What does a Clinical Psychologist do?
A clinical psychologist is a health care professional who has been trained in psychological assessment, psychological evaluation and diagnosis of emotional, behavioral and mental illnesses.
Clinical psychologists usually cannot prescribe medicines unless they have a degree in psychopharmacology as well. Clinical psychologists usually treat patients by using therapy techniques involving behavioral interventions such as psychoanalytic therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.
They are trained to help people through various ages experiencing myriad psychological problems that hamper their lives and relationships. The psychologists provide a supportive and confidential environment for individuals or a group of individuals to discuss and diagnose the possibility of any mental health issues.
In this article, we will learn in detail about the role of clinical psychologists in helping patients cure depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.
What is Clinical Psychology? What do clinical psychologists specialize in?
The branch of clinical psychology is a professional field that is an integration of science, applications of psychological theory and working models and clinical knowledge. This knowledge is particularly channelled into understanding, diagnosing and subsequently treating any mental distress or disorder.
How are they different from Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Counsellors?
Psychiatrists, psychologists and counsellors are all trained in providing psychotherapeutic interventions to counsel people suffering from mental illnesses or emotional distress. However, there are important differences between the professions in terms of educational qualifications and responsibilities to treat patients.
Counselors: They have a requirement of obtaining a master’s degree or higher in the counseling of mental health or marriage therapy or family therapy. They work in private practices, mental health clinics, or in educational or professional settings like in schools or offices.
Counsellors generally help in assessing patients and helping them to cope through talk therapy in a confidential environment where assistance can be provided for people having issues such as anxiety, relationship issues, sexual disorders, eating disorders, life changes or substance abuse, However, it is a requisite in most states for a professional counselor to be licensed in order for them to practice.
Clinical psychologists: Similar to professional counsellors, they are trained in the assessment and diagnosis of people suffering from mental, emotional or psychological disorders. However, it is in their professional capacity to provide psychological or diagnostic tests as well as cognitive therapy to treat their patients as well as consult with medical professionals for a medication of their patients.
Clinical Psychologist Doctors usually have doctoral degrees (Ph.D., Mphil, Psy.D., or Ed.D.) and can conduct scientific research or train to get a license for the practice. This means that psychologists gather experience through seven years of graduate training after their four years of college by gathering experience through internships and apprenticeships under the supervision of licensed psychologists.
Psychiatrists: They are medical doctors who are specialized in treating and diagnosing patients suffering from mood disorders as well as other cognitive illnesses.
One of the main differences between other psychotherapy professions is that psychiatrists are licensed doctors who can prescribe medication as well as provide other services such as psychotherapy as well.
Should I see a psychologist or psychiatrist?
Consulting a psychologist or a psychiatrist depends solely on the patient. While a psychologist is trained to look at the behavioral aspects of the patient, a psychiatrist will typically look at the biological factors behind the deficits of mental health.
Picking a psychologist or a psychiatrist depends on several factors depending on the individual wanting therapy or medication. A psychologist typically uses talking therapy to understand the problems of patients whereas a psychiatrist can prescribe medication more easily looking at a more biological aspect.
A patient can even consult both a psychiatrist and a psychologist to get a more conclusive diagnosis.
Reasons to see a psychologist
When to see a clinical psychologist?
In many cases, people are not sure if their symptoms are serious enough to see a psychologist. Everytime you feel that you are having trouble dealing with situations that you could easily handle before, it means that you might be in need of therapy. Therapy helps clear the mind, letting the patient think clearly and hence make better informed decisions.
Here are some of the instances on which the patient should consider treatment from Clinical Psychologist Doctor.
- Feeling overwhelmed in terms of taking decisions, in career or in life.
- Difficulties in relationships with family as well as issues with body image
- Depression or anxiety about illness, treatment or any medical procedures or future
- Feelings of grief and bereavement
- The failure to get over the death or loss of a close family member or a friend
Importance of Clinical Psychology
There is a multitude of benefits of seeking out a clinical psychologist as it helps solve the most complex human problems. They aim to treat mental, psychological, and emotional distresses with the goal to promote the overall well-being of the patient.
A clinical psychologist can help patients with serious mental illnesses such as trauma, anxiety, and other mood disorders which can interfere with your daily routine. These are the issues that hold us back from finding fulfillment and happiness in our life.
A clinical psychologist will help patients who are suffering from mental afflictions to move past these issues. Usually, this will include employing therapeutic techniques that are based on modern neuroscientific research.
Why is Clinical Psychology Important?
Here are some of the benefits clinical and health psychology doctors can help bring about:
- Clinical and mental health counseling helps patients come out of a major depressive episode or phase
- Help with anxiety issues like jitters and panic attacks
- Clinical psychology helps people deal with obsessions and compulsions
- They also help the patients deal with personal relationships. Be it family therapy or marriage counselling.
What type of training do psychologists have?
Psychologists usually have a PhD or MPhil degree (with exception in certain places). However, besides years of college, the interested people are also required to undergo training in the form of apprenticeships under licensed psychologists.
A clinical psychologist, in general gets trained in certain basic capacities such as:
- Maintenance of a cordial and respectful relationship with the patients that they are treating while also trying to get deep into their personal issues to figure out the root causes of their problems.
- Sensitivity to the diversity among various patients and the factors these differences bring in affecting the way the patient thinks and behaves.
- An ability to self evaluate continuously to strive the highest possible standard of treatment that can be provided to their patients.
- Collaborations with members from multiple disciplines and keeping up with the latest research to improve methods of treatment.
A clinical psychologist is also trained to be competent in certain specific skills that include:
- Continuous consultations with professionals and organizations regarding violence, suicides and mental distress
- Keeping in touch with the continuously evolving field of behavioral science to understand the broad expanse of mental health issues occuring at any possible age.
- Assessment of the efficiency of standardized psychological tests and subsequent improvement of such tests to make patient treatment efficient.
- Gathering extensive knowledge of the mental illnesses through diagnosis and research as well as trying to develop new ways of treating such mental disorders.
How can I find a qualified psychologist?
Psychologists are usually associated with private practices as well as with hospitals, schools, colleges and community centers. Getting in touch with psychologists can be through referrals by supportive friends and family members. Since psychologists work in collaboration with members of the medical community, patients can also be referred to psychologists by their family physicians or medical personnel.
Furthermore, psychologists can be located online through searches using filters that will be able to narrow down your selection through reviews and location as well as the reason for treatment.
Once you make an appointment with the best clinical psychologist, they will employ a number of therapeutic techniques to help you manage your symptoms better. This may range from stress management techniques, mindfulness, relaxation, coping strategies, and more.
Oftentimes it is easier to find a clinical psychologist in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, or any other urban hub as they are more easily accessible. You can look for a clinical psychologist nearby online or look at aggregator sites to understand the mental health services close to you.
Depending on where you are based, you can search for key terms such as ‘best clinical psychologist in Bangalore’ or ‘psychologist near me’ to narrow down your search. If you find it difficult to find mental health help near you, you can always seek their services online.
Since psychologists work in collaboration with members of the medical community, patients can also be referred to psychologists by their family physicians or medical personnel.
How to choose the psychologist that’s right for me
The right psychologist may not always be the first one the patient goes to. Getting the perfect doctor who understands the exact issues of the patient and is able to break through the complications of mental issues is very difficult.
Sometimes, it is not about the success rate of the doctor or about their qualifications. It depends on whether or not the connection between the patient and their therapist strikes the right cord.
To make sure that you choose the right therapist, here are a few things to look at:
- Research about the psychologist and their qualifications: The psychologist needs to have the right qualifications that the patient should always cross-check before the appointment or while choosing the right one for them.
- Look for the experience and the type of patients that they have treated: Sometimes, it is not about the qualifications of the doctor only. It is important for the doctor to have prior experience in treating patients who have come to her with similar problems. Make a note of that.
- Check whether or not the clinical psychologist has a licence to practice: All clinical psychologists should have a licence that authorizes them to carry out their practise.
- Consult friends or family who might have visited a psychologist before: Another great way to choose the right psychologist is by asking the people you know and trust for recommendations. This can help you make the right decision.
- Do not settle: Keep rotating and changing your psychologist if you feel that you are not progressing. In some cases, you may not like the attitude of the doctor or have problems with their habits. When you are not satisfied with your therapist even for the minutest of matters, you should change them. Therapy is all about getting into the right frame of mind to share, hence getting the right psychologist for yourself is essential.
What should I expect from my first visit?
A typical visit to the clinical mental health counseling doctor often lasts for around 45 to 60 minutes. In order to understand the best way to help the patient and take stock of their mood, behavior and symptoms, the consultant clinical psychologist would have to ask many questions.
Here are the following things the patient might expect during their first appointment with a clinical psychologist or behavioral health counselor.
- Be prepared for several personal medical and non-medical questions from your doctor
- The doctor might also ask for family medical and addiction history
- You might feel an upsurge of different emotions and it is important to relay that to the doctor
- Both you and your clinical health psychology doctor will work towards creating a long-term plan for you
- If the doctor feels you need specialized treatment, they may refer you to another doctor
- Your first clinical psychotherapist might not be the right one for you
Questions to ask my psychologist
During the visit to the clinical psychologist, the situation can get quite intimidating for the first-timers. Hence, to ensure that the patient can get the best out of the therapy session, they should prepare the questions they want to ask earlier, so as to not miss anything. Such questions include:
- My problem is - anxiety, depression etc. How would you chart out my treatment plan?
- Have you treated similar cases?
- How should I calm myself in any sudden case of emergency?
- What type of therapy should I go for?
- How can I get my emotions under control?
- How can you treat depression without medications?
Getting a Diagnosis and Treatment plan
Clinical psychologists or therapists mostly try to understand the patient’s mood, behavior and reactions to several stimuli as part of the diagnosis. The idea is to understand the root cause of the troubles and hence develop the best possible treatment plan.
How do clinical psychologists treat their patients?
Major treatment approaches in clinical psychology include:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Treatment:
According to the British Association of Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies, "Cognitive and behavioral psychotherapies are a range of therapies based on concepts and principles derived from psychological models of human emotion and behavior.
They include a wide range of treatment approaches for emotional disorders, along with a continuum from structured individual psychotherapy to self-help material."
The main concept behind Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is that our thoughts and feelings about external stimuli in life play a fundamental role in our behavior.
The goal of this type of therapy is to make the patient understand that even though they cannot take control of every aspect and incident happening in their life, they can change their perception and reaction to it. In this way, they can interpret and deal with their surroundings in a way that is healthier.
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is an effective therapy that addresses most of the mental health conditions. Clinical Psychologists use CBT to address issues like Depression, Anxiety, Panic attack, Stress, Chronic pain, Eating disorders, Sleep disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Specific Phobias, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Addiction-related issues.
There are various types of cognitive behavioral therapy. Some of these types include the following:
- Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT): This type of CBT is about identifying and altering irrational beliefs.
- Cognitive Therapy: This form of therapy focuses on changing inaccurate or distorted thinking patterns, emotional responses, and behaviors.
- Multimodal Therapy: This suggests that psychological issues must be treated by addressing seven different but interconnected modalities, which are behavior, affect, sensation, imagery, cognition, interpersonal factors and drug/biological considerations.
Benefits of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT is a private, supportive process, which can help people to:
- Feel listened to and validated, feel their experiences, thoughts and feelings matter
- Be encouraged and have their strengths, and choices acknowledged
- Identify goals and learn strategies to achieve them
- Heal emotionally if they have experienced a loss or traumatic event
- Gain valuable information and awareness about issues affecting their life
- Develop approaches to enjoy life and relations, and handle problems better.
As a psychotherapeutic approach, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps individuals to learn new skills to deal with dysfunctional behaviours and emotions. This kind of therapy is used by Clinical Psychologists for both for individuals and groups to train them in recovering from addiction, depression, panic attacks, anxiety disorder and other phobias.
- Psychoanalytic Therapy:
The Psychoanalytic Therapy method is the most widely-used method of therapy. The goal of psychoanalytic therapy is to help patients better understand the unconscious tendencies that can play a role in their current behaviors, thoughts, and emotions. This particular treatment method is based on the work and theories of Sigmund Freud.
Psychoanalytic therapy delves into how the unconscious mind influences thoughts, mood and behaviors of the patient. Often, the main tools of the theory is to dive deep into the root causes of the person’s life in order to find out what incidents have shaped them into the way that they are.
When therapists perform psychoanalysis, they need to often look into the early childhood experiences of the patient in order to discover how those old events might have shaped the individual. The idea is to draw a map of the patient’s experiences and understand how these events can be responsible for making him act like they are doing currently.
Is Clinical Psychology confidential?
Yes, every conversation that the patient has with their clinical psychologist is protected by the patient-doctor privilege . Only certain special situations are exempted.
The psychologist can also reveal certain aspects of the conversations and issues with some of the family members if they feel that it is important. But this can only be done with the prior permission of the patient. Again, if the therapist thinks that the patient might do any harm to himself or the people around him, then they might have to share the information with family and loved ones.
How do I know if therapy is working?
Here are some of the signs that clinical and mental health counseling is working for you:
- You will look forward to therapy appointments
- You start to have fun and actually have a good time with your friends
- You do not feel secluded in friend groups and do not feel as much ‘in over your head’
- You start focusing on the present and take better decisions
- You feel the need for self-care and fitness
- You have finally started applying all the methods that the therapist has suggested and they seem to be working
- You take up a new hobby and focus on building up your skills
- Work and academic performance seems to be improving
- Your sleep and eating patterns start to become normal
- Appetite issues disappear and you seem to be at a healthy weight
This normally happens if the patient can accept that they have a mental disorder and is able to undertake the mood shifts, behavioral patterns and other habits that the mental health counseling therapist has pointed out.
Getting help for mental illness
Here are some of the main signs that you (or a loved one) need to consider therapy from a clinical psychologist:
- Feeling an overwhelming or helpless feeling for a long time; including a sense of prolonged sadness.
- If you feel a loss of control and helplessness for a long period, and you don’t feel mentally better even after help from family and friends.
- Difficulty in carrying out your daily routine, can’t focus on work, and trouble increasing your productivity.
- Your anxiety levels increase, you keep worrying for a prolonged time, and you’re constantly on edge.
- When your actions are harmful to others and yourself.
Booking an appointment with a clinical psychologist can have a positive impact on your mental health. They can help you sort out your issues and manage symptoms to live a functional and happy life.
Cadabams is a leading Psychiatric Hospital for mental illness with a team of reputed clinical psychologists. With a team of best Clinical Psychologists in India, Cadabams Hospitals treats all kinds of mental health conditions including Anxiety, Depression, Schizophrenia, OCD amongst others. We have a stellar team of renowned and experienced Clinical Psychologists in India supported by specialist doctors, top therapists, registered mental health nurses and social workers.
Visit Cadabam’s Psychiatric Hospital for your next mental health consultation. Call us on our mental health helpline +91 97414 76476 for further details or mental health emergencies.