Feeling Pained? Should you See a Therapist or Psychologist?
The terms therapist, counsellor, psychologist, clinical psychologist are confusing. It’s not clear from whom we should seek help, especially when going through tough times.
All of them work hard to help us take care of our mental health and emotional well-being, but each helps to a certain degree. Let’s understand the different types of mental health professionals and end the confusion.
What Are the Types of Mental Health Professionals?
Therapists, counsellors, and psychologists are the same. You can use any term you like. They help you deal with your emotions, become aware of them, and cope with stressful situations to become an empowered human being. Therapists also help if you have experienced trauma (sexual, physical, caste-based, and emotional), behavioural problems, interpersonal problems, excessive worry, sadness, or a particular disorder.
Therapists have a master’s degree in psychology from a government-recognised college.
Clinical psychologists require an M.Phil. from an RCI-certified college. Clinical psychologists have the necessary training to conduct assessments and diagnose clients. An assessment is needed if there is a possibility of mental illness, understanding the person’s personality, or seeing if you are experiencing some distress in interpersonal relationships. Clinical psychologists are also trained in therapeutic skills.
Who Should You See, Then?
You must visit a therapist and tell them what’s bothering you. Therapists receive adequate psychological training to make a generalised assessment. You can improve your mental health by learning coping skills. They will recommend a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist if required.
A clinical psychologist can conduct an assessment and diagnosis. If diagnosed, your clinical psychologist will help you learn strategies to cope with mental distress.
You shouldn’t stop seeing your therapist even if you’re seeing a psychiatrist. You will have to work with both simultaneously. Don’t shy away from asking questions from your therapist about your treatment plan.
How Can a Person Find a Therapist or Clinical Psychologist?
Organisations such as Lime lighting Life and Therapy Route are excellent resources to find mental health professionals. You can also look for psychologists on social media platforms and check their education and recommendation sections. Companies and organisations like us, partner with several psychologists to provide help to those in need.
Please be wary of people running an illegal practice: several people without the required qualifications call themselves therapists or clinical psychologists. Ensure you have enough knowledge of your therapist before you proceed; it could worsen your mental health.
Some organisations, such as the Vandrevala Foundation, AASRA, and FORTIS Stress Helpline, offer a free 24×7 mental health service. Vandrevala Foundation provides counselling services to those in need to provide support through face-to-face (Mumbai), telephonic, or e-mail.
Who Is a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist?
The master’s psychology program covers CBT, and psychologists don’t need to take a separate course. Anyone can become a CBT diploma holder; there are many online courses, but it’s illegal to practice without a master’s degree.
Few Other Approaches to Therapy
The Trauma-Informed approach helps people who have suffered mental trauma in the past. This approach focuses on recovery and dealing with re-traumatization.
Queer-Affirmative therapy maintains a positive outlook toward the LGBTQ identity. It helps with issues faced by queer people such as homophobia, discrimination, distress due to gender identity confusion, and the stress of coming out to loved ones. The approach tries to make the person feel empowered to accept reality.
Narrative therapy is an approach that uses past experiences and stories to come up with solutions and meanings. This approach is for people who like to come up with their ideas to become resilient. When a problem arises within a story, the counsellor helps manage the issue.
There are several more approaches in therapy that you can explore, such as the existential approach.
Some professionals specialise in and practice a particular approach, while some work according to your needs. Please discuss this with your psychologist about the method that will work best for you.
Is It Okay to Ask Psychologists Questions?
Yes. And you should. Part of the first session is about getting to know each other and building a rapport. You must be able to trust your psychologist and be comfortable sharing intimate details.
A good therapist will not have a problem answering your questions. You should have a list of goals you want to achieve through therapy. Be assertive, and don’t be afraid to move on to another psychologist if your beliefs don’t align or you don’t feel comfortable with them. Some questions that you can ask are:
- What type of psychologist are you? What are your qualifications?
- Do you specialise in a field?
- What can I expect from therapy? What’s your process or approach to treatment?
- How long have you worked as a mental health professional?
- How many sessions will it take to achieve the goals?
Do Psychologists Have a Specialisation?
After completing their master’s degree, many psychologists specialise in a particular field, such as Trauma, Queer Affirmative Therapy, or Substance Abuse Treatment. You might want to work with a specialised psychologist if you require help with a particular problem.
It’s understandable if you feel hesitant to seek help from a mental health professional. You can also talk to a therapist via phone or video call. Please don’t self-diagnose and trust articles you read on the internet. You can get help and correct information from psychologists since each person is different.
At Love We Care, we’re building a community in India to raise mental health awareness and provide accessible and affordable mental health support. Get in touch with us through phone, website, or social media platforms and be a part of our growing community.
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Image: Nik Shuliahin, Pixabay
Source: Vaishnavi Verma, Masters in Applied (specialisation in Clinical) Psychology