What do the letters after your name mean?
M.S. = Master of Science
(L)AMFT = (Licensed) Associate Marriage and Family Therapist
What does this whole “Spill The Tea” thing mean?
“Spill the tea” is what the kids are saying now rather than “spill the beans” or simply, “tell me the drama.” I am using this mainstream phrase to help bring the idea of therapy into the mainstream.
The Spill The Tea in Therapy movement is all about breaking the stigma against mental health care by sharing (or spilling the tea on) our mental health experiences. We are showing society that it’s okay to talk about what’s going on in our brains, and it’s okay to ask for help.
To be a part of this movement, you can purchase a Spill The Tea bag, which helps in two ways. First, 25% of the proceeds from your purchase will be donated to TWLOHA, an organization that helps provide therapy to those in need. Second, just carrying the bag around in public gives society a chance to recognize– hey, that person is talking about therapy out in the open. Maybe it’s not so bad if I do, too. Or maybe– that’s a safe person to ask for help.
You can also be a part of the movement by spilling the tea on your own mental health experience. Email your story to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
What’s the difference between an AMFT and LMFT? Or any other therapist letters for that matter?
An associate MFT is a recent graduate from their graduate program, still under supervision by a more experienced mental health professional. I meet with my supervisor once for every five hours I’m with clients to discuss my cases and he tells me if he thinks I’m on track. It’s sort of like having two therapists on your case!
The other main letters a therapist might have are LPC (licensed professional counselor) or LCSW (licensed clinical social worker). The main difference between these licenses and mine is that they focus on individuals. They can provide couple and family counseling, but it is not their specialty.
Do you take my insurance?
Unfortunately, I am not a part of any insurance panels. However, your plan may offer you out-of-network benefits, meaning you can still submit your bill from us and insurance may reimburse you in part or in full. During your consultation, I will ask for your insurance information so we can check your benefits for you and save you a phone call and a headache!
Can you prescribe medication?
No, only a psychiatrist can prescribe medication. A psychiatrist is a mental health professional who has gone to medical school.
Do you have a specialty?
Yes– my specialty is relationships. Of course, that can mean many different things! I am trained to provide couples therapy and family therapy. I am also trained to help individuals improve their relationship with themselves. My favorite things to do within that are premarital counseling, helping teens strike a balance between their parents and their individuality, and helping individuals with their self-esteem.
How long will therapy take?
My ultimate goal is to be out of a job, because I know I’ve done good work when you don’t need me anymore. So I’ll never try to keep you in therapy longer than you need.
That said, the length of the process can vary greatly depending on several factors. The first is your level of motivation. The more you work for the change, the more quickly it will come. The second is the number and depth of problems we are working with. Finally, healing is not linear and it’s always possible things may come up that slow the process.
What does the therapy process look like?
The therapy process generally has about four parts that I’ve adapted from John and Julie Gottman’s method. As stated in the previous answer, the length of time spent in each part may vary.
- Assessment– gathering information about you and your relationships. Assessment continues throughout the other phases as well.
- Treatment- when we use the assessment information to set and achieve our goals for change
- Phasing out- we start seeing each other less frequently to see if you can implement the strategies for change independently
- Termination- usually one or two sessions where we look back on your progress and make a plan for how you’ll keep it up on your own. And celebrate your awesomeness!
What if I want couple or family therapy, but my partner or relatives won’t come with me?
Think of your relationship system as a mobile, like over a baby’s crib, with each person being a little frog or duck or star on it. If you touch one little frog, all the frogs end up moving.
Relationships are the same. If you do something different, the people in your system can no longer relate to you in the same way. They must do something different too, to account for the move you’ve made. In that way, we can still do relationship work with an individual, or when someone in a system refuses to attend therapy.
What are the limits to confidentiality?
Everything you say to me stays just between the two of us, with very few exceptions created to keep you and those around you safe. I am a mandated reporter, so I must break confidentiality if I learn that a child is being abused. I must also break confidentiality if you tell me you have a plan to hurt yourself or someone else.
Since I am still under supervision, I also share some of your case details with my supervisor. Know that this is also a HIPAA-compliant mental health professional who will take the utmost care to protect your privacy.