What is the difference between a Marriage & Family Therapist, Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?
There are several disciplines within the mental health community of which three are: Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, and Psychiatrists.
Marriage & Family Therapists are specifically trained to address mental health issues within the context of relationship. Relationships exist with others (e.g., members of a person’s first family, family of choice, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances), within the “self” (both conscious and unconscious awareness) and potentially with God depending on spirituality. Marriage & Family Therapists are equipped to help people address mental health concerns within each of these broad and specific relationship areas.
Psychologists are mental health professionals who are qualified to conduct testing to understand and diagnose mental health issues. Clinical Psychologists often provide counseling services in addition to testing, generally with a focus on behaviors. School Psychologists generally work in school settings and specialize in behavioral, intellectual, and social assessments of children and adolescents in order to obtain the services and supports necessary for each individual to reach his or her full potential.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating mental illness through use of psychotropic medications that are designed to alter the way the brain and body function. As medical doctors, psychiatrists can also manage potential interactions between different psychotropic medications and also other medications that may have been prescribed. Some psychiatrists may provide occasional therapy but they primarily provide medication.
I’ve never talked to anyone. I’m used to handling things on my own. Aren’t people who go to therapy weak?
Not at all. People who ask for help know when they need it and have the ability to reach out. Everyone needs help now and then. You already have some strengths that you’ve used before, that for whatever reason isn’t working right now. Perhaps this problem feels overwhelming and is making it difficult to access your past strengths. In our work together, I’ll help you identify what those strengths are and how to implement them again in what is happening now.
What’s the difference between talking to you or my best friend or family?
The difference is between someone who can do something, and someone who has the training and experience to do that same thing professionally. A mental health professional can help you approach your situation in a new way– teach you new skills, gain different perspectives, listen to you without judgment or expectations, and help you listen to yourself. Furthermore, therapy is completely confidential. You won’t have to worry about others “knowing my business.” Lastly, if your situation provokes a great deal of negative emotion, if you’ve been confiding in a friend or family member, there is the risk that once you are feeling better you could start avoiding that person so you aren’t reminded of this difficult time in your life.
Why shouldn’t I just take medication?
Medication alone cannot solve all issues. What medication does is treat the symptoms. Our work together is designed to explore the root of the issue, dig deep into your behavior and teach strategies that can help you accomplish your personal and/or relational goals.
Medication can be effective and is sometimes needed in conjunction with therapy.
How does it work? What do I have to do in sessions?
Because each person has different issues and goals for therapy, therapy will be different depending on the individual. I tailor my therapeutic approach to your specific needs
How long will it take?
Unfortunately, this is not possible to say in a general FAQs page. Everyone’s circumstances are unique to them and the length of time therapy can take to allow you to accomplish your goals depends on your desire for personal development, your commitment, and the factors that are driving you to seek therapy in the first place.
I want to get the most out of therapy. What can I do to help?
I am so glad you are dedicated to getting the most out of your sessions. Your active participation and dedication is crucial to your success. After all, we only see each other for a session a week. It’s the work you do outside of our sessions that will really help you see your personal growth and development.
My partner and I are having problems. Should we be in individual counseling or come together?
If you are concerned about your relationship, and you would both like to work with me, I would initially work with both of you together. After this work, if one of you would like to continue in individual sessions, I could work with only one of you. It is not helpful to move from individual into couple’s work with the same therapist because of potential trust issues.