Frequently asked questions about Psychologists, Psychotherapy and the Process of consultation

Following earning a BA/BSc and an MA/MSc in Psychology, one must complete the MPhil, a two-year programme that involves extensive, hospital-based training under close supervision. The Rehabilitation Council of India, which oversees the programme, issues a registration to everyone who successfully completes it. Clinical psychologists are trained to diagnose mental diseases in both children and adults by taking a thorough medical history and conducting psychological tests. Moreover, they typically focus on one or two types of psychotherapy (e.g., psychoanalysis, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy etc.).

Whereas a psychiatrist comes from a medical background and has finished their MBBS and MD in Psychiatry, a clinical psychologist is a non-medical person who has completed their MPhil in Clinical Psychology and offers psychological assessment and psychotherapy.  Clinical psychologists DO NOT prescribe medications. Nonetheless, if they believe that medication is necessary in your circumstance, psychotherapists might undoubtedly recommend that you see a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists make medication recommendations, and some of them also conduct counselling sessions with their patients.

A counsellor or counselling psychologist has finished a master’s degree in psychology, may have participated in internships or training programmes, and may also have taken diploma courses in marital therapy or child and adolescent psychology. Depending on their post-Masters training, they might be skilled at screening for mental diseases as well as counselling for relationship concerns, lifestyle issues, and specific mental health conditions like adjustment disorder or moderate anxiety. They are not, however, qualified to make diagnoses or offer counselling for mental diseases.

Psychotherapy is the specific use of talk therapy to help clients work through psychological distress and treat mental health concerns. Psychotherapy can help you gain insight into your feelings and behaviors, develop coping strategies, and enhance your overall well-being. It can be (and sometimes encouraged) used with medication in the treatment of mental health disorders (such as depression and anxiety).  Psychotherapy and counselling are terms that are often used interchangeably. There are many different types of psychotherapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy and humanistic therapy, among others. 

It is time to seek professional help when a person’s behavior, sleeping habits, or emotional condition begins to interfere with how their daily lives normally run. Several mental health-related issues, including test anxiety, marital problems, family problems, and self-related issues, can be helped by therapy. You visit a therapist for mental health just as you would a doctor for physical health. Many seek therapy because they believe that in order to have a full life, both the mind and the body must be in harmony.

Talk therapy is another name for psychotherapy. These discussions, however, are client-centered and not simply any casual conversation. Here, aiding the client is the objective. The therapist makes an effort to comprehend the issues or circumstances that the client is struggling with, and together they strive to find answers. The therapist and client have a professional relationship of mutual consent in which they discuss the issues and work for the client’s improvement.

The nature of therapy sessions is complete confidentiality. Everything that the client and his or her therapist discuss stays in the room. One of the pillars of therapeutic treatment is confidentiality. All mental health practitioners, including psychologists, psychotherapists, and psychiatrists, are aware of the need of maintaining client confidentiality in counselling relationships.

Counseling is not a magic bullet. It’s a process that takes time to produce results. But customers will see how a professional therapist differs from a friend from the very first session. How a therapeutic dialogue in a suitable environment can help him or her. Usually, the initial session is used to establish a rapport and lay out the course of action for the therapy or treatment.

With the advent of covid, everyone has realized the importance of mental health and the scenario where almost everything is manageable in online form of working. There are many clients who want to take session, but do not an efficient time to travel or maybe any other reason. People sometimes prefer to sit in the comfort zone of their home and do not want to visit a clinic. The crux is online session is as beneficial as actually coming to visit a therapist in person.  It’s upon the client how they are comfortable. Online therapy is just as effective as face-to-face work for clients, especially longer-term.

Going for psychotherapy is a brave decision indeed. Self-improvement and self-discovery are difficult and of course anxiety-provoking. Most people report being anxious for their first session and want to ensure that they share all possible information and all of their life story in the first session. Planning too much for the first session can be as counterproductive as not at all planning for it. You can note down the objectives you hope to accomplish via therapy, questions about the process and clarify any doubts you may have. Being honest and open with your therapist and going with the flow can very well serve the purpose of first session. The first session is mostly focused on gathering information and getting introduced to each other as well as create a comfortable and safe space for you. 

The purpose of psychotherapy (and specifically the psychotherapy I follow) is to enable you to understand your issues and learn skills in dealing with them. Furthermore, talking things out with a neutral, non-judgmental person itself can be therapeutic.

We do not talk about “cure” with mental health issues. The aim is to help you learn skills that can empower you and make you more confident and competent in dealing with extraneous and mental health issues, should they arise in future.

Individual sessions last for about 45 to 50 minutes, marital and family therapy sessions last fot 60 minutes. Psychological assessment sessions last for 60 minutes each. 

Some of the assessments used for children include:
Assessment of intelligence or IQ tests
Psycho-educational Assessment or Assessment for Specific Learning Disability/Dyslexia
Assessment of Behavior problems like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Conduct Disorder, and other disruptive disorders
Assessment of emotional problems such as anxiety or depression
Assessment of neuro-developmental disorders like Autism
Assessment of brain functioning such as attention, memory, problem-solving etc.

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