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What is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT)?
A Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) is a mental health professional specializing in providing therapy to individuals, couples, and families. They have completed a graduate-level marriage and family therapy program and received specialized training in working with relational and family systems.
LMFTs must complete several supervised clinical hours and pass a state licensing exam to become licensed. They use various therapeutic approaches proven to help their clients improve their relationships and address a range of mental health disorders, like anxiety, depression, addiction, and trauma.
LMFTs work in different settings, including private practices, community mental health clinics, hospitals, and schools. They may also specialize in working with specific populations, like couples, children, or LGBTQ+ individuals, delivering couples counseling or marriage counseling, among other treatments.
Licensed therapists in Tennessee require a number of qualifications to obtain Tennessee’s only MFT license. Firstly, candidates must complete a master’s or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy or a related field from a regionally accredited institution. Additionally, they must have completed at least 1,000 hours of clinical experience, including at least 200 hours under the supervision of an LMFT or other qualified mental health professional.
Candidates must also pass the Marital and Family Therapy (EMFT) National Examination and the board’s oral exam.1 Finally, candidates must apply to the Tennessee Board of Licensed Professional Counselors, Marital and Family Therapists, and Clinicians. These requirements ensure that only qualified and competent individuals can practice as LMFTs in Tennessee.2
What to Expect When You Talk to an LMFT
When you speak with an LMFT counselor in Tennessee, you can expect a safe, confidential, and non-judgmental environment where you can freely share your concerns and struggles. In addition, the LMFT will use evidence-based therapeutic techniques and approaches to help you work through your mental health concerns and improve your relationships with your family members, partner, or others.
At your first session, the LMFT counselor will ask questions about your background, current situation, and the specific issues that brought you to therapy. They’ll also want to learn about your objectives. This information will help the therapist understand your situation and customize their approach to meet your needs best.
The LMFT may use various therapeutic techniques, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), emotion-focused therapy, or systemic therapy, to help you identify behavior patterns.
Signs an LMFT Therapist is Right for You
Finding the right therapist can be an essential factor in the success of therapy. Here are some signs that a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) may be right for you:
- You feel comfortable talking to them: A good LMFT therapist will create a safe and supportive environment that makes you comfortable opening up and sharing your thoughts and feelings.
- They have experience working with your specific issues: An LMFT counselor who has experience working with your particular concerns, such as relationship issues, family conflict, or anxiety, will have the expertise and training to provide effective treatment.
- They use evidence-based approaches: Look for an LMFT who uses evidence-based practices, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or emotion-focused therapy, which effectively treat a range of mental health issues.
- They are a good listener: An LMFT who actively listens to you and seeks to understand your perspective can help you feel heard and validated, which can be important for building a trusting relationship.
- They are non-judgmental and empathetic: A good LMFT therapist will be accepting and empathetic, without judgment or bias, and work to create a collaborative therapeutic relationship.
- They have good boundaries: An LMFT who maintains appropriate professional boundaries, such as keeping confidentiality and avoiding dual relationships, can help ensure the therapeutic relationship remains safe and ethical.
- They are willing to work with you to set goals and track progress: An LMFT therapist who is collaborative and willing to work with you to set goals and track progress can help you feel more engaged in the therapy process and make meaningful progress toward your goals.
Here are some situations where it may be better to seek the help of a different mental health professional than an LMFT therapist:
- Severe mental illness: LMFTs are trained to work with a wide range of mental health concerns, but severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, may require the specialized expertise of a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist.
- Medication management: While LMFTs can diagnose their patients, they are not authorized to prescribe medication. So, if you require medication to manage your mental health concerns, you should consult a psychiatrist or a psychiatric nurse practitioner.
- Crises: If you’re experiencing a mental health crisis, such as suicidal thoughts or a panic attack, you should seek immediate help from a crisis helpline, emergency department, or other mental health professional.
- Legal issues: LMFTs are not trained to provide legal advice or participate in legal proceedings.
- Medical issues: If your mental health concerns are related to a medical condition or require medical management, it may be appropriate to seek the help of a medical doctor or other healthcare professional.
Insurance may be able to help cover the cost of therapy. Find out if your insurance can help with the costs by calling your insurance provider or by contacting us below. One of our care coordinators can help you navigate your insurance coverage and get the care you need.
How Much Does Therapy with an LMFT Cost in Tennessee?
The cost of therapy sessions with an LMFT counselor in Tennessee can fluctuate based on factors such as location, the therapist’s experience level, and the type of therapy provided. Typically, the cost can range from $75 to $250 per hour, averaging about $100.3 Remember that some therapists offer discounts for purchasing numerous sessions or a sliding scale for income-based rates.
Several variables can affect what you pay for therapy in Tennessee. Still, unfortunately, insurance doesn’t typically cover couples or marriage counseling. If you have health insurance, it’s best to check with your provider to understand the full scope of your mental health benefits. Some LMFTs accept Medicaid or offer a reduced fee for clients without insurance.
The cost of therapy shouldn’t be the sole factor when selecting a therapist. Finding a therapist who can cater to your needs and has experience working on the specific issues you want to address is crucial. Several LMFT therapists offer free initial consultations, the ideal opportunity to ask questions and assess if the therapist is the right fit for you.
Athena Care is in-network with most major insurance plans, and we have multiple behavioral health clinics in Tennessee. Allow one of our expert care coordinators to contact your insurance provider for more information on your specific benefits. They’ll review your policy and thoroughly explain your options for therapy with an LMFT therapist in Tennessee. Call (615) 320-1155 to get started today.
How to Choose the Best LMFT Therapist in Tennessee
Choosing the best LMFT in Tennessee for your needs can be challenging. Finding the right therapist is a highly personal decision that may take trial and error. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or schedule initial consultations with several therapists before choosing one.
Here are some tips to help you choose the best LMFT therapist in Tennessee:
- First, consider your specific needs and goals for therapy. For example, are you dealing with anxiety or relationship issues, or do you have other concerns you hope to address?
- You’ll need to decide whether you want short-term or long-term therapy.
- Once you know your needs clearly, look for licensed and accredited therapists. LMFT therapists in Tennessee are licensed by the Board of Social Workers and Professional Counselor Examiners.4 You can verify a therapist’s license on the board’s website.
- It’s also a good idea to seek out therapists from professional organizations, like the American Counseling Association.5 These organizations have ethical guidelines and standards that their members must meet, giving you added peace of mind as you search for the right therapist.
- Don’t be afraid to ask many questions, including but not limited to the therapist’s education, experience, and therapeutic ideology.
- Consider factors such as location, availability, and cost when choosing an LMFT therapist in Tennessee. Then, choose a therapist whose location is convenient for you and whose schedule can accommodate your needs.
- To better understand a therapist’s approach, style, and effectiveness, reading reviews online or asking friends and family who have worked with an LMFT in Tennessee for recommendations can be beneficial.
LMFT vs. LCSW vs. LPC: What’s the Difference?
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFTs), Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs), and Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) are all licensed healthcare professionals who provide therapy to individuals, couples, and families. However, the main differences include their education, training, and focus areas.
LMFTs specialize in working with couples and families to address communication, relationship, and family dynamics issues. They receive specialized training in systemic therapy, which focuses on how people function in relation to their families and relationships. LMFTs can practice in various settings, such as behavioral health clinics, hospitals, schools, and private practice.
LCSWs have a broader scope of practice and can work with individuals, couples, families, and communities to address mental health and social welfare issues. They receive training in various therapeutic approaches, social work values, and ethics. LCSWs can also work in different settings, such as community health clinics and schools.
LPCs also have a broad scope of practice. They may work with individuals, couples, and families to address various mental health concerns. They receive training in different therapeutic approaches and may specialize in areas such as addiction counseling, trauma counseling, or career counseling. LPCs also work in a variety of settings.
All three professions are qualified to provide therapy and can be effective in helping individuals, couples, and families address mental health concerns. However, your best choice will depend on your specific needs and preferences.
- “Tennessee Counseling License Requirements.” Counseling Degree Guide, 23 Mar. 2023, www.counselingdegreeguide.org/licensure/tennessee.
- American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. “Tennessee State Resources.” American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), www.aamft.org/Advocacy/State_Resources/Tennessee.aspx. Accessed 7 May 2023.
- Panganiban, Kimberly. “How Much Does Marriage Counseling Cost?” Choosing Therapy, 6 Aug. 2021, www.choosingtherapy.com/marriage-counseling-cost.
- “Board of Social Workers Licensure.” Tn.gov, www.tn.gov/health/health-program-areas/health-professional-boards/sw-board/sw-board/licensure.html. Accessed 7 May 2023.
- “About American Counseling Association.” American Counseling Association, www.counseling.org. Accessed 7 May 2023.
If you suspect that you or someone you love suffers from mental health disorders, contact Athena Care today.
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