How to Find a Counselor in Northwest Arkansas
Maybe you have just had a death in the family…
Maybe you have a teenager who is giving you a run for your money…
Maybe your marriage is dry, or even almost dead…
Maybe you have a young child who may have ADHD…
Maybe you or someone in your family has an addiction…
Maybe you just found porn on a family computer…
The list goes on and on. In most of these situations it is appropriate to turn to a professional for help and guidance. But who do we trust? And how do we make that very important and possibly life-changing decision.
Counseling in Northwest Arkansas: Problem?
We have an interesting problem in Northwest Arkansas. We have a plethora of counselors to choose from.
There are four Masters of Counseling programs that feed counselors into the area: John Brown University, The University of Arkansas, Harding University, Pitt State and countless online programs. This is an interesting dilemma when someone decides they may need help.
Deciding on a counselor is a hard and often a daunting task. I want to walk you through the process to help you make that decision.
Finding the “Perfect” Counselor
First, how do you know that you need a counseling professional?
The short answer is that you know when you have exhausted your emotional resources, and the problem continues to intrude upon your daily life.
The long answer would tell you that a counselor is needed when there is an addiction (drugs, sex pornography), serious mental illness symptoms such as major depression (staying in bed all day unmotivated, loss of ability to enjoy life), Bi-Polar Disorder( (extreme mood swings, spending sprees, sleeplessness, intense irritability, pressured speech), ADHD ( inability to pay attention and sit still, among other symptoms). These are a few of the most serious reasons to seek counseling. But counseling can help in so many situations: career development, midlife crisis, transitions, life changes, new marriage, old marriage, and any life challenge that might be in your path.
If you have determined that you want to seek counseling there are a few questions that you will need to answer for yourself:
- Will I be more comfortable with a male or a female?
- Do I want faith-based counseling or not?
- How far am I willing to travel?
- What does my insurance policy cover for mental health and how much am I able to pay if I do not have insurance?
Faith Based Counseling?
Next it is important that you choose what type of clinic/practice you will be most comfortable in. There are several faith based clinics in Northwest Arkansas, and there are several non-faith based clinics.
One thing to remember is that counselors are trained to meet their clients where they are, and to address issues in a fashion that the client is comfortable with. So, whether you choose a faith-based clinic or a non-faith based clinic your counselor will hopefully tailor your experience according to your belief system, not theirs.
In choosing a therapist it is interesting to note that there are three levels of Professional counselors. First, there are interns. These are graduate students who are practicing their craft in a clinic as part of their graduate degree program. They are the most inexperienced group.
The next group are Licensed Associate Counselors and Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapists. These people have finished their Master’s Degree and have passed their licensing test, and have been interviewed by the Board of Examiners in Counseling. They have also completed 500 hours in their internship as part of their Master’s Degree Program.
LAC’s and LAMFT’s are under the guidance of a board-certified supervisor and they will likely discuss your case with their supervisor and will gain wisdom and help from these supervisors. Licensed Associate Counselors and Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapists are required to be under supervision for 3000 hours before they receive their terminal licensure from the State of Arkansas.
The final group are fully Licensed Professional Counselors and fully Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists. They have completed their 3000 hours of supervised work and these individuals are allowed to be paneled by insurance companies, unlike the LAC’s and LAMFT’s.
LPC vs LMFT
Another note: LPC stands for Licensed Professional Counselor. LMFT stands for Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. The LMFT has taken a few more hours of graduate school, and is more familiar with the family system. However, both LPC’s and LMFT’s are allowed to do relational counseling.
So, in looking for a professional, you can choose a counselor from any of these experience levels.
Counselor “Areas” or Specialties: Certified Counselors
In addition to obtaining State Licensure, counselors often have a specialty. There are post-graduate certifications and a variety of trainings that most counselors seek. I will list a few below so that in looking for a helping professional you will be a bit more knowledgeable. This is not a comprehensive list.
- Emotion Focused Couples Therapy: Many counselors are trained or certified in this method. Research shows this to be one of the most effective therapies for couples. Northwest Arkansas has many counselors trained in this method, including Fresh Roots Family Counseling.
- EMDR: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing: This method of working with trauma is popular and has been proven to be effective. A counselor must have training to do EMDR. EMDR is also proven to work best with single incident trauma.
- TFCBT: Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This is a method to help children and adults tell their trauma story. It is used worldwide with victims of trauma.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This is a method utilized to change your thinking in order to change your behavior.
- Dialectical Behavioral Therapy: This method is used for people who have had severe abandonment issues, and it is a practical approach to changing life habits.
- Play Therapy and Sand Tray Therapy: These experiential approaches are used with both children and adults utilizing play experiences and art to enable emotional expression.
- Sexual Addiction Therapy: There are counselors trained in this area designated by the acronym CSAT. Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist. This is a compassionate and practical approach to obtaining freedom from addiction.
- Co-Parenting Therapy: This is a method to help divorced parents learn to parent after divorce.
- Family Therapy: This is therapy for the family together, and can be effective for family reconciliation.
There are many more certifications but this is a short list which may help in your search.
Social Proof for Northwest Arkansas Family Counseling, Marriage Counseling, and Individual Therapies
Other considerations in finding the right therapist would be recommendations from friends and trusted individuals, the public reputation of the clinical practice, and proximity to your location.
It is important to note that counselors are not allowed to have a “dual relationship” with their clients. So, choosing a friend to counsel you may not be the wisest choice. If you choose someone that you know, remember that your relationship will change after you meet for counseling. The counselor is required to maintain a professional distance.
Final Thoughts on Choosing the Right Counselor
Lastly, remember that you are in control of your therapy. You have the right and privilege to choose not to come back, and to be honest if your needs are not met. The relationship between a therapist and client is a sacred trust.
It is important that you can relate to your therapist.
Northwest Arkansas is blessed to have such a wide base of capable therapists. Most practices have websites which introduce you to their specialties and their therapists.
Many pastors, lawyers, teachers and school counselors are also familiar with therapists here in Northwest Arkansas. The stigma of counseling is slowly becoming something of the past. Please do not hesitate to reach out for help when you need it.
As a counselor there are many times when my clients tell me that they wished they had come for counseling sooner.
Fresh Roots Family Counseling
At Fresh Roots Counseling we offer Emotion Focused Couples Therapy, EMDR for adults and children, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Play Therapy, Sand Tray Therapy, Sex Addiction Therapy, and Co-parenting Therapy and Family Therapy.
We also offer anger management and ADHD testing and treatment. We come alongside people who are experiencing anxiety, depression and serious mental illness.
We are one of the premier counseling clinics in Northwest Arkansas and The River Valley. Please add us to your search for a helping professional.