What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
Psychologists are trained to understand the causes and maintaining factors for human behaviour, in theories relating to managing and changing human behaviour and in the assessment and treatment of psychological difficulties. They are trained to evaluate research on the effectiveness of various therapy models and to be able to apply these therapies in a flexible way to benefit the individual.
Psychiatrists are medical professionals with general medical training who have specialised in mental health, in the same way that other medical professionals may specialise in various forms of surgery or in general practice. Psychiatrists therefore specialise in prescribing medication which can assist in managing mental illnesses.
Psychologists and psychiatrists often work together to provide comprehensive management and support for complex mental health issues.
What is the difference between a clinical psychologist, psychologist, counsellor and therapist?
Psychologists and clinical psychologists complete 4 years of undergraduate study in human behaviour at university.
Clinical psychologists then complete further specialised training at a postgraduate level (i.e., Masters or Doctorate degrees) focussed on the assessment, diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses and complex psychological problems. Clinical Psychologists are therefore specialists in the application of psychological theories and scientific research to solve complex psychological problems and to develop individually tailored interventions.
Psychologists do not complete this additional postgraduate training and instead complete 2 years of supervised general practice.
In order to practice as a Psychologist or Clinical Psychologist in New South Wales individuals must register with the NSW Psychology Board of Australia. This ensures that psychologists have the appropriate training as described above.
Many Clinical Psychologists are also members of the Australian Psychological Society (APS). In order to be a member of the APS, psychologists must ensure that they meet certain ethical and professional standards and that they remain up to date with the most recent advances in the treatment of psychological conditions through ongoing training and professional development. Information about the service you can expect to receive from an APS psychologist can be found on the APS website: http://www.psychology.org.au/public/APS-psychologists/
Unlike psychologists, there is no requirement to be registered with any governing body in order to practice as a counsellor or therapist and there is no legislation which limits the use of these titles. This means that the practice of counsellors and therapists may not be monitored to ensure that it adheres to certain ethical and professional standards.
When should I seek professional help?
We usually recommend that people seek professional support when their psychological or emotional difficulties are impacting on their daily life such as difficulty managing at work or school or reduced social interactions with others.
Therapy can also be beneficial in improving your skills in a particular area such as public speaking or conflict resolution. You do not have to have a serious or chronic mental health concern to see a psychologist and experience benefit from therapy. In fact, research suggests that getting support early (before problems become severe) is the best approach to supporting positive wellbeing.
Emotional difficulties can happen to anyone and may arise at any age. There is no such thing as being too old or too young to seek treatment. Our psychologists are trained to work with patients of all ages from young children through to older adults. It is never too late or too early to seek assistance in managing your difficulties more effectively and improving your wellbeing.
If you are unsure whether therapy can assist you and you would like to discuss this further please contact us on 02 8814 5703 or firstname.lastname@example.org or complete our general enquiry form. We would be happy to hear from you and discuss how we can work together to achieve your goals.
My child is in preschool. Is it too early to see a psychologist?
Difficulties such as anxiety and behaviour issues commonly emerge around 3 years of age. Early intervention is important for teaching children the skills to become confident and resilient adults. Difficulties in childhood can impact on a child’s overall development in emotional, social and academic domains and therapy can assist in reducing this impact through developing effective coping skills. Families with children as young as 3 can benefit from working with a psychologist; it is never too early to seek professional support.
Is medication an effective substitute for therapy?
The short answer is no, medication is not an effective substitute for therapy.
Medication is sometimes used in combination with therapy to improve overall response to treatment. Medication is also sometimes a necessary course of action, particularly in the case of more severe presenting concerns such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Although medication may assist in alleviating some of the impact of psychological issues it does not resolve them, so if you stop taking the medication the difficulties you were experiencing are likely to return. In contrast, therapy teaches you skills to manage your difficulties more effectively and can help you to resolve any underlying issues, resulting in greater long term benefits than medication alone can provide.
If you would like to know more about whether medication is an appropriate option for you in addition to your therapy please discuss this directly with your therapist.
Is therapy confidential?
Yes. Psychologists are ethically bound to keep information about you private and confidential. We will not disclose to anyone details about your attendance at the practice. We also do not provide your contact details, personal information, or information pertaining to your treatment to anyone without your consent.
Psychologists also have an ethical and legal obligation to protect you and others from harm and may be required to disclose information to third parties in the following circumstances:
- If there is a risk of serious harm to you or another person, including a child
- If there is a legal obligation to do so (e.g., a subpoena, information about a serious crime)
In all other circumstances information about you is only shared with third parties with your consent.
Do you provide therapy under the WorkCover or ATAPS schemes?
No, Dr Amy Talbot & Associates is currently unable to provide services for individuals referred through WorkCover or under the Access to Applied Psychological Services schemes.