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If you wanted some help with your heart, your mind, or your relationships, what kinds of professional help can you get? Here are some options and their very simplified differences.

  1. A primary care physician (your regular doctor) - They can tell you if your physical symptoms are related to your emotional/mental symptoms and if someone else might better serve you. They can also prescribe you psychotropic meds to alter your mood, but I recommend talking with a counselor before jumping to that. This is usually a one-off or one-time prescribed and then once a month or so follow ups.

  2. A counselor (this could be an LPC, an LMFT, an LCSW, or a psychologist) - This is the place to go when you want to process a problem. There's lot of time and talking involved, meaning multiple appointments (anywhere from twice a week to once every six months, depending on the situation). This is often ongoing emotional support, as well as direction and education on things that could help. While in the state of Arkansas all the licenses listed above are approved to provide the same type of counseling, we often approach it differently. There are also specialty certifications they can have, within their licenses (like for drug and alcohol abuse, trauma, eating disorders, etc). Here's the rundown as I understand it...

    1. Licensed Professional Counselor - trained primarily to focus on the individual's problem.

    2. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist - trained to focus on the problem in a bigger context, usually the family system.

    3. Licensed Clinical Social Worker - trained to focus even wider, looking at the societal systems needed by individuals to thrive.

    4. A psychologist - trained to focus specifically at brain functioning and often more assessment oriented (rather than process oriented).

  3. A psychiatrist - They are your best bet for more intense mental illness. If you have chronic depression, ADHD, major OCD, or schizophrenia, these illness are standardly treated with medication of some type. Psychiatrist are really good at knowing those psychotropic meds and can prescribe them accurately, but they're probably not going to spend a lot of time with you talking about your relationships or your ongoing functioning with your illness.

  4. A psychiatric mental health facility - This is for the really intense cases, like potential suicide attempts or psychotic breaks. These facilities have all of the above professionals and more. You are often spending several nights there, to keep you safe and to help you stabilize, after which you will be released to the care of one of the other professionals on an outpatient basis.

  5. A rehab facility - Very much like the mental health facility, but is primarily focused on helping you recover from some type of addiction (drug, alcohol, eating disorder, etc).

And any one of us can refer to any of the others. Feel free to reach out to me if you need help finding a good one in your area!

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