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Difference Between Counseling And Clinical Psychology

by Lyndon Langley
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Difference Between Counseling And Clinical Psychology

Difference Between Counseling And Clinical Psychology

There are two types of psychologists you might encounter in your life: one is trained as a counselor and another is trained as a clinician. The difference between these two fields may not be immediately obvious, but it’s important that you understand this distinction because counselors tend to do more work with healthy people than clinicians do, while clinicians tend to do more work with those suffering from mental illnesses. Let’s take a look at what each field does.

Counselors help improve general quality of life by working with healthy clients. One way they can accomplish this goal is by teaching their patients how to use positive psychology techniques (such as gratitude journals) to change their outlook on life. In short, they try to help people become happier. Another strategy counselors employ is cognitive behavioral therapy, which teaches patients skills such as coping with anxiety, anger and depression. These strategies work best when used in conjunction with medication management and/or psychotherapy.

Clinical psychologists also help maintain and improve overall health through psychological interventions, but unlike counselors, they often specialize in treating mental disorders. For example, someone diagnosed with schizophrenia could see a psychiatrist and receive antipsychotic medications, talk therapies and/or group treatment. But if she was instead seeing a clinical psychologist, she would likely get individualized attention specific to her needs. She’d be taught cognitive behavior therapy and given educational resources about managing symptoms. And, if necessary, she’d also be prescribed medication for her condition.

This article will explain why there’s a difference between the types of services provided by counselors and clinicians and why this matters. Then we’ll discuss whether or not you should choose a therapist based solely upon his or her training or background.

The Difference Between Counselors And Clinicians
When most people think about psychologists, they envision a person sitting behind a desk, wearing a white lab coat, conducting interviews and testing participants’ IQs. While that image is accurate, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Psychologists come in all shapes, sizes and backgrounds, just like the rest of us. Some chose careers in psychology because they love helping others; others chose it because they wanted to make money. Still others were trying to figure out what field they wanted to go into before discovering they had an aptitude for psychology.

Some psychologists practice outside of academia — they’re therapists, social workers and coaches. They may even run businesses themselves. Others may teach college level courses on psychology. Regardless of where they end up practicing, every licensed psychologist has a master’s degree in psychology. Many also hold bachelor’s degrees in psychology, nursing, medicine or education. There are also many psychologists who’ve earned doctorate degrees in counseling and human development, among other things.

Clinicians usually earn their degrees after earning a bachelor’s degree. Although they may also have master’s degrees in counseling, few actually obtain doctoral degrees in psychology. Additionally, only licensed clinicians can conduct tests or provide therapy. However, it’s possible for someone to train to become a clinician without ever having taken a course on psychology. After completing a program such as the American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists’, a practitioner can sit for certification exams so he can call himself a hypnotherapist. He won’t need any additional training to treat patients using hypnosis, though.

In summary, although both counselors and clinicians can offer similar services, the differences between the two fields are important. If you want to find a professional who understands multiple approaches, then a counselor may serve you better. On the other hand, if you have a particular problem or disorder, then a clinician may be able to better assist you. It all depends on what you need.
So now let’s say you’ve decided that you need assistance from a professional. Should you seek a counselor or a clinician? The answer isn’t simple. First, consider whether you want someone who specializes in general psychology or in treating your particular issue. Next, ask yourself if you prefer someone who focuses primarily on mental health issues or physical health issues. Finally, consider your budget. Does it cost less per session to see a counselor or a clinician? Each of these factors affects your choice.

If you decide to hire a counselor, check credentials. You should always consult with a licensed member of the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). Also, find out if the counselor holds certifications from organizations such as the American Psychological Association (APA), the International Society of Addiction Professionals (ISA) or the American Academy of Psychoanalysis (AAPS). Depending on your location, you may want to ensure that the counselor is board certified in family therapy, marriage and family therapy, or gerontology.

If you decide to hire a clinician, research him online. Check out his website, read testimonials and interview prospective patients to learn about his experience and expertise. Ask about his philosophy regarding treatment, his approach to your problem and his success rate with previous clients. Remember that anyone can claim to be a “psychologist.” So don’t automatically believe everything you hear or read. Interview several candidates to determine whom you feel comfortable talking to.
Finally, remember that no matter what type of professional you choose, you shouldn’t expect instant results. Therapy takes time to develop a good rapport with your therapist, build trust and establish goals. Keep in mind that you’re going to meet with your provider regularly, sometimes daily, so give yourself enough time to process what you learned during sessions and adjust accordingly.

For more information on different types of professionals, please visit the links on the following page.

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