How Does Celebrity Couples Therapy Differ From Yours?

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson
Updated November 9, 2023by Regain Editorial Team

If you watch TV, read magazines, or go anywhere on the internet, you’ve likely seen video clips or articles about celebrity couples attending therapy. You may have wondered what was so special about their therapists and considered scraping together enough money to see a more expensive therapist too. In reality, being a “therapist to the stars” does not mean that a mental health professional is better or more experienced than any other licensed therapist. There are many mental health professionals who can offer you the help you deserve, and marriage and family therapists can be particularly beneficial for those seeking couples therapy. It can be possible to find a suitable therapist in your local area or through an online therapy platform.

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So, what exactly is celebrity couples therapy? The truth is that it’s the same as any other type of couples therapy. Celebrities often tend to go to the same therapists, but because they carry recognizable names, those therapists often become known as “therapists to the stars.” However, there generally isn’t a difference between that therapist and the one you could find in your hometown. The only difference is usually how much they’re being paid.

What Are Your Options?

When you start looking at your options for therapy in your area, you might find that not everyone has the same qualifications. You will generally want to look for someone who has finished their schooling, is board-certified, and is licensed by the state. Let’s look at a few of the types of therapeutic professionals you might find in your search for a couples therapist.

Psychiatrist

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has also finished extensive training in mental health care. They are usually the only dedicated mental health professionals who can prescribe medication. Family doctors can prescribe medication, but don’t typically have the same psychiatric training. Psychologists and other mental health professionals, on the other hand, have similar mental health training but cannot normally prescribe medications.

Psychiatrists typically focus on diagnosing mental health conditions and prescribing and managing medications for their patients. Some practice various forms of psychotherapy, but this tends to be rare. In addition to prescribing medications, psychiatrists can refer patients to other mental health professionals for psychotherapy or counseling.

Psychiatric Or Mental Health Nurses

These nurses have usually finished a master’s or doctoral-level degree in nursing, with a specialized focus on psychiatry. They are often qualified to assess mental health, diagnose mental illness, and provide treatment in the form of therapy and – in some states – medication. They can also provide and manage treatment for substance use disorders. Their role in mental health treatment usually varies by state, as each state normally has its standards for what psychiatric nurses are allowed to do and how much supervision they need to have from a psychiatrist.

Psychologist

A psychologist is typically a mental health professional with a doctoral level of education. This can be either a Ph.D. or a Psy.D. Some Ph.D. programs focus heavily on psychology. For the most part, however, both Ph.D. and Psy.D. programs include extensive clinical experience. Psychologists are often trained to diagnose mental health conditions and provide treatment in group or individual therapy. They can also refer their patients to a medical professional for medication if necessary.

Psychologists receive training in a wide variety of clinical and psychotherapeutic approaches. Most of them use a mixture of these approaches and methods in their practice. Some psychologists specialize in certain methods, like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), and many others.

Clinical Social Workers

Clinical social workers are normally mental health professionals who have finished a Master of Social Work degree (MSW). MSW programs often provide training in a variety of therapeutic approaches, as well as social work skills such as advocacy and case management. They usually include thousands of hours of clinical experience.

Clinical social workers who perform psychotherapy or counseling are typically Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW). They can evaluate, diagnose, and treat mental health problems using therapy and counseling. Like psychologists, they cannot normally prescribe medication but may refer their patients to medical professionals if they believe that medications are necessary.

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Therapists, Counselors, And Clinicians

People who have finished a master’s degree in a mental health field like psychology can work under various licenses as therapists, clinicians, and counselors. The different licenses often reflect their degrees. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) are more likely to have a degree in marriage and family counseling. In contrast, a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) may have finished their master’s degree in psychology.

Since the requirements for these professional licenses tend to vary by state, the education and experience of the therapists and counselors may be different depending on your location. In general, however, licensed professionals have received training in mental health evaluation and treatment and finished many hours of clinical experience.

Pastoral Counselors

Pastoral counselors are generally counselors who have received their education in counseling from a religious perspective. They are usually members of the clergy in various denominations. Pastoral counselors who are participants of the ACPE have normally met high-level certification requirements, in some cases similar to a doctoral-level degree.

Which Therapist Is Right For You?

A long list of professionals, with their varying degrees and specialties, can be daunting. How are you supposed to choose? To help you decide on the right mental health professional, you might consider the type of therapy you’re seeking and the type of training most likely to meet that need.

More Education Isn’t Always Better

The mental health professionals above are listed in roughly the order of the level of degree necessary for the licenses. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the professionals higher on the list will be better couples therapists. Despite their doctorate degree, a psychologist with an extensive background in individual psychotherapy may not be likely to help you and your partner more than a Licensed Professional Counselor with a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy.

Not all mental health degrees may teach the same things. Although the psychologist has finished more education overall in most cases, the Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) may have more training and experience working with couples. They are usually more likely to have taken specialized classes in working with couples and the issues that couples and families usually face.

Individual Considerations

The final thing that you should consider when deciding among mental health professionals may be your circumstances. For instance, if you are a religious couple, you may be comfortable with a pastoral counselor who can help you reach relationship goals that correspond with your religious beliefs. Or, perhaps your problems as a couple seem to be caused by individual mental health or addiction issues. In that case, you may want to seek couples therapy from a professional who is also qualified to help with those individual issues.

Your First Choice Isn’t Your Last Choice

Sometimes, your best option is to choose someone who seems qualified and appropriate for your needs at the time and meet with them. You might see whether you and your partner feel comfortable with this person and notice whether they are supportive of your relationship goals as a couple. 

Please remember that you’re allowed to choose someone else. You don’t necessarily have to continue couples therapy with the first mental health professional that you meet. Whether you decide to meet with a few therapists or counselors before making your choice or find after a few sessions that your first choice isn’t as good as you thought they were, the decision is up to you. The right therapist for you and your partner will usually make you both comfortable, help both of you feel supported, and accept your goals as a couple.

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Online Therapy

A final consideration for couples therapy may be online counseling. If you’re looking for a therapist or counselor and want to make sure you’re not overpaying for the quality you’re getting, then an online therapy platform can be the way to go. This can add availability and convenience to the therapy experience by empowering you to get the help you deserve from the comfort of your home at a time that works for both you and your partner.

This study looks at the efficacy of online couples therapy and finds that it can be as effective as traditional in-office couples therapy. If face-to-face therapy isn’t the ideal option for you, please don’t hesitate to try online therapy as a more affordable alternative.

Takeaway

Whatever type of mental health professional you choose, please remember that you don’t need a celebrity couples therapist. Charging lots of extra money and seeing very glamorous clientele does not necessarily make a mental health professional more competent, caring, or supportive. You might consider the type of counseling you’re seeking, the unique needs of your relationship, and the mental health professional with which you feel the most comfortable. Don’t forget that online therapy can be a convenient alternative if in-person therapy isn’t the right choice for you.

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