Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Psychologist?

Psychologists with doctoral degrees (either a PhD or PsyD) receive one of the highest levels of education of all health care professionals, spending an average of seven years in education and training after they receive their undergraduate degrees. Coursework includes areas such as ethics, statistics, abnormal psychology, biopsychology,  individual differences and the biological, cognitive-affective and social bases of behavior, as well as specific training in psychological assessment and therapy. Clinical Psychologists are well trained in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders and have a medical model aspect to their training. To be licensed as a Psychologist, the professional must have completed the required doctoral degree, passed the rigorous National Licensing Exam, and completed the required pre- and post-doctoral supervised training hours under the supervision of more experienced Licensed Psychologists. By the time someone actually gets licensed, they average about 8,000-10,000 hours of supervised doctoral level training in understanding and treating mental health issues. Just because someone has a Ph.D. behind their name and calls themselves “Dr.” does NOT mean they are a “Psychologist”, or have gone through all the hard work and training to get licensed at that level. Some providers are licensed at the masters level, and then call themselves “doctors” after earning online doctorates and completing no training at the doctoral level. At WMCC, our Doctors are all Licensed Psychologists and have completed American Psychological Association accredited doctoral programs and pre-doctoral internships.

What is a Psychiatrist?

A Psychiatrist is a physician, a medical doctor that specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. A psychiatrist has completed medical school and holds an M.D. (Doctor of Medicine) degree or a D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine) degree. In Residency, he or she received specialized training in the field of psychiatry. As physicians, psychiatrists have achieved a rigorous medical education and abide by the medical traditions of professional ethics and medical responsibility for providing comprehensive care.

In order to obtain a license to practice medicine, physicians must a pass the United States Medical Licensing Exam, a multi-part professional exam sponsored by the Federation of State Medical Boards and the National Board of Medical Examiners. Psychiatrists must then complete at least 4 years of accredited residency training, including a minimum of 3 years in psychiatry.

Board certification

After completing educational and examination requirements, psychiatrists may seek certification from the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (ABPN). The ABPN is a member of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). Board certified psychiatrists have achieved the highest level of education and training possible in the field of psychiatry.

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) who provide care to patients throughout the lifespan, from premature newborns to the elderly. They have continued their education to the graduate level, earning master’s degree and speciality board certifications in the respective fields.

They can perform comprehensive and focused physical examinations; diagnose and treat common acute illnesses and injuries; provide immunizations; manage high blood pressure, diabetes, depression and other chronic health problems; order and interpret diagnostic tests such as X-rays and EKGs, as well as laboratory tests; prescribe medications and therapies; perform procedures; and educate and counsel patients and their families regarding healthy lifestyles and health care options.

APRN’s can prescribe medications, including controlled substances, in all 50 states. In 26 states including Hawaii, NPs have authority to practice independently without being under the supervision of a physician. APRN’s are highly qualified medical professionals, and their training encourages them to take into account the health of the whole person, and they obtain rigorous medical training and must pass licensure and board certification exams and requirements before be licensed as an APRN.

What makes WMCC unique?

What makes West Maui Counseling Center unique is that, we meet as a team and collaborate regarding our patient’s care. We believe that better care is delivered when the clinician who is prescribing medications talks regularly with the clinician who is providing psychotherapy. Another special approach we are able to use at WMCC is to collaborate when multiple family members are seeing our therapists individually, but at times may need a couples or family session. A common example is when we see two spouses for individual therapy: instead of making the couple go see another therapist for couples work, we will often have conjoint sessions with both spouses and both individual therapists to work on improving the relationship. The same is true when, for example, a child is being seen by our child psychologist and a parent is working with another WMCC Provider. The team approach is patient centered, focused on how we can work together to help give our patients the best care available on Maui.

Why is working from a treatment team approach better for patient care?

We believe that patients get better care when their doctors and other health care providers ACTUALLY TALK TO EACH OTHER ABOUT THE PATIENT’S CARE. People who are struggling with mental health symptoms often have difficulty getting up the courage to pick up the phone and reach out for help, let alone finding enough energy to navigate multiple appointments with different providers at different offices in a complex health care system. It is our goal to minimize the distress and unnecessary use of our patients’ precious supply of energy by creating a place where people can come to receive quality psychotherapy, medication management, biofeedback, and integrate primary medical care as needed to holistically and effectively treat mental health issues and better manage stress. The patient’s effort should be focused on treatment, not navigating the dysfunction of the health care system.

The mind body connection is in fact, a scientific truth and we have adjusted our treatment approach to make it most beneficial to the patient. By addressing the underlying physiological, sociological, and psychological sequelae to illness, we see the clinical picture of the whole person. Recovering from any mental illness takes effort, why should the patient have to exert unnecessary energy getting their therapist to talk to their primary care doc or psychiatrist, etc? We have a team that can care for the entire person, psychology, psychiatry, and primary medical care as needed, honoring the mind/body connection.

What do I do if I don't feel a good fit with the first provider I see?

At West Maui Counseling Center  it is MOST important to us that our patients get what they need. Because our providers are all of high quality, it usually works out with the first person you see. However, sometimes it doesn’t, and that’s ok! First, talk to  your doctor about your feelings of discomfort, what is not working for you, or why you feel like it’s not a good fit. Sometimes, as therapy progresses it can feel uncomfortable, reactions to your therapist can be a very normal part of the therapeutic process, and can be worked through in a therapeutic way, actually allowing you to progress even further. If you are not comfortable talking to your provider, then email Dr. Harnick at and discuss the situation. As the practice director, Dr. Harnick will make sure to listen to your concerns, connect you to the right provider for you, and create the best plan of action. Don’t be discouraged if it isn’t a good fit with the first person you see. Sometimes it’s just about fit. All of us at WMCC care most about the PATIENT, not our own egos 🙂 Sometimes we need to switch therapists for various reasons, which can be a very healthy thing. Each of us have different areas of expertise and we work as a team, so even seeing another provider for a short time to learn new skills or get a different perspective is also a healthy thing, and a special benefit of being seen by our team at WMCC.

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