What is the difference between a psychotherapist, psychiatrist, and psychologist?
A psychotherapist interacts with clients most often via talk therapy. The work is usually grounded in a theory using various treatment modalities to address interpersonal relationship issues and emotional mental health struggles. Psychotherapists help clients gain insight and work to initiate change in a client’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior to promote an improved quality of life through healing and growth. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in understanding how medications for mood disorders interact with the body and with other medications you may be taking. Some psychiatrists may provide occasional therapy but they primarily tend to the evaluation of your mental health and prescribe medications as needed. Psychologists focus on understanding mental health through research as well as specializing in diagnosing and treating diseases of the brain, emotional disturbance, and behavior problems. They provide psychological testing, in depth mental health evaluations and assessments, as well as counseling. They do not prescribe 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 if a combination of both medication and therapy is the best course of action for your specific situation.
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 strengths. In our work together, I will help you reflect and gain insight in order to draw on your strengths to foster growth and positive change. I believe that over the course of our lives there are times therapy can help give support and guidance when we falter and bring our lives back into the balance and harmony we seek.
What’s the difference between talking to you or my best friend or family?
Psychotherapists are highly trained to listen and make assessments. They understand how to hold a client’s story and work through emotional pain and life’s struggles at a pace that meets the client’s needs. In a crisis, therapists are trained how to keep you safe and provide you the direction and referrals you may need. Family and friends may get caught up in the emotion making it difficult for them to guide you through a difficult time. 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. Therapy is completely confidential. You don’t have to worry about others knowing what you are not ready to share and what you are struggling with. If your situation provokes a great deal of emotion, you are free to express it in the protected space of therapy which may be difficult to do with a family member or friend. That said, family and friends can provide support, empathy, and love all of which have a very positive impact on healing. Allow friends and family to be that in your life, and allow a mental health profession be your therapist.
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.