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Anxiety? Fear? Finding a Psychologist or Therapist in Boise, ID.

Finding the best, the most revered in their field, or the most qualified psychologist or mental health therapist in a place like Boise, Idaho, can be challenging, difficult, and, ultimately, an expensive thing to do. If you need professional help with any anxiety or fear issues that you are currently struggling with, put down whatever device you’re using to search our old friend Google, and read on To begin with, you don’t need the best or most revered or most qualified “psychotherapist” out there (or whatever other parameters you’re using to hone down your search). You just need the right one for you, one that understands what you’re going through, how it’s affecting your daily life and is competent to treat you with the proven, evidence-based techniques at their disposal – to the point where anxiety or fear or both no longer impact on your life as you’d like it to be. That’s exactly where this article comes in.

“Birds sing after a storm. Why shouldn’t people feel as free to delight in whatever sunlight remains to them?” – Rose Kennedy – American philanthropist (1890-1995)

Everyone searches for freedom. Often, to be free of money worries or to be free of the 9-5 job they work. Sometimes, they search to be free of the restrictive social boundaries of a more “conventional” life. For some others, that search, and its answer, isn’t in the outside, regular world – it’s right there in their head.  Rest assured, you are not the only one who yearns to finally be free from the heavy chains of constant anxiety and fear, that stifle any progress you make, and stop you from being truly free. When it comes to mental health issues and problems, and even disorders, you are never alone, and there is professional help – a qualified psychologist or mental health therapist – you need, it exists, and it can often be found right on your doorstep. Finding a therapist in Boise

Boise, Idaho: How Many Mental Health Therapists & Psychologists?

There are currently 28 qualified (eg. with a Ph.D./Masters in Psychology or similar professional qualification) practices or individuals providing mental health services in and around Boise, Idaho. Looking in more detail at this total number of 28: 

    • 14 describe themselves as counselors
    • 5 describe themselves as psychologists
    • 5 describe themselves as psychotherapist
    • 2 describe themselves as mental health clinics
    • 1 describes themselves as a mental health service
    • 1 describes themselves as a psychiatrist, and


  • No-one, however, describes themselves as a therapist


Psychologist or Mental Health Therapist? What’s the Difference?

The above list sounds a little confusing, don’t you think? Now, you may be wondering, and we’re sure you’re not alone, what exactly differentiates a psychologist from a therapist? In fact, “therapist” itself is a somewhat indefinable word (someone who provides therapy of some sort… and no more) and a very general term for a wide range of possible fields – primarily, of course, medicine. Throw in a generalized job description or profession like “counselor, and the waters become a little muddier. Then, of course, there are psychiatrists and psychotherapists – the first makes you think of mental institutions, and the second which implies a therapy provider in the field of psychology, but doesn’t that make them a psychologist? In other words, more than a little confusing. So, to assist you in your search for a competent mental health professional, in Boise, Idaho, that deals with anxiety and fear, let’s define exactly what these terms really mean, by looking at the following professional titles:

  1. Psychologist
  2. Psychiatrist
  3. Counselor
  4. Therapist, and
  5. Psychotherapist

what is psychologist

1. What is a Psychologist?

By definition, a psychologist is “someone who studies the human mind and human emotions and behavior, and how different situations have an effect on people.” However, in the U.S., as in many other countries, there are certain requirements that need to be met before the average-sounding “someone” can promote themselves as a psychologist.

Psychologists: Professional Training & Licensing

Psychologists practicing in the U.S. usually require the minimum of a Master’s degree in Psychology to achieve this professional title. In rare cases, it might include Bachelor’s degree holders. Regardless, they will have at least 6 years of university training and supervised experience. If they hold a Doctorate (Ph.D.), a psychologist can formally call themselves ‘Dr’, but it must be stressed that they are not medical doctors.  Furthermore, clinical psychologists undergo additional, specialist training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. In the vast majority of cases, the duly qualified person needs to be formally licensed by a state board to provide psychological therapy. As a state-licensed psychologist, they must adhere to high standards, as set by the state, in terms of their professional ethics and strict confidentiality. With state licensing, a psychologist can now set up a private practice involving direct “talk therapy” with clients. Additionally, they can teach professionally at a college or university or can be a leader or part of a team conducting psychological research for a university or private company.

Psychologists: Professional Treatments

Psychologists use a range of researched-based psychological behavioral approaches to treat their clients. Furthermore, they can clinically assess and evaluate the mental health of their clients, diagnose mental illness, and advise on the best course of treatment for the client – based upon up-to-date clinical research in the field of psychology.

Psychologists: Clients

Psychologists usually see people with conditions that can be helped effectively with psychological, “talk therapy” treatments, which includes behavioral problems, learning difficulties, depression and anxiety.

Psychologists: Appointments

A psychologist is not a medical doctor, and, therefore, potential clients do not need to be referred by their family doctor/physician.

What is a Psychiatrist

2. What is a Psychiatrist?

Unlike psychologists, a psychiatrist is, in fact, a medical doctor – they have attended medical school and become medical doctors before doing specialist training, eg. clinical psychiatry, in mental health. Therefore, they can prescribe an appropriate course of medication to help their patients – psychologists can not do this Psychiatrists diagnose mental illness, manage a patient’s treatment, and can provide a wide range of therapies for serious and complex mental illness or illnesses. Because psychiatrists are medical doctors, they understand the links between mental and physical problems

Psychiatrists: Professional Training

Psychiatrists have at least 11 years of training (it’s usually more). First of all, they will study for a medical degree at university, just like a psychologist studies a degree in psychology. Then, it’s at least 1-2 years training as a general doctor. After successfully completing this, they then have to complete at least 5 years training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. 

Psychiatrists: Professional Treatments

 Psychiatrists can provide a wide range of treatments, according to the mental health issue involved, including:

  • Prescription medication
  • General medical care, including checking your physical health and the effects of medication
  • Psychological treatments, and
  • Brain stimulation therapies, such as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)

Psychiatrists: Patients

Their patients, who need all their medical, psychological, and social needs to be considered, are usually those with complex, difficult mental health disorders, such as severe depression (major depressive disorder), schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder. Anyone who has attempted suicide or has suicidal ideation (thoughts about committing suicide)  will usually be seen by a psychiatrist.

Psychiatrists: Appointments

Because a psychiatrist is a medical specialist, potential patients would require a referral from their family doctor/physician). Important: Psychiatrists and psychologists do often work together. For example, a psychiatrist makes an initial assessment and diagnosis, then refers the patient to a psychologist for ongoing psychological treatment – talk therapy. Additionally, psychiatrists and psychologists can also work together in hospitals as part of mental health teams.

What is a Counselor

3. What is a Counselor?

The professional title of “counselor” is a very broad term, and can mean a licensed clinician, with advanced-standard degrees, like a  PhD, or it can mean, in very general terms, those who offer other forms of counseling – for example, a “life coach” may refer to themselves as a counselor. However, as a broad concept, a counselor gives professional guidance on personal or psychological problems.

  • Mental Health Counselors: Mental health counselors help patients to achieve emotional wellbeing, and often see their patients/clients on an ongoing basis as a singular part of an overall treatment plan. Mental health counselors can work with a diverse range of patients, and will normally specialize in particular areas, such as trauma, children and youth services, or addiction/substance abuse.

Counselors: Professional Training

Unlike psychiatrists and psychologists, counselors do not require the same level of advanced training/university qualifications or state licensure to operate. In fact, it is often said that counselors do not have the in-depth understanding provided by clinical research found in the fields of medical therapy and psychology.

  • Professional Accreditation: Through the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC), counselors can acquire professional certification – a voluntary credential that demonstrates to potential clients and employers that the individual has met the national standards set by the counseling profession.

Counselors: Appointments

A counselor is not a medical doctor, and, therefore, potential clients do not need to be referred by their family doctor/physician.

4. What is a Therapist?

As mentioned previously, a therapist can have many different meanings. To assist in resolving this issue, some U.S. states, like California, protect the professional title of “therapist” by requiring the individual to have licensure to operate. However, this is not universal; in the states where this term is not legally protected, the term “therapist” can include life coaches and others who may not have the same kind of licensure and degree requirements. Therapists, as a professional title, and who use a behavioral approach to therapy, can include a wide array of:

  • Psychologists
  • Licensed Social Workers
  • Counselors, and
  • Marriage and Family Therapists

Therapist: Professional Training

Different degrees can offer routes to the protected title of a therapist, such as:

  • Master in Psychology
  • Master in Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Master of Social Work
  • Master in Counseling or a
  • Doctorate (Ph.D.) in any of those fields

Therapist: Appointments

A therapist is not a medical doctor, and, therefore, potential clients do not need to be referred by their family doctor/physician.

Psychologist vs Therapist addiction recovery

5. What is a Psychotherapist?

Psychotherapists predominantly work with private clients who are affected by the milder mental health and behavioral issues, such as depression, stress, anxiety, phobias, emotional / relationship problems, and physical or psychosomatic disorders (caused or aggravated by a mental factor such as internal conflict or stress). Psychotherapy is also called psychological therapy or “talk therapy”, and, much like a psychologist or counselor, is the use of psychological methods to help a person alter the problematic mental health disorder or behavioral issue. Additionally, certain psychotherapies are evidence-based and proven in the treatment of several diagnosed mental health disorders. The term “psychotherapist” can refer to several variations of mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, mental health nurses, clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, or professional counselors. Therefore, depending on which U.S. state that they practice professionally in, they can be either regulated, voluntarily regulated or unregulated (and, as described earlier with therapists, the term itself may be protected or not).

The Mental Spectrum of Anxiety & Fear

Being fearful is a natural human response to danger, borne out of the need for survival. A perfectly normal human reaction. The chemical element of that reaction – a rapid production of adrenaline – is designed to aid our decision to the following question: Run or fight? To flee the imperative danger, or to face it, full-on? Feeling fear over an extended period can, however, result in feelings of anxiety. If this continues unchecked, it can lead to a state of constant anxiety – a clinical, diagnosable anxiety disorder. Furthermore, the fear of a certain something, eg. drowning or snakes, can actually lead to a phobia – the extreme or irrational fear of one danger, in particular. Understanding what causes fear, understanding why that then causes anxiety, and how both states, though distinctly separate, are often interlinked, is part of the process of a successful resolution – and many people, quite rightly, will turn to a mental health professional, like those described previously, to assist them with this process.

Anxiety & Fear: What’s The Difference?

Anxiety, the state of being anxious – either periodically or seemingly constantly – is the natural response to an unknown or poorly defined threat that is not immediate, but expected to happen at some point in the near future.  Fear, however, is the natural response to a known or comprehensible threat, and usually happens very quickly when the full realization of a dangerous situation becomes apparent. Both responses – anxiety and fear – produce similar psychological, emotional, and physical* reactions in a normal person, and can even occur simultaneously. However, many psychology experts believe that is where any similarities end. *Physical reactions, a major characteristic of the physiological response to danger, include:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Muscle tension
  • Breathlessness, and
  • Adrenalin rush

This physical response is preparing our bodies to either “fight or flight” – our inbuilt “survival stress response.” Without this, we wouldn’t be alert to the imminent danger, possibly resulting in serious harm or injury or even death. Our current perception of the physical, emotional or psychological harm that may come to us is what drives fear. However, given certain circumstances, we can become scared and fearful of almost anything – a phobia.

Anxiety mental health disorder

Anxiety: From a Natural Response to a Mental Health Disorder

If a person regularly feels disproportionate levels of anxiety, and it is left untreated, it can result in the development of a clinically-recognized mental health disorder, way out of proportion to the instigating stressor or catalyst that began the anxiety. Defined by an individual “having recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns,” and leading to “excessive nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry,” anxiety disorders can seriously disrupt your daily function, your mood and emotions, and your normal behavior. It can even lead to uncomfortable physical symptoms.

Anxiety Prevalence in the U.S.

Anxiety forms the most common group of mental health disorders, and, in the U.S., nearly 20% (that’s 1 in 5 adults, and numbering 40 million people) are experiencing it right now. However, its treatment rate is low – only 36.9% of people with an anxiety disorder will actually receive the professional treatment they require.

Common Anxiety Disorders

The most common anxiety disorders suffered within the U.S. are clinically classified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders: 5th. Ed. (DSM-V) as follows:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): A chronic disorder involving long-lasting anxiety and worries about nonspecific life events, objects, and situations – hence, generalized. Easily the most common anxiety disorder, GAD sufferers are not always able to identify the exact cause of their anxiety.

Symptoms of GAD often include:

    • Restlessness – a constant feeling of being “on-edge”
    • Uncontrollable worry
    • Increased irritability
    • Cognitive and concentration issues, and
    • Poor sleep quality, such as in falling or staying asleep
  • Panic disorder: Sudden attacks of intense terror and apprehension when no real danger is present, and usually brief in nature. Such attacks make you feel as if you’re losing control, and can lead to:
    • Chest/abdominal pain
    • Increased heart rate
    • Shaking/trembling
    • Confusion
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea, and 
    • Shortness of breath, even hyperventilation
  • Social anxiety disorder (social phobia): An irrational fear of negative judgment from others in social situations. The disorder includes feelings such as “stage fright,” a fear of intimacy, and anxiety related to either rejection or humiliation. Such fears can make people avoid public situations, thus ensuring everyday living is extremely difficult.

Anxiety: Physical Symptoms

Anxiety can lead to much more than simply being constantly worried about something on your mind; it can lead to a number of diverse physical symptoms, highly uncomfortable to live with, and resulting in numerous problems with daily life. These can include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Muscle pain and tension
  • Chest pain
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Upset stomach and/or nausea
  • Excessive sweating
  • Shaking and trembling
  • Headaches
  • Sleep disturbances

mental health insurance

Does Insurance Cover Mental Health Therapy in Boise, ID.?

Health insurance coverage or not? Always the big question for the majority of families and individuals. Even though mental health is considered just as important as physical health, and is supported by legislation contained in the “mental health parity law” (full title: the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity & Addiction Equity Act, 2008), the comprehensive answer lies with the health insurance provider concerned, as many will vary from policy to policy. In short, it’s always better to check. However, the parity law requires that coverage of services for mental health, behavioral health, and substance use disorders (SUDs) should be comparable to physical health, ie. medical and surgical, coverage. For example, an insurance provider can’t charge you a $40 copay for visiting a mental health professional if it only charges you a $20 copay for a medical or surgical office visit. The law applies to the following types of health insurance:

  • Employer-sponsored health coverage (for employers with 50 or more employees)
  • Health insurance exchange coverage (created under “Obamacare” – the Affordable Care Act)
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and
  • Most Medicaid* programs (check with the state Medicaid director)

*Medicare, unlike Medicaid, is not covered by the parity law.

ashwood recovery logo

How We Can Help: Ashwood Recovery’s “Promise”

Based in Boise, Idaho, Ashwood Recovery’s “Promise” is a highly structured and personalized outpatient program for people whose primary diagnosis is mental health-related, eg. an anxiety disorder.  Our “Promise” Program:The program provides mental health education, trauma work, experiential activities, art therapy, yoga/thai chi, skill building, process group, goal building and evaluation, and music therapy. Clients have daily contact with medical staff (RN) and a psychiatrist, as needed, along with medication management with non-addictive forming medications, if required. All of the groups mentioned above are facilitated by licensed Master-level clinicians. Our Program Schedule: These program groups run in hour-long time frames from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. (with an hour lunch from 12 p.m. – 1 p.m.), and then again from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

If you are looking for mental health professionals in Boise, Idaho, look no further.

We are not only a bricks-and-mortar mental health facility – We provide our services online!