1. How do I know if I need professional Help?
When difficulties are very severe there is little question about the need to consult a mental health Professional. For non-obvious situations, the basics are to ask yourself the following questions:
1. How much time is consumed by the problem,
2. How much does the problem interfere with normal life activities such as school, work, or relationships, and
3. How much distress is the problem causing, either to the person him or herself or to those who are involved in that individual’s life.
Sometimes the best answer may be found by honest and accurate self-examination or by heeding the concerns of loved ones. Remember, it is better to find out your difficulties are not as bad as you think than delay needed treatment and wind up in an increasingly serious condition. For mental health issues, the earlier that intervention occurs, the greater the chances of success. One thing is certain -- psychological problems do not go away on their own.
2. How do I find a psychotherapist?
Deciding that professional assistance is needed leads to the very complex matter of how to obtain such help. For many, it begins with asking for a referral from a family doctor (It’s always a good idea to have a physical check-up to rule out a specific physiological cause.). Others look for guidance from their health insurance or employee assistance plan. Still others ask trusted friends. Most people now-a-days do their research on the Internet or by looking in the Yellow Pages. Whatever your path, the MOST important thing is for you to make that first appointment. That is the hardest part. And if you make that first appointment -- show up for it -- don't cancel or be a no-show. It's normal to feel apprehensive before the first appointment. Procrastination can often result in the exacerbation of psychological issues. Also, generally speaking, the longer one waits to seek help, the longer course therapy takes. Sometimes it is necessary to speak to a number of psychotherapists before finding the best approach or "fit" for yourself. You must feel comfortable with your psychotherapist for therapy to be successful.
3. What is the difference between a Psychotherapist, a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?
Simply stated, a psychiatrist is a medical doctor. After completing medical school (usually 4 years) those doctors who wish to specialize in Psychiatry will spend the next 3 or 4 years of their residency working with patients in the psychiatric department of the hospital. The treat-ment modality most often utilized by psychiatrists is pharmacological, but can also include psychotherapy. They have specific training in the use of medications for the treatment of emotional and behavioral problems. Generally speaking, they focus on the more severely disturbed clients / patients who require a combination of medicine and therapy. These would include psychotic patients, schizophrenic patients, patients with severe and life-threatening eating disorders and suicidal patients.
A psychologist has a Doctorate degree in psychology from an accredited university and has to be registered in Ontario with the Ontario Society of Psychologists (OSP). The Ph.D or Psy.D typically takes 4 years of study after the Bachelor of Arts Degree and Master's degree have been obtained and includes a minimum of two years of full-time clinical experience under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. Psychologists’ training emphasizes diagnosing and treating psychological and behavioral issues. Psychologists with a Ph.D. are trained under the scientist-practitioner model (strong foundation in research and scientific practice in addition to application of this knowledge to the treatment of emotional and behavioral problems), while Psy.D. graduates are schooled following the practitioner-scholar model (predominantly emphasizes clinical practice).
A psychotherapist has a minimum of a Master of Arts Degree, usually in Counselling Psychology. In addition, they have taken many courses specifically in psychotherapy and worked under the supervision of a psychologist for varying degrees of time -- depending upon the institution they are attending. The Adler Instutue of Professional Psychology, from where I graduated, has one of the most rigourous requirements: 1000 hours of clinical supervision. Psycotherapists tend to see clients who can function in day-to-day life, but have psychological issues, or need support / help. This would include things like anxiety disorders, depression, OCD, panic disorders, PTSD, relationship problems, self esteem issues, career counselling, etc.
Is it OK to ask my psychotherapist questions?
Not only is it appropriate to ask questions and clarify your concerns with your psychotherapist; it is advisable. Having numerous questions is the norm rather than the exception when it comes to the field of behavioral and mental health. In fact, it is typical to have a chance for “questions and answers” as part of the initial consultation. There are no restrictions on the kind of questions you may ask. The whole concept actually is that “here is a place that anything may be discussed, no matter how unusual or potentially awkward”. By definition, sessions are totally confidential (with the major exception being if there is imminent and specific threat to self or others). Remember, you have sought out your practitioner because you are looking for answers. So ask your questions without hesitation.
Harbourfront Psychotherapy • Beaches Psychotherapy • Toronto