Guide to Therapy

What is Therapy?

therapist counsellor havocaIn order to understand therapy there are some very quick definitions and differences we should address first:

Psychiatrist and Psychologist.

Although both professions aim to help/improve the mental health of an individual, there are some key differences.

Psychiatrist. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in preventing, diagnosing, and treating mental illness. A psychiatrist’s training starts with four years of medical school and is followed by a one-year internship and at least three years of specialized training as a psychiatric resident. A psychiatrist monitors the effects of mental illness on other physical conditions, such as problems with the heart or high blood pressure.

As a doctor, a psychiatrist is licensed to write prescriptions. Many mental disorders — such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, or bipolar disorder — can be treated effectively with specific drugs. If you are working with a psychiatrist, a lot of the treatment may be focused on medication management. Sometimes medication alone is enough to treat the mental illness. Sometimes a combination of medication and psychotherapy or counselling is needed. If that is the case, the psychiatrist may provide the psychotherapy, or the psychiatrist may refer you to a counselor or other type of mental health professional.

Psychologist. A psychologist has a doctoral degree (PhD, PsyD, or EdD) in psychology, which is the study of the mind and behaviors. Graduate school provides a psychologist an education in evaluating and treating mental and emotional disorders. After completing graduate school, a psychologist completes an internship that lasts two to three years and provides further training in treatment methods, psychological theory, and behavioural therapy.

Psychologists tend to have clients, where as Psychiatrists have patients.

Counselling and Psychotherapy

Generally speaking counselling and psychotherapy (therapy for short) are terms that are used interchangeably. Acedemically there are slight variations but you shouldn’t worry too much about them unless you are studying for a qualification.

If you are interested, counselling focuses on specific issues and is designed to help a person address a particular problem, such as addiction or stress management. The focus may be on problem solving or on learning specific techniques for coping with or avoiding problem areas. Counselling is also usually more short-term than therapy.Psychotherapy (or more commonly known as, therapy) is more long-term than counselling and focuses on a broader range of issues. The underlying principle is that a person’s patterns of thinking and unconscious awareness affect the way that person interacts with the world. The goal is to uncover those patterns and become aware of their effect and then learn new, healthier ways to think and interact.

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