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What is Counseling?

It's not what you’re thinking. At Springfield Marriage and Family Institute you will not find a little man with a scruff beard in a 70's shirt and tie talking to you with a German accent saying "Very Interesting. I zinks you hate chor mom!" while you lie on a couch in a room sterile enough to do surgery in or worse a book filled, moldy, dated, dark "hole in the wall" place.

Counseling, or to seek counsel, is to look for someone who has a knowledge you need. I'll bet you've already seen a counselor before! No? If we want to drive a car, we go to an instructor. When the car breaks down, we search for a mechanic. If we play ball, we have a coach. All provide counsel. When life gets challenging or we feel overwhelmed, we need someone to join us where we are, be there beside us in a non-condescending way to provide guidance and direction, for a healthier more productive life. It's always the right choice to better yourself.

Even if we're already doing "ok", do you just want to settle for a "just ok" life? Why not make it the best life possible! How many times do we buy a car then add things to fix it up? Wheels or stereos? Even professional athletes, who are at the top of their game, have continuous coaching to be even better. Springfield Marriage and Family Institute is here for you to get the most out of your life!

Not all Counselors are the same

Many therapists are well-meaning, but not always qualified to do marital therapy. In a national survey, 80% of all private practice therapists in the United States said they do marriage counseling. Yet only 12% of those therapists had the required academic course work and supervised, clinical counseling experience, actually working with marriages and families. The therapists at Springfield Marriage and Family Institute are among the 12% qualified nationwide.

Choosing a Marriage counselor

Here are some guidelines for you to consider should you seek professional help to improve your marriage.

  • Make sure your therapist has received specific training and is experienced in marital therapy. Too often, therapists say they do couples therapy or marital therapy if they have two people sitting in the office. This is incorrect. Marital therapy requires very different skills than doing individual therapy. Individual therapists usually help people identify and process feelings. They assist them in achieving personal goals. "How do you feel about that?" is their mantra. Couples therapists, on the other hand, need to be skilled at helping people overcome the differences that naturally occur when two people live under the same roof. They recognize and understand how a family system functions. They know what makes a marriage tick. A therapist can be very skilled as an individual therapist and be clueless, or worse, harmful to the marriage, and helping couples change. For this reason, don't be shy. Ask your therapist about his or her training and experience. Be sure you work with a marriage friendly therapist. We are the only marriage friendly therapist, featured on the National Registry of Marriage Friendly Therapists, in southwest Missouri.
  • Make sure your therapist is biased in the direction of helping you find solutions to your marital problems rather than helping you leave your marriage when things get rocky. Feel free to ask about the therapist's feelings about the point at which s/he sees divorce to be a viable alternative. Your therapist's response will be very revealing.
  • You should feel comfortable and respected by your therapist. You should feel that he or she understands your perspective and feelings. If your therapist sides with you or your spouse, that's not good. No one should feel ganged up on. If you aren't comfortable with something your therapist is suggesting- like setting a deadline to make a decision about your marriage- say so. If your therapist honors your feedback, that's a good sign. If not, leave.
  • The therapist's own values about relationships definitely play a part in what he or she does and is interested in when working with you. Since there are few universal rules for being loving and staying in love, if your therapist insists that there is only one way to have a successful marriage, find another therapist.
  • Although some people think that their therapist is able to tell when a person should stop trying to work on their marriage, therapists really don't have this sort of knowledge. If they say things like:
    • "It seems that you are incompatible,"
    • "Why are you willing to put up with this?"
    • "It is time to move on with your life,"
    The therapist is simply laying their own values on you. This is an unethical act.
  • Make sure you, your partner, and your therapist set concrete goals early on. If you don't, you will probably meet each week with no clear direction. Once you set goals, you should never lose sight of them. If you don't begin to see some progress within two or three sessions, you should address your concern with your therapist.
  • Know that most marital problems are solvable. Don't let your therapist tell you that change is impossible. Human beings are amazing and they are capable to doing great things- especially for people they love.
  • Most of all trust your instincts. If your therapist is helping, you'll know it. If he or she isn't, you'll know that too.
  • Finally, the best way to find a good therapist is word-of-mouth. Satisfied customers say a lot about the kind of therapy you will receive. Although you might feel embarrassed to ask friends or family for a referral, you should consider doing it anyway. It increases the odds you'll find a therapist who will really help you and your spouse.

Defining the types of Counselors by Licensure

Licensure defines "scope of practice". The state of Missouri determines qualifications needed to be licensed by law or administrative rule.


A Missouri state licensed psychologist is a health care professional who diagnoses and treats mental, nervous, emotional, and behavioral disorders and ailments. Missouri psychologists have earned a doctoral degree in psychology or otherwise meet the requirements of Missouri state statutes. Missouri psychologists have completed two years of supervised experience and have passed a national licensing exam.

  • They evaluate, counsel and provide psychotherapy for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental, nervous, emotional, and behavioral disorders.
  • They administer and interpret tests of mental abilities and aptitudes, interests, neuropsychological status, personality and emotions.
  • They evaluate and treat individuals for addictions, cognitive impairments, neuropsychological disorders and vocational needs.

Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC):

Missouri Licensed Professional Counselors have earned either a Master's or Doctorate degree in counseling, marriage and family therapy, psychology or related discipline according to the requirements of Missouri state statutes. They have passed a national licensing examination as well as completed a minimum of two years supervised experience, consisting of 3,000 hours of clinical counseling experience including 200 supervised hours. LPC's are qualified and licensed to work with individuals, couples and / or families in counseling, including administering and profiling psychological, personality, and family assessments within the boundaries of his/her competence, based upon education, training, and experience.

Provisionally Licensed Professional Counselor (PLPC)

Provisional Licensed Professional Counselors have earned a least a Master's degree in counseling, marriage and family therapy, psychology, or related discipline according to the requirements of Missouri state statutes. They have passed a national licensing examination and have applied to the Missouri Division for Professional Registration for licensure. The Missouri Division for Professional Registration has then granted them a provisional license subject to the supervision of a qualified and registered supervisor who is an LPC, licensed psychologist, or licensed psychiatrist. PLPC's may work as a professional counselor under the oversight and license of the registered supervisor. This enables them to complete the 3,000 hours of clinical counseling experience, including 200 supervised required hours for licensure.

It's Your Life, Your Choice.

Make It A Great One!