The number of sessions required varies, depending on the severity of the problems and the willingness of the members to participate in therapy. The family and the therapist set mutual goals and discuss the length of time expected to achieve the goals. Not all members of the family attend each session.
What To Expect After Treatment
People who participate in family therapy sessions learn more about themselves and about how their family functions.
Why It Is Done
Anyone who has a condition that interferes with his or her life and the lives of family members may benefit from family therapy. Usually, the better the family functions, the lower the stress level for the person with the health problem.
Family therapy has been used successfully to treat many different types of families in many different situations, including those in which:
Family therapy can also be useful before problems begin. Some families seek this type of therapy when they anticipate a major change in their lives. For example, a man and woman who both have children from previous marriages may go to family therapy when they marry to help all family members learn how to live together.
The concepts of family therapy can also be used in individual therapy sessions and are particularly helpful for people who come from families in which there is illness and/or other problems. Adults who lived in poorly functioning families as children may benefit from individual therapy using family therapy concepts.
How Well It Works
Family therapy is useful in dealing with relationship problems within the family and may help reduce symptoms such as eating disorders or alcohol use problems. However, more specific types of therapies, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or medications, may be needed as well.
What To Think About
For best results, all family members need to work together with the therapist toward common goals. However, if one member refuses to attend sessions, other family members can still benefit by attending.
"Practice of psychology'' means the application of established principles of learning, motivation, perception, thinking and emotional relationships to problems of behavior adjustment, group relations and behavior modification, by persons trained in psychology. The application of such principles includes, but is not restricted to, counseling and the use of psychological remedial measures with persons, in groups or individually, having adjustment or emotional problems in the areas of work, family, school and personal relationships; measuring and testing personality, intelligence, aptitudes, public opinion, attitudes and skills; the teaching of such subject matter; and the conducting of research on problems relating to human behavior, except that in all cases involving the care of the sick and ill as defined by the laws of this state, the primary responsibility devolves upon those licensed under the Kansas healing arts act. The practice of psychology includes the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders specified in the edition of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders of the American psychiatric association designated by the board by rules and regulations.
“Social work practice” means the professional activity of helping individuals, groups or communities enhance or restore their capacity for physical, social and economic functioning and the professional application of social work values, principles and techniques in areas such as psychotherapy, social service administration, social planning, social work consultation and social work research to one or more of the following ends: Helping people obtain tangible services; counseling with individuals, families and groups; helping communities or groups provide or improve social and health services; and participating in relevant social action. The practice of social work requires knowledge of human development and behavior; of social, economic and cultural institutions and forces; and of the interaction of all these factors. Social work practice includes the teaching of practicum courses in social work and includes the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders as authorized under K.S.A. 65-6306 and 65-6319, and amendments thereto.
“Psychotherapy” means the use of psychological and social methods within a professional relationship, to assist the person or persons to achieve a better psychosocial adaptation to acquire greater human realization of psychosocial potential and adaptation; to modify internal and external conditions which affect individuals, groups or communities in respect to behavior, emotions and thinking, in respect to their intra-personal and inter-personal processes. Forms of psychotherapy include but are not restricted to individual psychotherapy, conjoint marital therapy, family therapy and group psychotherapy.
"Practice of professional counseling'' means assisting an individual or group for a fee, monetary or otherwise, through counseling, assessment, consultation and referral and includes the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders as authorized under the professional counselors licensure act.
"Professional counseling'' means to assist an individual or group to develop an understanding of personal strengths and weaknesses, to re structure concepts and feelings, to define goals and to plan actions as these are related to personal, social, educational and career development and adjustment.
"Assessment' 'means selecting, administering, scoring and interpreting instruments designed to describe an individual's aptitudes, abilities, achievements, interests and personal characteristics.
"Consultation' 'means the application of principles, methods and techniques of the practice of counseling to assist in solving current or potential problems of individuals or groups in relation to a third party.
"Referral' 'means the evaluation of information to identify problems and to determine the advisability of referral to other practitioners.
Licensed Professional Counselor
"Licensed professional counselor'' means a person who is licensed under this act and who engages in the practice of professional counseling except that on and after January 1, 2002, such person shall engage in the practice of professional counseling only under the direction of a licensed clinical professional counselor, a licensed psychologist, a person licensed to practice medicine and surgery or a person licensed to provide mental health services as an independent practitioner and whose licensure allows for the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders.
"Licensed clinical professional counselor'' means a person who engages in the independent practice of professional counseling including the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders specified in the edition of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders of the American psychiatric association designated by the board by rules and regulations and who is licensed under this act.
Licensed Master’s Level Psychologist
Any person who is licensed under the provisions of this act as a licensed masters level psychologist shall have the right to practice psychology only insofar as such practice is part of the duties of such person's paid position and is performed solely on behalf of the employer, so long as such practice is under the direction of a licensed clinical psychotherapist, a licensed psychologist, a person licensed to practice medicine and surgery or a person licensed to provide mental health services as an independent practitioner and whose licensure allows for the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders.
Marriage and Family Therapist
As used in the marriage and family therapists licensure act:
(a) "Board'' means the behavioral sciences regulatory board created under K.S.A. 74-7501 and amendments thereto.
(b) "Marriage and family therapy'' means the assessment and treatment of cognitive, affective or behavioral problems within the context of marital and family systems and includes the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders as authorized under the marriage and family therapists licensure act.
(c) "Licensed marriage and family therapist'' means a person who engages in the practice of marriage and family therapy and who is licensed under this act except that on and after January 1, 2002, such person shall engage in the practice of marriage and family therapy only under the direction of a licensed clinical marriage and family therapist, a licensed psychologist, a person licensed to practice medicine and surgery or a person licensed to provide mental health services as an independent practitioner and whose licensure allows for the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders.
(d) "Licensed clinical marriage and family therapist'' means a person who engages in the independent practice of marriage and family therapy including the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders specified in the edition of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders of the American psychiatric association designated by the board by rules and regulations and is licensed under this act.
[In addition, as a Marriage and Family Therapist, I have been trained to provide therapy from a systems perspective using models and approaches associated with the marriage and family professional. I work together with my clients to help set goals that they wish to accomplish while coming to therapy. ]
“Addiction counseling” means the utilization of special skills to assist persons with addictions, and to assist such persons’ families and friends to achieve resolution of addiction through the exploration of the disease and its ramifications, the examination of attitudes and feelings, the consideration of alternative solutions an decision making, as these relate specifically to addiction are within the scope of practice of addiction counseling. Additionally, at the clinical level of licensure, addiction counseling includes independent practice and the diagnosis and treatment of substance disorders.