- Jenn Steliga
Series on Building Your Team: Dr. Jeanne Conner, Psy.D., Marriage & Family Therapist
Our well-being can be enhanced by building a team of trusted advisors in areas where we are not experts or just need a little guidance. Finding the right professional is important, so take your time to determine the best fit for you. In this series, I introduce you to professions you may want to learn more about, with posts written by professionals whom I know to be caring and competent in their particular discipline. The goal is to educate you, my readers, about the various helping professions and how that field might be of service to you or someone you know.
Dr. Jeanne is a Marriage and Family Therapist practicing in San Diego.
Tell us more about your field of marriage and family therapy.
Marriage & Family Therapists (MFTs) treat a wide range of clinical issues such as depression, marital problems, anxiety, individual psychological problems, and child-parent problems. MFTs are mental health professionals trained in psychotherapy and family systems. We are licensed to diagnose and treat emotional disorders within the context of a family system. MFTs have graduate training (a master’s or doctoral degree) in marriage & family therapy and at least two years of clinical experience.
There are a number of different designations in the therapy world, most of which might be confusing to the average consumer, especially because they can vary from state to state! In California, two of the most common designations clients might notice is that of Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). Can you give us a quick idea of the differences between an LPCC and an LMFT?
Within the world of mental health, MFTs are generally considered a specialty field and operate within a narrower scope of practice. LPCCs operate more generally within the field of mental health, and MFTs tend to focus on couples and families. Also, MFTs tend to look at problems from a relationship standpoint, whereas LPCCs look more broadly at the client's ecological systems, such as cultural contexts, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. Both licenses are granted after a master’s degree program and at least two years of supervised work in their respective fields.
Who would benefit from working with a marriage and family therapist?
Therapy can be beneficial to anyone who is looking to gain insight into their behavior or thought process. Also, couples who would like to improve their communication or families who have a child who is symptomatic with anxiety or depression could benefit from the guidance of an MFT. In addition, adults who have relational issues that they would like to work out on an individual basis could benefit from pursuing therapy.
What does the process of therapy look like?
Therapy with an MFT generally consists of approximately 12 sessions. It is considered a short-term, brief intervention. If after 12 sessions, a client's symptoms don't subside, then a referral to a psychiatrist may be a necessary step toward improving his or her quality of life.
Sometimes the task of finding a therapist can be the toughest part of the process: what tips do you have for folks considering therapy, but not knowing where to start? What should they look for in a therapist?
Today we have an online user friendly resource at www.psychologytoday.com that has helped thousands of individuals find a mental health professional that is right for them. You use your zip code and insurance information (if applicable) to search for a provider in your area. Therapists advertise with information about their approach to therapy and their contact information. Another way to find a therapist in your area is to call your insurance company directly to find out what providers are accepting new clients.
You offer a variety of traditional services at your practice, ranging from individual to couple and family sessions; you also offer divorce mediation services. I think most people are familiar with the differences between an individual counseling session versus a couples’ session, but I don’t think most people know about divorce mediation. Could you tell us more about it, the value you see in this process, and who would most likely benefit from mediation?
Mediation is now one of the most frequently used methods of negotiating a divorce settlement. It is less expensive than litigation through lawyers, and it's a great alternative for couples who are on a friendly basis and can agree upon the terms of their divorce, for both finances and child custody. It is invaluable to families who want to save money and move forward with the divorce process in an amicable manner. It is not right for every couple, but for those that can come to an agreement on money and child visitation schedules, it can be extremely beneficial and cost efficient.
Lastly, what do you love most about being a therapist and why?
I feel honored to share in the journey of healing with each and every one of my clients. Everyone has a different story and a unique past. I love building a relationship with each client to earn their trust and help them move forward in their lives. I appreciate the diversity of my clients, and I love that no day is ever the same. For example, I may see a college student, followed by a couple, and then a young girl with her mother. All of my clients are interesting and motivated for change, which makes my job so enjoyable!
You can reach Dr. Jeanne via her webiste: www.jeanneconnermft.com or phone 858.401.0972