FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. Just what exactly is psychology anyway?
Psychology is the study of human behavior which includes thoughts, behaviors, emotions, physiology, and social interactions.
2. What is a clinical psychologist?
Clinical psychologists have a doctoral degree (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) in psychology. They have advanced training in the science of human behavior. Psychologists usually specialize in diagnosing and treating emotional disorders. In addition to coursework, they complete supervised practicums, internships, and post graduate degree training.
3. What other kinds of professionals practice psychotherapy?
Counselors, social workers, and some psychiatrists provide psychotherapy. Counselors and social workers usually have a Master’s degree and additional supervised practice. Psychiatrists have a medical degree usually followed by a post graduate residency in psychiatry. Not all psychiatrists practice psychotherapy, preferring to prescribe medications for these disorders--you have to ask.
4. Where can I find a good referral?
State professional associations (for psychology, psychiatry, counseling, and social work) usually have lists of good providers. Insurance companies may also provide similar lists. Local colleges and universities sometimes can help find affordable help. Since we especially advocate empirically supported treatments, you might find these websites to have especially good, well trained providers: http://www.abct.org and www.academyofct.org
5. What do you think about doing therapy online?
You can find great resources online in terms of references and answers to questions. However, we believe that psychotherapy is not readily deliverable in this manner, at least at this time. A possible exception could be if a given provider and patient both have excellent video and audio connections, but even that practice could encounter some difficulties with licensure issues across state lines and insurance coverage. The amount of information we get from sitting directly across from clients is invaluable.
6. What do I do if someone I care about seems to be having an emotional problem?
The first thing you can do is become informed about the problem yourself. Many of our readers have reported that the books we’ve written in the For Dummies series have been quite helpful to them while also providing strategies for working with loved ones. Another thing you can do is offer the person resources such as self help books and other literature on the topic. You can also help coach the person in conjunction with a therapist’s input. You can suggest a loved one get help. But you cannot make anyone seek treatment unless it’s a young child in your custody--besides, forcing treatment rarely works.
7. What is a psychological evaluation?
Clinical psychologists and neuropsychologists usually perform psychological evaluations. Such evaluations often include a comprehensive interview, background questionnaires, and various psychological tests. The result is a careful diagnosis and treatment plan when applicable. Such an evaluation is usually a good idea when the presenting problem is complex or there is any lack of clarity as to what’s going on.
8. What kinds of treatments do you recommend?
We do not adhere to any strict, single focused theoretical orientation. However, we do strongly recommend that people seek treatments that are supported by research findings. Cognitive behavior therapies often have demonstrated effectiveness in such studies, but there are other therapies with demonstrated potential as well.
9. What is bibliotherapy and does it work?
Bibliotherapy, one form of self help, requires you to read books and/or articles about your problems and provides strategies for helping you overcome them. Dozens of studies have shown that this approach is often quite helpful, either on its own or as a supplement to psychotherapy. However, if your problems are serious or severe, you should not rely on self help alone.
10. How can psychology improve my life?
Psychology has much to offer people, not only in terms of helping them overcome emotional difficulties, but also in enhancing their life satisfaction and well being. See http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu/ for specific ideas about how to improve your life.
11. What topics do you speak on?
We have conducted professional training and workshops for all types of mental health professionals on treating depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorders, borderline personality disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, child psychology, schema therapy, and integrative approaches to treatment. For the public, we have given talks on stress management, depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, parenting, child psychology, life enrichment, and personality disorders.
12. How do I know if I really need professional help?
If you are unhappy much of the time, feel suicidal, can’t function as well as you’d like on the job or at home, have trouble getting along with others, or experience a range of physical symptoms such as dizziness, tension, or fatigue--consider getting yourself checked out. Start with your physician to rule out physical causes, but get help. If you’re even asking this question seriously, you probably could benefit from a visit to a therapist to see what’s going on.
13. What causes mental illness?
Most scientists believe that mental illness is caused by multiple, interacting factors. These include genetics, learning history, family issues, parenting, trauma, and other biological processes. It’s generally impossible to know exactly to what extent each of these factors is responsible for any given person’s problems.