What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in understanding how medications for mood disorders interact with the body and other medications you may be taking. Some psychiatrists may provide counseling or therapy but frequently dedicate themselves to medication management.
Psychologists are doctors in philosophy (Ph.D.) who specialize in understanding mental health. Many psychologists, trained and licensed to provide counseling, focus on performing evaluations to identify disorders such as learning disabilities, I.Q. tests or diagnosing personality disorders. Psychologists are not trained or licensed to prescribe medication.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) and Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) are usually the people that provide counseling and meet with you regularly to help people through a difficult time. They are trained and skilled on many techniques to help people through their crises and to help them find better ways to cope with the issues that they are facing. Neither LMFT’s or LPC’s are licensed to prescribed medication.
Should I take medication or go into psychotherapy?
It is well established that the long-term solution to mental and emotional problems and the pain they cause cannot be solved solely by medication. Instead of just treating the symptom, therapy addresses the cause of our distress and the behavior patterns that curb our progress. You can best achieve sustainable growth and a greater sense of well-being with an integrative approach to wellness. Working with your medical doctor you can determine what’s best for you, and in some cases a combination of both medication and therapy is the right course of action.
I’ve never talked to anyone. I’m used to handling things on my own. Aren’t people who go to therapy weak?
On the contrary. People who ask for help know when they need it and have the ability to reach out. Everyone needs help now and then. You already have some strengths that you’ve used before, that for whatever reason aren’t working right now. Perhaps this problem feels overwhelming and is making it difficult to access your past strengths. In our work together, I’ll help you identify what those strengths are and how to implement them again in what is happening now.
What’s the difference between talking to you or my best friend or family?
The difference is between someone who can do something, and someone who has the training and experience to do that same thing professionally. A mental health professional can help you approach your situation in a new way– teach you new skills, gain different perspectives, listen to you without judgment or expectations, and help you listen to yourself. Furthermore, therapy is completely confidential. You won’t have to worry about others “knowing my business.” Lastly, if your situation provokes a great deal of negative emotion, if you’ve been confiding in a friend or family member, there is the risk that once you are feeling better you could start avoiding that person so you aren’t reminded of this difficult time in your life.
How does it work? What do I have to do in sessions?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. I tailor my therapeutic approach to your specific needs. In general, you can expect to discuss the current events happening in your life, your personal history relevant to your issue, and report progress (or any new insights gained) from the previous therapy session.
How long will it take?
Depending on your specific needs, therapy can be short-term, for a specific issue, or longer-term, to deal with more difficult patterns or your desire for more personal development. Either way, it is most common to schedule regular weekly sessions initially, and then space them out as you see progress.
If I commit to therapy, what can I expect? How can I get the most out of therapy?
It is important to understand that you will get more results from therapy if you actively participate in the process. The ultimate purpose of therapy is to help you bring what you learn in sessions back into your life. Beyond the work you do in therapy sessions, if you are receptive to “homework”, I can suggest some things you can do outside of therapy to support your progress – such as practicing relaxation skills, journaling on a specific topic, reading a pertinent book, noting particular behaviors or taking action on your goals.
My partner and I are having problems. Should we be in individual counseling or come together?
If you are concerned about your relationship, and you would both like to work with me, I would initially work with both of you together. After this work, if one of you would like to continue in individual sessions, I could work with only one of you. It is not helpful to move from individual into couple’s work with the same therapist because of potential trust issues.