In the world of psychotherapy, there are different types of therapists, and it’s important to understand the differences when looking for the right therapist for you. Many people initially turn to their general practitioner for help, and, while a general practitioner can prescribe medication or advise you on helpful lifestyle changes, they cannot perform psychotherapy. Even if you decide that medication is right for you, it’s important to also try to understand the root of the problem for long-term wellness. The following are some of the doctors and counselors that may help through the use of psychotherapy.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors trained in dealing with a variety of mental health issues including depression, anxiety, social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. They can both perform psychoanalysis and prescribe medication if necessary. Often they investigate the possible biological factors including chemical imbalances and genetics through the use of tests, a look at medical history, and investigation of the family history. When necessary, psychiatrists may admit patients to the hospital for testing and observation.
Clinical Psychologists are not medical doctors, but they do have PhDs. They are able to diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders, including short-term difficulties arising from crisis situations and long-term, chronic conditions. Most often they do this through the use of different psycho-therapeutic techniques. Because they are not medical doctors, they are not able to prescribe medication, but they can refer the patient to someone who can if it is considered necessary.
Counseling Psychologists are PhDs who specialize in helping people to realize their personal strengths and resources in dealing with problems. They believe that individuals are just that—a unique set of traits that make up who they are, and they encourage us to celebrate the differences as strengths, not weaknesses. Counseling psychologists help the individual to realize how these differences can be used to help them discover their potential in professional and personal situations.
Licensed Professional Counselors have masters degrees in either psychology or counseling. Essentially, licensed professional counselors, or LPCs, aid the individual in dealing with problems that they have not been able to handle on their own. They focus on a broad spectrum of issues including grief and loss, family relationships, substance abuse problems, and stress management. In general, they first help the patient to devise a plan for resolving their issues and finding recovery. Once the plan is implemented, the LPC helps the patient maintain the resolution through continuing wellness plans.
Whatever type of psychotherapist you choose, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, trust yourself. Those with depression, anxiety, social anxiety, and panic disorder often don’t trust their feelings, and this may lead to their staying with a therapist that does not suit their needs. Shop around until you find someone with whom you are comfortable. Second, understand that therapy is a process. It is not a quick-fix or a cure-all, but it is an investment in your emotional wellness to come.