Therapy FAQs

What should I expect from the first appointment?

Your first appointment is known as an “intake” or “diagnostic assessment,” where your therapist gathers more information from you about why you are seeking therapy, about your history, and about the goals you want to work on in therapy. 

For minors, we conduct two intake assessments where we first meet with the minor’s parents, and the second solely with the minor. We do this so we can give parents the opportunity to meet the therapist, ask any questions, express concerns about their child, and what to expect regarding their child’s privacy.

What should I expect from therapy in general?

Psychotherapy is a collaborative treatment based on the relationship between an individual and a licensed clinical mental health therapist (including psychologists, professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers). 

Through conversation and structured discussion, therapy provides a supportive environment that allows you to talk openly with someone who’s objective, neutral, and nonjudgmental. You and your therapist will work together developing a treatment plan, which outlines the goals you want to work on, how you will work to accomplish them, and how you will measure progress. 

Your therapist may teach you about what you are dealing with and suggest some tools or strategies that might be helpful, but they will not tell you what to do. They will help you to find your own solutions that fit with your own value system. You can always adjust or change goals as you would like by talking with your therapist.

How often do I go and how long does therapy last?

You and your therapist will discuss the frequency of visits. Most clients will begin weekly or biweekly appointments which typically last between 45-60 minutes. 

Regarding how long you stay in therapy, there’s usually no specific time frame (e.g., six months) because everyone is different. You can always ask your therapist how long they think the therapy will last, but this can change based on what you need. Essentially, therapy is over once you have accomplished your goals, or you decide to terminate treatment.

What’s the difference between psychologists, counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers?

The titles “counselor” and “therapist” are often used in a general way to describe any person who provides guidance and assistance to people in many aspects of their lives. These common titles can apply to psychologists, social workers, guidance counselors, life coaches, case managers, and non-mental health professionals. The title “psychotherapist” is also a general (e.g., not official or protected) title that typically describes a professional who has at least a master’s degree and a license to practice. You should always seek a licensed (not simply “certified”) mental health professional for your mental health care. Your clinician should have a state-issued license to practice mental health, as this assures you that your clinician has met strict educational requirements. In addition, these licensed mental health professionals must adhere to ethical standards ensuring honesty and integrity and to provide services that promote a benefit to society. 

A link to the state’s public statute laws for each profession, known as the  Mississippi Code of 1972, is provided under each description.

  • A clinical psychologist has earned a doctoral degree (PhD, PsyD) in psychology, which is the study of the mind and behaviors. A doctoral degree involves four years of undergraduate study and then five or more years of graduate study. To become a licensed clinical psychologist, one must have completed an approved doctoral program with specific coursework and training, an internship and postdoctoral residency, and successful completion of state and national board examinations. The title “Licensed Psychologist” in Mississippi is a protected term that describes only individuals with that specific state-issued license.

Some psychologists pursue an additional one to two years of formal training after earning their doctorates to specialize in specific areas such as forensics (legal), health/behavioral medicine, pediatrics, and neuropsychology. The additional postdoctoral training requires psychologists to demonstrate specific competencies in order to deliver services in their respective areas.

Licensed Psychologists are qualified to conduct psychotherapy, as well as psychological testing and formal evaluations. Although psychologists have training and coursework in psychotropic medications, they do not have prescribing privileges in Mississippi. 

You can learn more here: Miss. Code Ann. § 73-31

  • A licensed professional counselor (LPC) is a mental health professional who has earned a master’s degree in psychology, counseling, or a related field. They apply mental health, psychological or human development principles, through cognitive, affective, behavioral, or systematic intervention strategies that address wellness, personal growth, career development, as well as pathology. To be fully licensed, the professional counselor is required to have two additional years’ experience working with a state board approved supervisor (known as an LPC-S) after earning their master’s degree. During that two-year period, the counselor has already passed a licensing exam, though are considered “provisional” (P-LPC), with a limited license, until they complete the required supervisory period. 

An LPC is qualified to diagnose and treat mental problems by providing counseling or psychotherapy. They’re trained to help people identify goals and potential solutions to emotional problems, improve coping skills, self-esteem and promote behavior change.

You can learn more here: Miss. Code Ann. § 73-30

  • A licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) has a master’s or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy from an institution of higher education in a program that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education (COAMFTE).

LMFTs use specialized clinical knowledge and advanced clinical skill in the areas of assessment, diagnosis, and the treatment of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders, conditions, and addictions within a marriage and family therapy treatment context.

Similar to LPCs, LMFTs are required to complete two additional years’ experience working with a state board approved LMFT supervisor after earning their master’s degree. During that two-year period, the LMFT has already passed a licensing exam, though are considered an “associate” (LMFTA) with a limited license. 

You can learn more here: Miss. Code Ann. § 73-54

  • A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (M.D. or D.O.) who specializes in preventing, diagnosing, and treating mental illness. A psychiatrist’s training starts with four years of medical school and is followed by a one-year internship and at least three years of specialized training as a psychiatric resident. As a medical doctor, a psychiatrist is licensed to write prescriptions. 

Many mental disorders – such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, or bipolar disorder – can be treated effectively with specific medications. Sometimes medication alone is enough to treat the mental illness. However, a combination of medication and psychotherapy or counseling is considered best practice. Although not as heavily trained in psychotherapy, some psychiatrists do provide psychotherapy. They may also refer you to a counselor or other type of mental health professional.

You can learn more about physicians (general practice) here: Miss. Code Ann. § 73-25

  • A licensed certified social worker (LCSW) has, at minimum, a bachelor’s level degree in social work while a licensed independent social worker has at least a master’s degree with two years of supervision. In Mississippi, they can provide clinical or “macro”/organizational social work. 

Clinical social work practice involves the professional application of psychotherapeutic and family systems theories and techniques in the delivery of therapy services to those persons. 

Like LPCs and LMFTs, clinical social workers are required to complete a two-year supervisory experience under a board approved LCSW after earning their master’s degree. While practicing under supervision, they have a limited license (LMSW). Clinical social workers are not permitted to identify as such until fully and independently licensed as an LCSW. 

You can learn more here: Miss. Code Ann. § 73-53


Phoenix Behavioral Health Center, PLLC
2112 Bienville Blvd Ste K
Ocean Springs MS, 39564

Phone: 228.819.2171
Secure Fax: 228.205.4986

Monday - Friday 8 AM - 5 PM
Evening and weekend hours available upon request.