Psychology is the scientific study of behavioral change and mental processes in human beings. Clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, and counseling psychologists are some of the experts in the field of psychology. Although the aforementioned groups focus on the same field, their education background and treatment techniques differ slightly. The following text explores the professional training and services of clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, and counseling psychologists citing their differences and similarities.
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A clinical psychologist undergoes a four-year training program in a clinical setting. There after, he/she pursues a doctorate program, which lasts about five to six years to become a doctor of philosophy (researcher) or a doctor of psychology (practitioner) depending on the areas of specialization. In a similar way, a counseling psychologist undergoes four-year training program plus a doctorate degree in either philosophy or psychology.
Moreover, a counseling psychologist has to attain a doctorate degree in education, but under counseling psychology. The specialists also require a two-year internship program under supervision in order to acquire a practicing license. On the other hand, a psychiatrist earns a medical degree after which he/she takes a four-year program to acquire a license as a medical expert.
Therefore, although the three groups undergo training in a clinical setting, a psychiatrist is a medical doctor, which differentiates him/her from psychologists. However, the internship training has a similar duration of two years in all the three specialists.
All the three experts in psychology can treat people of all ages; however, the differences lie in the level of the mental disorder. For instance, a clinical psychologist diagnoses and treats mental disorders, social difficulties, drug addiction, and offers psychological assessment reports especially in legal matters. On the other hand, a counseling psychologist deals in similar cases like a clinical psychologist, but he or she deals only with minor cases using psychotherapeutic techniques.
Furthermore, he or she has to work in a medical setting, which is not the case with the counseling psychologist. On the contrary, a psychiatrist studies, prevents, asses, diagnose and treats mental problems of biological nature. While a psychiatrist can give medication to the patient, a psychologist lacks the power to do so.
Clinical and counseling psychologists use theoretical approaches to treat their patients. For instance, they use cognitive behavior therapy to rectify and compel their patients to acquire acceptable behaviors. Some of the techniques used include Validity; a test whereby the patient supports his/her beliefs, while the cognitive rehearsal prepares the individual to solve future problems.
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The therapists may also ask the patient to carry out specified assignments and keep a diary as a means of encouragement. The use of rewards like gifts and prizes are to reinforce the patient’s behavior. On the other hand, physiatrists mostly prescribe medications as serotonin inhibitors and benzodiazepines, which treat anxiety.
Personally, I value psychologists because of their expertise in controlling stress in human beings. Incase of social and emotional imbalance, I will undoubtedly visit a counseling psychologist. However, if the case becomes severe, I will then consider the services of a psychiatrist or a clinical psychologist. In my opinion, I treasure psychological treatment especially in dealing with social problems.
In conclusion, clinical and counseling psychologists have a similar educational background after which they take different routes of specialization. Both of the two professionals deal with mental, social, and emotional problems; nevertheless, the counselor only takes on the minor cases. On the other hand, a psychiatrist has a medical degree and specializes in psychiatry where s/he deals mainly with mental disorders. The method of diagnosis and treatment for psychiatrist differs markedly from that of psychologists as mentioned above.