FAQ Index

Glossary of Treatment Terms

Glossary of Mental Health Professionals
Behjat Shirazi, MA, LPCC
Shirazi Counseling
6666 Fourth St. NW
Albuquerque, NM 87107
Phone: (505) 263-0821


Monday - Friday:
12:00 noon - 6:00 PM
10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
(two Saturdays per month)

For appointments please call (505) 263-0821

Accepted Insurance   Billing & Payment  Forms to bring to your first visit

Portions of this page were adapted from material provided by SAMHSA's National Mental Health Information Center.
Glossary credits: with material provided by SAMHSA's National Mental Health Information Center; Behjat Shirazi.

Frequently Asked Questions

What's with all the little figures?
Sandplay, Sand Tray Therapy, The World Technique are all names given to a non-verbal expressive play therapy used mostly for therapy with children, but also with adolescents, adults, families, couples and groups. Sand Tray Therapy was Developed by Margaret Lowenfeld, Goesta Harding, De Domenico, Charlotte Buehler, Bolgar, Fisher, Ruth Bowyer, and Dora Kalff. Sandplay is a process of creative expression using trays of sand and miniature objects to create the many worlds of your inner reality. The sandtrays act as mirrors in which you can see and heal the burdens, issues and conflicts of your inner life, connect to the longings of your soul, and see the beauty and power of your true self.
More about Sand Play/Sand Tray Therapy

Do you take insurance?  Yes. Here is a list of Accepted Insurance plans.

What kind of experience do you have?
I have been a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor since 1994. I work with children and adolescents ages 8 and up, families, including same gender parents, individual adults and couples. Since 1995I Have worked as a Professional School Counselor and presently as a Family Counselor with the Albuquerque School District. My experience as a Therapist/Counselor goes back to 1976 in California and New Mexico directing programs for adolescents in group homes, coordinating direct services to survivors of Domestic Violence, counseling with Native American student and other area of mental health field. As an Iranian immigrant, I am bilingual in English and Farsi, and highly skilled in working with diverse and multicultural populations.

What kinds of services do you offer?
I offer a wide range of services including counseling Adult and Adolescent, Individuals, Couples, Families, skill based counseling and education, parenting education, Employee Assistance Counseling, and Mediation.

Are there any specific approaches you use to help people?
I utilize an array of therapeutic methods such as cognitive-behavioral and Solution-Focused, skilled based education, interactive methods such as Sand tray and art, Gestalt, family systems, and any other modality that will best meet the needs of my clients. My primary concern is to meet the cultural and unique needs of individuals and families.

Do you work with kids? Teens? Adults?  Yes. Here is a list of  Populations Served.

Do you do group therapy? Couples therapy?
I serve family groups, including non-traditional families, and couples, including same-gender couples.

Do you specialize in any particular diagnosis or problems?
My areas of specialization include Anger Management, Women's Issues, Relationship Issues, pervasive childhood disorders, anxiety, depression, School Related Issues and Parenting Education.

When should I seek therapy?
People choose to seek psychotherapy for very personal reasons. Often they look for a therapist at times of family or personal crisis. The choice to seek a therapist is a sign of personal and emotional strength. The recommended times to seek therapy are when one is experiencing the following:

  • Undue, prolonged anxiety related to life events, marriage, divorce, death, parenthood, blended family issues, retirement, aging process, adolescence, etc.
  • Chronic physical illness caused by tension and stress
  • Depression or mood swings
  • School problems or employment issues
  • Loneliness
  • Difficulties in relationships
  • Problems following traumatic events such as accidents, childhood abuse, death, experience of loss
  • Problems with domestic violence or other forms of abuse
  • Stress in the face of chronic or terminal illness or other health problems
  • Constant worries or obsessions
  • Excessive anger, frustration, or guilt with no resolution
  • Self-destructive thoughts and behavior, such as eating disorders, self injury, suicidal or homicidal thoughts
  • Abuse of Alcohol and other drugs
How do I know I'm choosing the right therapist?
At some point in our lives, we all run into problems that seem too big or too persistent to handle alone. Yet our pride and fears can get in the way of asking for help. Making the decision to find help is a sign of strength and courage. And help is available. In fact, it can make the difference between feeling that things are spinning out of control and gaining new tools to turn life around in positive ways.

Having taken that crucial first step to seek help, you may have some questions about therapy. You may wonder, for example, about sharing information that is very private - will it be kept confidential? What is the best way to go about finding the right therapist?

You can rest assured that all mental health professionals are ethically bound to keep what you say during therapy confidential. However, therapists also are bound by law to report information such as threats to blow up a building or to harm another person, for example.

Therapy is a collaborative process, so finding the right match - someone with whom you have a sense of rapport - is critical. You may have to shop around before you find someone you are comfortable with. After you find someone, keep in mind that therapy is work and sometimes can be painful. But it also can be rewarding and life changing.

Whether you seek help from a marriage and family therapist, a social worker, a psychologist, a psychiatric nurse, or a psychiatrist, the steps to choosing the right mental health practitioner for you will basically be the same.

  1. See your primary care physician to rule out a medical cause of your problems. If your thyroid is "sluggish," for example, your symptoms - such as loss of appetite and fatigue - could be mistaken for depression.
  2. After you know your problems are not caused by a medical condition, find out what the mental health coverage is under your insurance policy or through Medicaid/Medicare. Many employer-sponsored insurance policies have limits on mental health services and may cover only 50 percent of the costs of a fixed number of visits per year.
  3. Get two or three referrals before making an appointment. Specify age, sex, race, or religious background if those characteristics are important to you. Your primary care physician and/or your faith leader probably knows mental health care workers in your area. Also, ask friends, colleagues, neighbors, and family members for referrals. Chances are you will find that several people in your circle of acquaintances have been, or are, in therapy and can refer you to a competent therapist. You may also review the therapists listed in the Provider Directory at www.Network, which may serve as an excellent resource in building your referral list.
  4. Call to find out about appointment availability, location, and fees. Many mental health professionals schedule evening appointments so you do not have to miss work. Selecting a therapist whose office is easy to get to - either from work or home - also can make a difference in your progress toward improved mental health. Ask the receptionist:
    • Does the mental health professional offer a sliding-scale fee based on income?
    • Does he or she accept your health insurance or Medicaid/Medicare?
  5. Make sure the therapist has experience helping people whose problems are similar to yours. You may want to ask the receptionist about the therapist's expertise, education, and number of years in practice.
  6. If you are satisfied with the answers, make an appointment.
  7. During your first visit, describe those feelings and problems that led you to seek help. Find out:
    • What kind of therapy/treatment program he or she recommends;
    • If it has proven effective for dealing with problems such as yours;
    • What the benefits and side effects are;
    • How much therapy the mental health professional recommends; and
    • If he or she is willing to coordinate your care with another practitioner if you are personally interested in exploring credible alternative therapies, such as acupuncture.
  8. Different psychotherapies and medications are tailored to meet specific needs. Be sure the psychotherapist does not take a "cookie cutter" approach to your treatment - what works for one person with major depression does not necessarily work for another. The best therapists will work with you to create a treatment program - perhaps using a single approach, perhaps incorporating several different ones - that works for you.
  9. Although the role of a therapist is not to be a friend, rapport is a critical element of successful therapy. After your initial visit, take some time to explore how you felt about the therapist. For example:
    • Was he or she someone with whom you felt comfortable?
    • Did he or she listen?
    • Did he or she seem to understand your concerns and address them?
    • Is this a person you feel you can trust?
    • Did he or she seem knowledgeable about your problem and suggest a therapy/treatment program that suits you?
    • Was the "chemistry" right?
  10. If the answers to these questions and others you may come up with are "yes," schedule another appointment to begin the process of working together to understand and overcome your problems. If the answers are "no," call another mental health professional from your referral list and schedule another appointment.
Do I have to pick the kind of therapy and treatment?
Mental health professionals use a variety of approaches to give people new tools to deal with ingrained, troublesome patterns of behavior and to help them manage symptoms of mental illness. The best therapists will work with you to determine a treatment plan that will be most effective for you. This sometimes involves a single method or it may involve elements of several different ones, often referred to as an "eclectic approach" to therapy. Keep in mind that new research can yield rapid and dramatic changes in our understanding of, and approaches to, mental disorders. The Glossary of Treatment Terms below provides brief descriptions of the methods mental health professionals most commonly use.

Glossary of Treatment Terms

Behavioral Therapy  As the name implies, this approach focuses on behavior - changing unwanted behaviors through rewards, reinforcements, and desensitization. Desensitization is a process of confronting something that arouses anxiety, discomfort, or fear and overcoming the unwanted responses. Someone whose fear of germs leads to excessive washing, for example, may be trained to relax and not wash his or her hands after touching a public doorknob. Behavioral therapy often involves the cooperation of others, especially family and close friends, to reinforce a desired behavior.

Biomedical Treatment   Medication alone, or in combination with psychotherapy, has proven to be an effective treatment for a number of emotional, behavioral, and mental disorders. The kind of medication a psychiatrist prescribes varies with the disorder and the individual being treated. For example, some people who suffer from anxiety, bipolar disorder, major depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorders, and schizophrenia find their symptoms improve dramatically through careful monitoring of appropriate medication.

Cognitive Therapy  This method aims to identify and correct distorted thinking patterns that can lead to feelings and behaviors that may be troublesome, self-defeating, or even self-destructive. The goal is to replace such thinking with a more balanced view that, in turn, leads to more fulfilling and productive behavior. Consider the person who will not apply for a promotion on the assumption that it is beyond reach, for example. With cognitive therapy, the next time a promotion comes up that person might still initially think, "I won't get that position..." but then immediately add, "unless I show my boss what a good job I would do."

Cognitive-Behavioral  A combination of cognitive and behavioral therapies, this approach helps people change negative thought patterns, beliefs, and behaviors so they can manage symptoms and enjoy more productive, less stressful lives.

Couples Counseling and FamilyTherapy  These two similar approaches to therapy involve discussions and problem-solving sessions facilitated by a therapist - sometimes with the couple or entire family group, sometimes with individuals. Such therapy can help couples and family members improve their understanding of, and the way they respond to, one another. This type of therapy can resolve patterns of behavior that might lead to more severe mental illness. Family therapy may be very useful with children and adolescents who are experiencing problems.

Coping with serious mental illness is hard on marriages and families. Family therapy can help educate the individuals about the nature of the disorder and teach them skills to cope better with the effects of having a family member with a mental illness - such as how to deal with feelings of anger or guilt. In addition, family therapy can help members identify and reduce factors that may trigger or worsen the disorder.

Group Therapy  This form of therapy involves groups of usually 4 to 12 people who have similar problems and who meet regularly with a therapist. The therapist uses the emotional interactions of the group's members to help them get relief from distress and possibly modify their behavior.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy  Through one-on-one conversations, this approach focuses on the patient's current life and relationships within the family, social, and work environments. The goal is to identify and resolve problems with insight, as well as build on strengths.

Light Therapy   Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that appears related to fluctuations in the exposure to natural light. It usually strikes during autumn and often continues through the winter when natural light is reduced. Researchers have found that people who have SAD can be helped with the symptoms of their illness if they spend blocks of time bathed in light from a special full-spectrum light source, called a "light box."

Psychoanalysis   This approach focuses on past conflicts as the underpinnings to current emotional and behavioral problems. In this long-term and intensive therapy, an individual meets with a psychoanalyst three to five times a week, using "free association" to explore unconscious motivations and earlier, unproductive patterns of resolving issues.

Psychodynamic Psychotherapy   Based on the principles of psychoanalysis, this therapy is less intense, tends to occur once or twice a week, and spans a shorter time. It is based on the premise that human behavior is determined by one's past experiences, genetic factors, and current situation. This approach recognizes the significant influence that emotions and unconscious motivation can have on human behavior.

Sand Play/Sand Tray Therapy   It is a therapeutic method developed by Dora M. Kalff, in Zollikon, Switzerland. It is based on the psychological principles of C.G.Jung. Sand play is a creative form of therapy using the imagination, "a concentrated extract of the life forces both physical and psychic." (C.G.Jung) It is characterized by the use of sand, water and miniatures and figurines which represent the natural, mystic, folk, social, family and other elements in ones life, in the creation of images within a "free and protected space" of the therapeutic relationship and the sand tray. A series of Sand play images portrayed in the sand tray create an ongoing dialogue between the conscious and the unconscious aspects of the client's psyche, which activates a healing process and the development of the personality. This therapeutic method may be successfully applied to individual work with both adults and children.

Glossary of Mental Health Professionals

Psychiatrists   A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in mental disorders, is licensed to practice medicine, and has completed a year of internship and three years of specialty training. A board-certified psychiatrist has, in addition, practiced for at least two years and passed the written and oral examinations of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Psychiatrists can evaluate and diagnose all types of mental disorders, carry out biomedical treatments and psychotherapy, and work with psychological problems associated with medical disorders. Like other medical doctors, they can prescribe medication. Child psychiatrists specialize in working with children; geriatric psychiatrists concentrate on helping the aged.

Psychologists   Psychologists who conduct psychotherapy and work with individuals, groups, or families to resolve problems generally are called clinical or counseling psychologists. They work in many settings - for example, mental health centers, hospitals and clinics, schools, employee assistance programs, and private practice. In most states, a licensed clinical psychologist has completed a doctoral degree from a university program with specialized training and experience requirements and has successfully completed a professional licensure examination.

The field of psychology also includes those who specialize in such areas as testing, community organization, industrial relations, and laboratory research.

Clinical Social Workers   Clinical social workers have master's or doctoral degrees in social work, at least two years of post-graduate experience in a supervised clinical setting, and have passed an examination required for state licensure. In addition to individual, family, and group counseling and psychotherapy, they are trained in client-centered advocacy. This includes information, referral, direct intervention with governmental and civic agencies, and expansion of community resources.

Marriage and Family Therapists   Marriage and Family Therapist are state licensed as counselors to provide psychotherapy and counseling for families, couples, groups, and individuals. They have at least a master's degree, two years of supervised post-degree experience, and have passed a state comprehensive examination. Therapists with other licenses may also be qualified to conduct marriage and family therapy.

Professional Clinical Counselors   Professional Clinical Counselors have at least a master's degree, two years of supervised clinical experience, and have passed an examination required for state licensure. In states without licensure or certification laws, professional counselors are certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). They provide quality mental health and substance abuse care to individuals, families, groups and organizations. They may be trained in a variety of therapeutic techniques and approaches.

Psychiatric Nurses   Psychiatric nursing is a specialized area of professional nursing practice that is concerned with prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of mental-health-related problems. These nurses are registered professional nurses, and those who have advanced academic degrees at the master's degree level or above can become advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). APRNs are qualified to practice independently and provide the full range of primary mental health care services to individuals, families, groups and communities. In most states, psychiatric nurses in advanced practice have the authority to prescribe medication.

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