There are undoubtedly fine practitioners among each different category of licensed mental health professional. How can you make the best choice for what you need? Here are some reasons to choose a psychologist:
- Psychologists study the entirety of human development and behavior. To be a “Psychologist” in Texas means that you have a doctorate and have studied not only case histories and clinical observations, but also scientific research.
- Licensed psychologists have all conducted their own research into some aspect of human behavior. They are “scientist/practitioners,” and thus are always seeking what works best to help people grow and change.
- Licensed psychologists have the most stringent ethical standards of all mental health practitioners.
- Psychology doctoral programs last from four to seven years, all of it devoted to human behavior and the diagnosis and treatment of behavioral disorders.
- Psychotherapy is a major part of training for licensed psychologists; and psychotherapy is much more effective than medication for treating most psychological problems.
- If you do need medication, your psychologist will refer you to a medical doctor.
- Psychologists begin their clinical practica (actually working with patients or clients) during graduate school. At the end of their studies, they do a clinical internship, followed by a year of professionally supervised practice AFTER receiving the doctoral degree.
- To obtain licensure, a psychologist must pass written and oral examinations in clinical issues and ethical practice. Psychologists are the most highly vetted mental health practitioners. (It is so tough that there is even a funny You Tube video about it.)
Feeling comfortable with your psychologist or other mental health professional is even more important than choosing your medical doctor. If it doesn’t feel right, ask questions or try someone else.
You are looking for someone who really listens carefully to you, understands what you are trying to communicate, respects what is important to you and feels like someone you can trust.