Plano Family Law attorney, Thomas Greenwald interviews Laurel Arnold Clement  on the various distinctions of mental health professionals.

Today’s guest is Laurel Clement, a licensed and board certified attorney for 30 years and a licensed counselor for 20 years. Laurel and Thomas discuss the distinction between different types of mental health professionals and provide guidance on how you may go about figuring out which type is best suited for your particular needs.

Listen on the go: Apple Podcast || Spotify || Google Play

Transcript

Tom: 
This is the “Family Law Advisor Podcast.” I’m Tom Greenwald. I’m a partner with family law firm of GoransonBain Ausley, board certified family law. I have been practicing family law exclusively for more than 27 years. The purpose of this podcast is to share information about family law to assist anyone that may be going through a family law dispute or simply provide listeners with a better understanding of family law. My guest today is Laurel Clement. Laurel is a licensed attorney. She has been practicing law for 30 years, and she is also a licensed professional counselor and has been licensed for the last 20 years. Laurel is with me today to talk about mental health professionals and their role as therapists and also the role as forensic experts in family law cases. Laurel, welcome to the “Family Law Advisor Podcast.” We are thrilled to have you as a guest today.

Laurel:
I’m thrilled to be here, Tom. Thank you so much.

Tom:
Thank you. So first let’s jump right into it. And in family law cases, so often people talk about social workers, they talk about licensed professional counselors, they talk about psychologists, they talk about psychiatrists, and it can be all very confusing for people because I think all those people are considered to be mental health professionals. As a licensed professional counselor yourself, can you kind of tell us what the distinction is between some of those labels?

Laurel:
Sure. There actually is a really big difference. So it’s important that your listeners understand that there is a big difference between them. First of all, the psychiatrist, that’s the easiest to delineate. The psychiatrist is a medical doctor. He’s gone to medical school. He has also done an additional residency in psychiatric medicine. And so he’s the one that prescribes the medication to clients. So the only people that can prescribe medication are psychiatrists or nurse practitioners that work under psychiatrists. So that’s important to know. Other states allow psychologists to prescribe medication, but not in Texas.

Tom:
So what is the big difference then other than the medication aspect of it? What do you see as a kind of the fundamental difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

Laurel:
There is a huge difference. A psychiatrist is not trained in how to counsel people. A psychiatrist is trained about how the body works. It’s more the facts of what effect does this particular medication have on the body. Now, of course, they do interview clients to figure out what medication is the best for them, but they’re talking to them to figure out how they’re feeling that particular day. They’re not counseling with them to, you know, work on personal goals to work on a treatment plan. And a psychologist, you want to talk about that particular role, a psychologist is a Ph.D. which means they have a doctorate in psychology. Psychologists can be various different roles.

For instance, psychologists are also trained in experimental psychology. Although, that is outside of the family law spectrum, that is one of the roles that they participate in, doing experiments on people, on animals things like that, helping to understand science and the science of the body a little bit better. So they’re trained in that. They’re also trained in the clinical aspect. And when I say clinical, what I mean by that is, sitting down and talking with a person on an individual counseling session, a couples counseling session. They’re also trained in doing clinical work. They’re also trained specifically in testing, and that’s one of their real benefits in the family law arena is their ability to test personalities and people, and make some assessments about people’s strengths and their deficits in their personality.

Tom:
Laurel, I’ve also seen a designation of an LCDC. What do those letters mean?

Laurel:
Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor. And that’s at a very specific license outside the other licenses that we’ve talked about. The big difference with the LCDC is, they only deal with substance abuses. You actually don’t even have to have an associate’s degree to be an LCDC. And you’re only allowed to talk with clients about substance abuse issues. If they have other issues that they need to deal with, they have to go to a more qualified or more educated counselor.

Tom:
How does someone obtain an LCDC? Is it like a certification?

Laurel:
It basically is. It’s a program is what they call it in the state, it’s a program, and you actually have to do a certain amount of hours, receive certain education, and work under another LCDC for a period of time.

Tom: 
There’s also a designation of a social worker, how does a social worker differ, for instance, from an LPC?

Laurel:
Well, the big difference is that social workers is a much more generic label. Social workers can be a bachelor level social worker, it can also be a master’s level social worker, and it can also be a master’s level social worker who’s allowed to do clinical work, meaning, see clients in a clinical setting. It also is generic in the way that social workers could do a variety of different jobs. They work with underprivileged, they try to assess what kind of benefits they need. They also can help tie them together with the benefits that they need.

Tom: 
Well, let me ask you this, for instance, when someone from Child Protective Services comes and is investigating an allegation, is that person typically a social worker, is that person typically an LPC? What type of credentials would that somebody from CPS typically have?

Laurel:
They could have a bunch of different labels.

Tom: 
But not necessarily a social worker or an LPC.

Laurel:
No.

Tom: 
Okay. Well, great. I really wanna thank you again for coming in and talking with me, and participating in the podcast. So I think we’ll end for today. But, if we invite you back, would you please come back?

Laurel:
Absolutely. I’m thrilled to be here today. Thank you, Tom.

Tom: 
Great. Thanks so much.