(504) 452-5937
(504) 452-5937

Frequently Asked Questions about Counseling & Therapy

What is counseling or therapy?

In the context of the information presented on this website, counseling and therapy are slightly different in experience although the words are used interchangeably. Basically, the counseling experience may directly address a single concern, thus be short-term, and goal-focused. Whereas, therapy usually involves a more intense, in-depth “look” into what is happening that is causing a repeated problem in your life.

What is Marriage and Family Therapy?

A family’s patterns of behavior influence the individual and therefore may need to be a part of the treatment plan. In marriage and family therapy, the unit of treatment isn’t just the person – even if only a single person is interviewed – it is the set of relationships in which the person is embedded.

Marriage and family therapy is:

• brief
• intervention-led
• specific, with attainable therapeutic goals
• designed with the “end in mind.”

Marriage and family therapists treat a wide range of serious clinical problems including depression, marital problems, anxiety, individual psychological problems, and child-parent problems. Research indicates that marriage and family therapy is as effective, and in some cases more effective than standard and/or individual treatments for many mental health problems such as: adult schizophrenia, affective (mood) disorders, adult alcoholism and drug abuse, children’s conduct disorders, adolescent drug abuse, anorexia in young adult women, childhood autism, chronic physical illness in adults and children, and marital distress and conflict.

Marriage and family therapists regularly practice short-term therapy; 12 sessions on average. Nearly 65.6% of the cases are completed within 20 sessions, 87.9% within 50 sessions. Marital/couples therapy (11.5 sessions) and family therapy (9 sessions) both require less time than the average individuated treatment (13 sessions). About half of the treatment provided by marriage and family therapists is one-on-one with the other half divided between marital/couple and family therapy, or a combination of treatments.

Who are Marriage and Family Therapists?

Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) are mental health professionals trained in psychotherapy and family systems and licensed to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders within the context of marriage, couples, and family systems.

Marriage and family therapists are a highly experienced group of practitioners, specifically trained and skilled in the clinical practice of marriage and family therapy.

Marriage and Family Therapists broaden the traditional emphasis on the individual to attend to the nature and role of individuals in primary relationship networks such as marriage and the family. MFTs take a holistic perspective to health care; they are concerned with the overall, long-term well-being of individuals and their families.

MFTs have graduate training (a Master’s or Doctoral degree) in marriage and family therapy and at least two years of clinical experience prior to earning their full license as a marriage and family therapist. Marriage and family therapists are recognized as a “core” mental health profession, along with psychiatry, psychology, social work, and psychiatric nursing.

Since 1970 there has been a 50-fold increase in the number of marriage and family therapists. At any given time they are treating over 1.8 million people.

I have never been to counseling or therapy before. How do I start?

The first step to starting counseling or therapy is to decide you want and need to take care of yourself. As most people, you have chosen to research where to go and who to meet with by looking on the Internet. This is a great first step! The next step is to call different therapists and do some consumer shopping. So, please feel free to give us a call. We will be glad to talk with you on the phone and decide with you which one of us is the best fit for you or if another therapist would be better. We are focused on you getting what you need during this stressful time. In our first phone conversation, we will discuss topics like (a) What is happening that you are considering counseling? (b) If the therapist you called is able to assist you? (If not, we will discuss with you other options?) (c) How much will the service cost you? (d) How did you locate us? And, (e) we will need to obtain some basic contact information, and then schedule your first appointment.

How do I know counseling will help?

Counseling and therapy have been proven to be an effective way of working through many of the stresses and events experienced in our lives that cause us to feel some distress. Counseling and therapy work for various reasons. You may “feel better” naturally since you are working at getting better! You may feel from our time together that we care about you and understand your struggle. This connection can give you the encouragement and motivation you need to implement just the right action to make your life a bit happier. We also want you to feel better, too. You may feel hope from our conversations, which can provide you a sense of confidence in yourself. Finally, each therapist thinks differently about how people change, therefore each of us will talk differently with you. This may give you a sense of truly being understood in a way that opens up new possibilities and solutions regarding your struggle. That’s why it is valuable for you to call us today. You can get a feel for us just through a phone call.

Should I come alone or with someone, like a family member?

This is a great question! Please, feel free to ask the therapist you speak with about her opinion. The people that participate in counseling will depend on what you want to accomplish. For example, if your parent has severely harmed you, individual counseling may be best. But, if you and your partner seem to argue too often, then couple therapy is usually a better idea. (Please, let us know during the initial phone call if domestic violence is happening or if you or a loved one is thinking about suicide.) During our initial phone call we can decide together if individual, couple, or family therapy is right.

How long will it take before I start to feel better?

We also want you to feel better as soon as possible. The earlier you connect with counseling, the quicker you will feel better. Research done by an insurance company a few years ago found out that when families go into counseling as a unit they typically experience relief sooner than when people participate in counseling by themselves. Each issue is very different because we are all unique individuals. We want to start addressing your struggle during our first phone call.

How will I know when it is time to stop coming to counseling or therapy?

This is another great question! You will know when counseling or therapy has worked because you will have more “good days” than you will have “bad days.” At the start of your treatment, you and the therapist will decide on a goal for treatment and how that will be accomplished. When the goal is met, you have the choice to discontinue the service, set a new goal, or maybe just take a break for a while and come back later to check-in. Counseling is flexible so that we can meet your needs. It is normal to be nervous when first contacting a therapist. Most people report feeling relief just knowing they have an appointment and someone will be there with them through their time of struggle.

What do all those letters behind your names mean (LPC, LMFT, and NCC)?

There are many credentials used in the field of mental health counseling and therapy. All these letters have one major perspective in common: we worked toward encouraging you to tap into your natural abilities. Our “job” is to help you reconnect with what is already inside of you and just waiting to shine.

Specifically, each credentialing attests to the education and training that the therapist has acquired. All three credentials indicate the therapist has completed a Master’s of Art degree in a counseling-related field plus supervised experience providing ethical services and/or counseling. Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) have 3000 hours of supervised experienced under another therapist with the same credentialing. LPCs believe in empowering their clients toward solving their problems. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs) have 3000 hours of supervised experience, of which 1000 hours must have occurred with couples and/or families, under another therapist with the same credentialing. LMFTs view individuals as interconnected, that is as a family. National Certified Counselors (NCCs) have met the requirements of LPCs and also have the ability to transfer their credentials across state lines (but that does not mean we can provide counseling to people who reside outside of the state of Louisiana).

Why should I use a Marriage and Family Therapist?

Research studies repeatedly demonstrate the effectiveness of marriage and family therapy in treating the full range of mental and emotional disorders and health problems. Adolescent drug abuse, depression, alcoholism, obesity and dementia in the elderly — as well as marital distress and conflict — are just some of the conditions Marriage and Family Therapists effectively treat.

Studies also show that clients are highly satisfied with the services of Marriage and Family Therapists. Clients report marked improvement in work productivity, co-worker relationships, family relationships, partner relationships, emotional health, overall health, social life, and community involvement.

In a recent study, consumers report that marriage and family therapists are the mental health professionals they would most likely recommend to friends. Over 98 percent of clients of marriage and family therapists report therapy services as good or excellent.

After receiving treatment, almost 90% of clients report an improvement in their emotional health, and nearly two-thirds report an improvement in their overall physical health. A majority of clients report an improvement in their functioning at work, and over three-fourths of those receiving marital/couples or family therapy report an improvement in the couple relationship. When a child is the identified patient, parents report that their child’s behavior improved in 73.7% of the cases, their ability to get along with other children significantly improved and there was improved performance in school. Marriage and family therapy’s prominence in the mental health field has increased due to its brief, solution-focused treatment, its family-centered approach, and its demonstrated effectiveness.

Today more than 50,000 marriage and family therapists treat individuals, couples, and families nationwide. Membership in the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) has grown from 237 members in 1960 to more than 25,500 in 2015. This growth is a result, in part, of renewed public awareness of the value of family life and concern about the increased stresses on families in a rapidly changing world.

What do I do if I feel counseling is not working for me?

By all means, if you are unsatisfied or discouraged, please tell us. We want to know as soon as possible. Be direct and clear with your feedback, so that we can address your concerns immediately. Your ongoing feedback helps us help you more effectively, even if that means referring you to someone who may be a better fit for you.

What if I have a formal grievance about the service I received?

First, please recognize that dissatisfaction with counseling or therapy and a formal grievance are completely different. A formal grievance means that you can prove that you received unethical and/or harmful treatment, whereas dissatisfaction with the service implies that you experienced counseling or therapy as ineffective (not harmful to you).

Second, each therapist listed on this website is an independent provider and is credentialed by the Licensed Professional Counselors’ Board of Examiners. We are all mandated to provide you with services that comply with the code of conduct regulated by the State of Louisiana. You can find additional information on the treatment consent you signed at the start of counseling or therapy. The following links access the appropriate code.

American Counseling Association (ACA, 2014)
American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT, 2012)