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Frequently Asked Questions



What is a Psychologist?


A licensed psychologist has the most extensive and r​relevant training among all medical and behavioral health care providers for diagnosing and treating behavioral health problems.  A psychologist has a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) or Psy.D. (Doctor of Psychology) degree and specializes in the assessment and treatment of lifespan and mental health concerns.  Training typically involves approximately eight years of undergraduate and graduate University classes and two years of supervised training in a mental health or hospital setting.  "School psychologists" may have different training standards, but are qualified to assess and treat children with academic and school based concerns.  Although advanced degrees such as the Ph.D. is awarded to professionals in other fields (e.g., chemistry, mathematics, history, etc.), the title "Psychologist" is reserved in the same way that the terms "Attorney" and "Physician" are limited to those individual who specialize in a practitioner science/profession and who are licensed by their State in which they practice to do so.  Psychologists have ongoing continuing education standards to maintain their guidelines and are bound by the legal and ethical standards of their profession.  Psychologists who practice therapy or counseling may be called a therapist, but not all (or most) therapists are psychologists.  If you are going to see a therapist, you need to know what profession they belong to and the credentials and license they need to practice.


How are a Psychologist and Psychiatrist Different?


A psychiatrist has an MD(Doctor of Medicine) or DO (Doctor of Osteopathy) degree and specializes in the branch of medicine that focuses on mental health disorders.  While some psychiatrists use talk therapy as a means of treating their patients, most psychiatrists treat mental health disorders through the use of prescription medication.  Psychologists do not prescribe medication and use talk and behavioral therapy and psychological testing as their primary means for assessing and treating mental health concerns of their clients. Psychologists and psychiatrists often work together as a team in addressing more severe or chronic mental health concerns for an individual.



Are "Counseling," "Therapy," and "Psychotherapy" the Same Thing?


These terms are often used interchangeably and have come to mean the essentially the same service for many professionals and consumers alike.  "Counseling" is often perceived as less threatening and involved than psychotherapy and is a term used in a variety of mental health and non-mental health situations.  People often fear that they must be "sick" or "crazy" to enter into therapy, but in fact millions of Americans from all walks of life and situations have found relief from depression and other emotional difficulties.  Regardless of the term used, working with a psychologist should involve a treatment plan that speaks to a clear understanding of the type and frequency of strategies used in session, the frequency and duration of sessions, and expected goals and outcomes.


What is Play Therapy?


Therapy with children often involves play to increase their comfort level by engaging with them on a level they are most familiar and at ease.  Children are typically much less willing than adults to sit in a chair and talk things out.At the simplest level children are typically better able to explore their thoughts and feelings while at play;a lot of good therapy work can occur with a child while playing a game or drawing a picture.  Therapeutic play strategies can also be employed in session as a means of helping a child gain insight and learn better strategies for managing their emotions and behavior.


Does Therapy Work?


Therapy requires work both in and outside of sessions for individuals and families to understand and modify the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that contribute to their unhappiness or a dysfunctional life style.  Research suggests that therapy effectively decreases depression, anxiety and related symptoms.  Research also increasingly supports the idea that emotional and physical health are very closely linked and that therapy can improve a person's overall health status.


There is also convincing evidence that most people who have at least several sessions of psychotherapy are far better off than untreated individuals with emotional difficulties.  One major study showed that 50 percent of patients noticeably improved after eight sessions while 75 percent of individuals in psychotherapy improved by the end of six months.  Psychotherapy with children is similar in effectiveness to psychotherapy with adults.Individuals and families who are willing to work in close partnership with their therapist often find relief from their emotional distress and begin to lead more productive and fulfilling lives.


Are Therapy Sessions Private & Confidential?


Generally what is said in sessions remains confidential and private between psychologist and client.  Issues of confidentiality may be less clear when working with adolescents and an understanding among teenager, parents and therapist alike is important for determining what should and should not be shared if the therapeutic relationship is to develop and become beneficial.  Exceptions to confidentiality include: 1) an assessment of threat/harm to self or others;2) suspected child and elder abuse or neglect;and 3) court order in legal proceedings.  The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that provides privacy protections and patient rights with regard to the use and disclosure of your Protected Health Information (PHI) used for the purpose of treatment, payment, and health care operations.  A notice form of allowed policies and practices under HIPAA and relevant state law will be provided to you at your first session.

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