October 25, 2019

By Marcy Sugar

By Kathy Mitchell

October 25, 2019 5 min read

Dear Annie: I am Protestant, and my husband was baptized in the Catholic Church, but religion was never important to him or his family. Neither of us has converted, nor will we. My husband has attended services with me, and I have attended the occasional holiday Mass with my in-laws. I respect their faith.

Here's the problem: My mother-in-law apparently thought I would convert as soon as I joined the family. This has been a huge problem for her. Because I respect her faith, I have tried to follow the rules while at Mass, and that means I do not take communion. This bothers my mother-in-law to no end. She finds it offensive.

There is likely to be a Catholic funeral that I will have to attend soon. I do not want to create a scene or cause my mother-in-law more unhappiness, but I also do not wish to offend the rest of the family or the church by deliberately ignoring the prohibition to take communion. How do I proceed? — Trying To Be Respectful

Dear Trying: We think your mother-in-law's problem is that she still wants you to convert, and acting offended because you do not take communion is how she expresses it. It might help if her priest discusses this with her directly. Please make an appointment to talk to him. But it might also be useful for your husband to make it abundantly clear to his mother that conversion is not going to happen and she needs to back off before she alienates both of you.

Dear Annie: I am responding to the letter from "L.," who asked what happens in counseling.

The only licensed individual who can prescribe medication is a psychiatrist who is an MD with a specialty in psychiatry. There has been legislation in the state of Florida to allow licensed psychologists the authority to write prescriptions, but that has not yet been passed into law.

Psychologists and psychoanalysts are the same thing, but psychoanalysts practice a very specific type of intervention. A licensed clinical social worker can use the title "psychotherapist," as can any licensed psychologist. Any of these individuals can also call themselves counselors. If you practice counseling, but do not have a degree or license, you can call yourself a "life coach." This is an unregulated field, but many of them do the same thing as counselors. — Florida State University

Dear Florida: Several readers responded to this letter, many asking why we didn't mention their particular specialty. We wish we could have listed all of them, but there simply wasn't space. Read on for more:

From California: I am a licensed marriage and family (LMFT) therapist and have been since 1975 and was deeply disappointed that LMFTs were omitted from your list of counseling resources.

Oregon: While we have licensed clinical social workers and psychologists, we also have licensed marriage and family therapists — all of which are considered counselors/therapists/psychotherapists. Psychiatrists are medical doctors with a specialty in psychiatric medications. On the West Coast, they are not referred to as therapists, but as psychiatrists.

Illinois: Mental health nurse practitioners can also prescribe medications.

Middlebury, Vermont: As you said, counselors can be psychologists or social workers, but they can also be nurses, ministers or someone specifically trained for drug/alcohol issues, PTSD, etc. In the state of Vermont, just about anybody can hang up a shingle that denotes them to be a "therapist," but there are legal restrictions to using the term "psychologist." I think using "mental health professional" and urging people to check the references and training of the person they select is the best choice. You perform a great public service by encouraging people to seek help when they encounter life problems.

This Classic Annie's Mailbox column was originally published in 2014. To find out more about Classic Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit Creators Syndicate at www.creators.com.

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