Mental Health Practitioners
12 Clinical Psychology
STEP 4 Review the Knowledge You Need to Score High
• A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (MD) and the only mental health professional who can prescribe medication (in most regions) or perform surgery. Psychiatrists generally take a biological approach to treating major disorders such as schizophrenia and depressive disorder. Their medical training includes an approved residency in a psychiatric section of a hospital. Psychiatrists are not required to take courses dealing with insight, psychoanalytic, behavioral, cognitive, or humanistic therapeutic approaches.
• Clinical psychologists must earn a doctoral degree (PhD or a PsyD), which includes a supervised internship and then a licensing exam. Their training does emphasize different therapeutic approaches. Both psychiatrists and clinical psychologists see patients with similar disorders. Since many problems respond best to a combination of medication and supportive psychotherapy, clinical psychologists often work with psychiatrists.
• Counseling psychologists typically have one of a number of different advanced degrees (PhD, EdD, PsyD, or MA in counseling) and tend to deal with less severe mental health problems in college settings, or in marital and family therapy practices. In the latter, they try not to assign blame but provide a supportive ear to all parties and help clarify the feelings of each individual to the others.
• Psychoanalysts may or may not be psychiatrists, but all follow the teaching of Freud and practice psychoanalysis or other psychodynamic therapies. They receive extensive training and self-analysis with a more experienced psychoanalyst before they begin their treatment of patients.
• Clinical or psychiatric social workers typically have earned a master’s degree or doctoral degree in social work (MSW or DSW), which includes a supervised internship, and have passed a certification exam.
Other mental health care professionals include psychiatric nurse practitioners and pastoral counselors who combine spiritual guidance with practical counseling.
While many medical insurance plans will pay for the services of psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, counseling psychologists, and clinical social workers, they will not pay for the services of unlicensed therapists. In many places, anyone can call himself or herself a therapist without having any training.