215.804.9487 [email protected]

Keith Karabin, BADASS: Working Title




[Rant Mode: Active]

Identity. We all have one. Our “identities…give meaning and guidance” to our lives according to a Princeton University study. These priceless compasses of life are cobbled together from internal data, social detritus and the heartfelt reflections of our loved ones. 

I’m currently puzzling over something in the “social detritus” category, that of professional title. This one comes up a lot at parties. “I am a Petroleum Distribution Consultant,” or “I am a Intermediate Provision Facilitator,” or “I am a Multi-disciplinary Sanitation Engineer.” I can’t attest to ever having dubbed myself with such titles, though I have been a gas station attendant, convenience store clerk and janitor. Those titles helped inform my role and expectations to myself and those I served.

Some of you may have noticed that I recently changed my “As a Psychotherapist” page to “As a Counselor.” This was a response to my field’s seemingly vacilitory perspective on the two titles. I was taught that I shouldn’t call myself a counselor because I may be confused with a Licensed Professional Counselor. This was four years ago while obtaining my Master’s Degree in Christian Counseling. Yet, currently, a friend working towards a similar degree was told that the field is moving away from titles like psychotherapist and embracing counselor. I’m never one to bow to popular opinion, but I’m always one to err on the side of caution when ethical or legal misrepresentation are on the line. 

Beware The Frustrated Whosits!

Alright, are your eyes glazing over? I don’t want this to get overly technical, so I’ll hit you with some emotion; I’m frustrated. Not gibbering and frothing at the mouth, but frustrated. This is the third time that I’ve tried to answer the question “What am I?” First was right after I graduated. I read so many conflicting reports that I gave up. Some said psychotherapist, some said counselor. I wasn’t working in the field, so I put it off. Next was while building this site. I didn’t want to misrepresent myself, but my new research still deemed the titles essentially interchangeable yet different. I picked what seemed most correct since, according to a lengthy article at Psyche Central, “Master’s level therapists are usually trained in psychotherapy techniques [and] become general psychotherapists.” Simple, right? Sure, except that the description is under the heading Counselor.

Counselor Link, another psychologically focused website, declared that “the interchangeable use of the terms typically sparks neither controversy nor confusion.” Maybe that’s true for clients, but as a member of the field, I’m raising a hand as confused.

All I’m seeking, and have sought for over four years, is a concrete professional title. As the internet only netted frustration, I went so far as to contact the Pennsylvania Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors and the Pennsylvania Board of Psychology for a clear answer. So far only the Board of Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Professional Counselors has responded. Their “Privileged and Confidential Attorney-Client Communication,” as it was marked in red, was that “you can call yourself anything.” Except anything that had the word “licensed” in it. Excellent, based on State legal counsel I shall heretofore refer to myself as a Behavioral Adaptation and Dogmatic Adjustment System Specialist. Now there’s some credentials at the end of your name. Keith Karabin, BADASS.

I stumbled upon a patch of solid ground amid the mire when a Psychlinks forum put the distinction, and the debate into focus “There may be quite a bit of overlap…however…while a psychotherapist is qualified to provide counseling, a counselor may or may not possess the necessary training and skills to provide psychotherapy.” That made sense, and brought the issue back to where it is most important to me; not misleading a present or future client as to my skill set or focus. A phlebotomist and a comic book artist both draw blood, but one title connotates a whole different skill set and focus than another.

I am What I am, and That’s All That I am

“Identity, itself, matters” as proven by a comprehensively complex Stanford University article. We know this is true, but the endless debate within the psychological community fails to reflect it on a professional level. Which frustrates me. A great deal of this vaguery and frustration could be mitigated, with a simple, coherent, well-advertised, state or nationally run website which connects a set of skills with a professional title. This would help practitioners and clients. If I’m a client who needs some guidance, I know to seek a counselor. If I’m a client who needs guidance, and believes that, on some level, I may need to work out some past issues, then I seek a psychotherapist. Also, it would help clients understand what they’re in for. I have heard many stories which involve sitting down across from an over-educated, ill-matched clinician who gave people complex answers to simple problems. In the end, both parties felt foolish.

In all my internet research I came across a wonderful gem of wisdom on Psychlinks, for those of us attempting to find the right professional identity, or those seeking to identify the right professional. Relate yourself, or your needs, to this simple illustration and you will have your answer.

A client sits down and says: “I’m afraid someone is outside the door listening to us.” A counselor opens the door to take a look. A therapist explores why the client believes this.

I would hope that I have the counseling horse-sense to do the former. I know, from my previous experience, that my first instinct is to do the latter. I “posses the necessary training and skills” to do the latter.

However, I shall continue to refer to myself as a counselor until I hear back from the Board of Psychology. I have no emotional investment in either title. I do not wish to upset my colleagues misrepresent myself or lead clients astray. I seek to do the opposite. Thus, I am content as a counselor.

That is, unless I stick with Keith Karabin, BADASS.

It is pretty cool.


[Rant Mode: Deactivated]

Comments are closed.