What Is a Psychologist? How Can They Help?
Clinical psychologists are mental health professionals who possess the training and skills to help people with their mental health problems. These professionals attend graduate school, obtain a master’s degree, and gain many years of supervised training to become a practicing psychologist.
Most psychologists also go on to get their doctorate degree in psychology. This requires these health care professionals to spend around seven years receiving the proper education and training, after undergrad.
Psychologists help many different people with a range of problems include mental health conditions like depression, out-of-control anger, and stress. The following individuals could benefit from talking to a psychologist:
- Someone who is feeling overwhelmed at their new job
- Someone who is feeling depressed or anxious
- Someone who is exhibiting symptoms of another mental illness
- Someone who is struggling with uncontrollable anger
- Someone who is grieving the loss of a close friend or family member
- Someone who has experienced a traumatic event
If you decide to work with a psychologist, they will cater treatment to you and your needs. In other words, they will first understand what you need from them and how they can best help you. Then, they will put their skills, training, and experience to develop an effective treatment plan for you.
These professionals use many different treatment methods, including talk therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, and more. Psychologists who focus their work on providing counseling to their clients are often called counseling psychologists. And those who focus on helping students improve and maintain their mental well-being can be called school psychologists.
Psychologist vs. Psychiatrist: What’s the Difference?
Many people mistake psychologists and psychiatrists for each other. While their roles and practices might intersect, they do have different backgrounds in education and training.
As we discussed above, psychologists receive master’s degrees and often doctorates in psychology as well. They then focus on helping their clients with their mental health challenges, often using talk therapy and other forms of therapy. Psychiatrists, on the other hand, are medical doctors who specialize in psychiatry. Psychiatrists can utilize talk therapy, prescribe medication, and employ other treatments to help their clients.
When Should Someone See a Psychiatrist?
Psychiatrists work at hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, nursing homes, private practices, and rehabs. If you think you might have a mental health condition, they can provide a diagnosis, offer medication management, or refer you to a psychologist for therapy. In a nutshell, they specialize in diagnosing and treating mental illness.
Often, psychiatrists treat individuals who require or can benefit from medication. The following conditions can often require treatment in the form of medication:
- Anxiety disorders, like generalized anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Major depression, bipolar disorder, and other types of depression,
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
To diagnose these conditions, psychiatrists use psychological testing, which can include self-reports and more formal testing like lab tests.
If the psychiatrist diagnoses an individual with a condition that benefit from therapy, the psychiatrist might then refer the individual to a psychologist or therapist for treatment. If they instead determine a need for medication, they can work with the individual to find the right medication and also provide medication management.
When Should Someone See a Psychologist?
Like psychiatrists, psychologists often work in hospitals, psychiatric hospitals, nursing homes, private practices, and rehabs. These professionals, however, often are not qualified to prescribe medication. That said, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Louisiana, and New Mexico do allow psychologists to prescribe medication if they receive additional credentials.
As we said earlier, psychologists often use talk therapy to help their clients. This is the traditional in-person counseling that requires you to talk to your therapist about your challenges. Over time, with the psychologist’s help, the client can begin to better manage their specific problems.
Psychologists work with individuals, couples, families, and even children. They can provide couples therapy, marriage counseling, family therapy, child therapy, and other services.
What Are Child Psychologists?
As we just mentioned, there are psychologists who specialize in helping children. These professionals are simply called child psychologists. When they meet with these young individuals, they assess many different areas of functioning. They look at the child’s mental and emotional health as well as their behavior, their academic abilities, and more.
Getting to know a child in this comprehensive way allows them to best understand their needs. Children experience unique challenges, which often need to be addressed in child therapy. Here are a few common challenges among children and adolescents:
- Learning disorders
- Behavioral problems
- Conduct disorders
- Food-related issues
If your child is struggling with an item on the list above, it’s important to talk to a professional. A psychologist who specializes in child psychology can assess your child and their needs. They can then offer the right treatment that addresses their specific problem(s).
Work with a Psychologist Online
At Thriveworks, you can also receive online psychological counselling. This simply means working with a psychologist online, over the phone or by video. Both of these options are effective and will enable you to complete important work with your psychologist online. Here is what you can look forward to if you choose to have online psychology sessions:
- Optimal accessibility: Receiving psychological help online improves access to this care. Many people cannot or do not schedule mental health services because they can’t find a day or time that they can make it into the office. With online psychology services, you don’t have to worry about fitting a commute and an appointment into your schedule. You simply have to carve out time for your appointment, which you can attend from home.
- Greater comfort: Thriveworks has seen that people find greater comfort in online psychologist therapy than in-person therapy services. These individuals feel more inclined to open up to their providers about how they are feeling and what they are experiencing. While we foster a safe space free of judgment at all of our offices, many people still feel more comfortable working with their psychologists in a virtual setting.
There are additional benefits to working with your psychologist online. However, this is a very personal decision. If you would rather meet with your psychologist in-person that’s okay too. Thriveworks offers both in-person and online psychology services.