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Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Counselor? Which Mental Health Professional should I Choose? From Cary

Aug 1, 2008
You have finally decided you want to consult a psychologist, psychiatrist or other mental health professional, but how do you go about choosing which one will meet your unique needs? There are at least 5 different types of mental health treatment providers from which to choose.

Do not just consider the professional degree when picking a counselor or therapist. Do you want a male or female?

Do you want one who is an expert in marriage counseling? Individual counseling? Substance abuse treatment? Do you want a therapist who prescribes drugs?

How about one who can X Ray your personality by using tests? One who can administer hypnosis? Electroshock?

A good first step would be to consult with a healthcare professional who knows the answers to these questions. Call the psychology or psychiatry department at a university.

Talk to a psychology instructor at a local community college or contact the behavioral health unit in your local hospital or your community crisis line.

It is important to be familiar with the training, skills and treatment philosophy of the various types of professionals, and then match what you prefer with what a particular treatment provider has to offer.

Also, talk to the representative of an organization which is concerned with issues like yours i.e. marriage, anxiety, depression etc. Their opinions are invaluable, as they are in contact with many different patients and treatment providers who are concerned with the very same issues as you and they have first hand knowledge of the characteristics and qualities of different types of counselors and therapists.

Your 5 main choices of mental health treatment providers are: The marriage and family counselor, the psychologist, the psychiatrist, the professional mental health counselor and the clinical social worker.

The marriage and family counselor has one to two years of graduate training in counseling those with troubled marriages and family problems. He or she will have a masters degree and will likely have done an internship.

The advantage of using these professionals is that you are working with someone who has intense training in this one area of counseling. The disadvantage is that some insurance companies may not cover their services.

The psychologist holds a doctoral degree in psychology. Some consider him or her to be the most highly trained of mental health professionals. The psychologist has approximately 6 years of college training in the psychological sciences; 2 years of upper division in college and 3 to 4 years of post-graduate school.

A psychologist is trained to do counseling, psychotherapy, research and mental X Rays, better known as psychological testing. They practice marriage and family counseling and therapy to eliminate anxiety, depression as well as the entire range of psychological disorders.

The advantages of using a psychologist are that he is the most highly trained in psychological practice, is an expert in providing cutting edge treatment for diverse problems and uses psychological testing to provide revealing information about how your mind works.

Also, in many cases, he or she is a trained mental health researcher, meaning, in this case, the psychologist is trained not to just practice psychology, but also to contribute to it through research.

Another advantage is that their services are covered by almost all insurance companies who provide mental health coverage.

The clinical social worker and professional counselor provide counseling to eliminate family problems and troubles arising from depression, anxiety, agitation and other emotional disorders. They have from one to two years of post-college level training in counseling and mental health.

The social worker holds a masters degree in social work while the professional counselor holds one in counseling. They both must do an internship and pass a comprehensive examination to practice independently.

Psychiatrists have most of their training in medicine, chemistry and the biological sciences. Their central training in psychiatry and mental health is usually received in the 3 year residency in psychiatry.

They hold a doctoral degree in medicine or osteopathy and receive no substantive training in counseling, family therapy, marital therapy or psychological testing.

They are mainly used to prescribe medication and administer occasional electroshock treatments. Their services are covered by all health insurance companies.

As you can see, there is a wide variety of professionals available to treat emotional problems. The one crucial ingredient, however, is the quality of the rapport you have with your provider.

It is important to check educational credentials, experience and any history of disciplinary action by your state Board. But even after all these check-out, be sure you trust and have an excellent rapport with your therapist, or you might have to start all over again!
About the Author
Dr Shery is in Cary, IL, near Algonquin, Crystal Lake, Marengo and Lake-in-the-Hills. He's an expert psychologist. Call 1 847 516 0899 and make an appt orlearn more about counseling at: http://www.carypsychology.com
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