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3 Things You May Not Know About Psychologists

Psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist, psychotherapist… What’s the difference?


There’s a lot of buzz nowadays about mental health and self-care, but who does what and who should we go to if we find ourselves struggling? We want to pick the option that best serves our needs. To help you navigate the sometimes confusing world of mental health, here are three things you might not have known about psychologists.


1. In-Depth Assessments


Any mental health professional you may choose to see will want to know about your background and the presenting problem(s) in order to help find the best treatment option for you. This can take many forms, including anything from informal self-reports to specialized tests. Psychologists use psychometrics to conduct their assessments. Psychometrics are measures—tests and questionnaires—, which provide insight into a wide variety of areas for each client, including areas such as: cognition, intelligence and personality, in addition to mental and emotional wellbeing. This means that psychologists are able to consider a wide variety of factors when treating clients, and provide tailored treatments for each individual.


2. Diagnosis and Treatment


Based on the information received during assessments, psychologists are trained to consider presenting symptoms and to determine whether the client meets the criteria and qualifies for a specific diagnosis. Providing a psychiatric diagnosis is a “controlled act”, which means only some professions such as psychologists, psychiatrists and physicians are regulated to do so.  Psychologists are able to treat a variety of disorders by providing treatments. Sometimes, it is necessary to couple medication with counselling, and this is where a psychologist would refer a client to a medical doctor such as a psychiatrist or general practitioner, who would work as part of a client’s treatment team, in partnership with the psychologist.


3.  Training


There are many vocational positions to be held within the mental health field, and there are many different paths one can take to become a mental health professional. A psychologist will have spent about ten years completing an undergraduate education, a Master’s degree in psychology, and a PhD or PsyD.  In Canada, accredited clinical psychology training programs adhere to a “scientist-practitioner” model, which means that psychologists are trained to conduct research as well as provide clinical care. This allows for psychologists to understand and interpret the most up-to-date research findings, and apply them in their practice.  In order to practice psychologists must be registered with the College of Psychologists of Ontario, the professional body that regulates the profession.


For more information about the profession of clinical psychology, visit the Canadian Psychological Association at https://www.cpa.ca/public/whatisapsychologist/

Mehak Jamil, Social Media Content Writer/Editor, York Region CBT