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  1. #1

    Counsellor vs. psychologist vs. psychiatrist, etc.

    ok, so I have tried to figure this out and I don't really know what the answer is. I have always thought that counsellors deal w/ more "every day problems" or at least not very serious, pathological ones. And that psychiatrists differ from psychologists in terms of their medical training and thus maybe somewhat different approach? Anyways, my point is, how do you know which one is best for treating a disorder/issue? The reason why I'm asking I guess is b/c I am starting to see this counsellor (who is still finishing his degree anyways) for issues ie. ed's.... would it really make a big difference if I were to go to either a Psychologist or Psychiatrist??? I am not seeking to do either one and I am not "in treatment" for an ed but it's one of the issues being discussed..... how do you know if someone has "enough" training for a particular area? And do the three differ in their approaches ie. do counsellors use the same kind of techniques/methods of therapy than a psychologist/psychiatrist????

  2. #2

    Counsellor vs. psychologist vs. psychiatrist, etc.

    The designation "counselor" isn't very precise and can refer to different practitioners with a wide variety of backgrounds and training, any where from a bachelor's degree in general counseling to a master's degree in specialized counseling. Some of the work many psychologists do probably also comes under the heading of counseling - it is really a type of help that advises and guides clients through life issues and dilemmas.

    Therapy is a bit more than counseling and requires greater knowledge and training. Psychologists and psychiatrists are specifically trained in psychotherapy, as are some social workers. Typically, a Ph.D. level psychologist will have 7+ years of training at a university followed by a minimum of a year in an internship setting followed by at least a year of supervised practice before becoming a fully licensed practitioner (i.e., 9+ years of training and experience minimum). A licensed MSW (Master of Social Work) will have usually a minimum of 5+ years of training. A psychiatrist first receives a medical degree and then completes additional training in psychiatry as a resident; the medical background is what uniquely qualifies the psychiatrist to prescribe medication for mental disorders. Psychologists do not prescribe medication (normally) but often have more specific training in psychotherapy than many psychiatrists, and many psychiatrists these days restrict their practice to diagnosis and presecribing medications, leaving the psychotherapy to psychologists and social workers.

  3. #3

    Counsellor vs. psychologist vs. psychiatrist, etc.

    thanks David. very precise answer! so would you say though, that it matters who I go see now or in the long run?? I know they're all trained and I understand the differences in the training themselves and the length of time, but in the end, who do you think is "better" in this case??? w/ counselor I meant someone who is in the Counseling Program through the Education Department and not the Department of Psychology. I'm pretty sure this is his internship so I guess that means he has at least a Masters (?!). and they all work in conjunction w/ certified psychologists etc....

  4. #4

    Counsellor vs. psychologist vs. psychiatrist, etc.

    To be truthful, there is a lot of variability in the training certified counselors get - some are excellent, some not so good.

    If I recall correctly, you are dealing with an eating disorder, possible body image issues, and I think PTSD? If so, the most important factor would probably be how much experience this counselor has with those issues. They are somewhat complex. The next question to ask would be who the supervisor is and what the experience and training of the supervisor is.

    Eating disorders and PTSD are issues which require specific training and an understanding of how and why they develop, what issues tend to be associated with those primary problem areas, and alternatives to treatment.

    There's nothing wrong with quizzing your new therapist on these issues: This is after all, your life and your therapy. Above all, you need to have confidence in the person you are trusting to guide toward positive change.

  5. #5

    Counsellor vs. psychologist vs. psychiatrist, etc.

    Can I just say that technically I am a trained counsellor because of the counselling course that I have done but I would not really know how to help many people, I did my course because I was a social worker for a little while (I now work in child care). Anyway my flat mate sees a psychiatrists and they are more interested in medicating her than in helping her sort through issues and I have found this with others, so personally I am all for psychologists. I go to a psychologist and when I can't go to her anymore I will go to another psychologist if I feel I still need more! Just wanted to add my 2 cents worth you can both dismiss it as crap if you wish but yeah!!!


  6. #6

    Counsellor vs. psychologist vs. psychiatrist, etc.

    yes, eating disorders and body image are the main issues... but no, I don't have PTSD. there's family issues and other things like si but they're not as bad I guess.... and yes, I think it's a good idea to ask him about his background and the supervisor's... I would hate to talk to someone who has no idea what to do w/ ed's, b/c it took me so long to go to someone it would be so much worse if that person wasn't very competent in that area. and one thing is for sure, this is not going to be easy b/c I'm so ambivalent about things and feel like I don't even know how to get out of that mind set at all, so it would really help to have someone who knows how to work w/ that.

    Heather, I totally know what you mean w/ technically being a trained counsellor but not having the actual expertise to help people or w/ certain issues. I'm doing my BA in Psych and people even now expect me to have things figured out which is so beyond the truth b/c all you do is sit in class... I do have a job in the field and volunteer etc. so I am more inolved than just going to class but yes, by no means does that mean that I am the least qualified or would know what to do either. I think that's what a lot of people forget.

    but then again, shouldn't a counselor at a univ. be honest and say, actually, I don't have much knowledge/expertise w/ this issue if they don't???

  7. #7

    Counsellor vs. psychologist vs. psychiatrist, etc.

    Sometimes inexperienced counselors may not realize that they don't have the necessary experience or training to deal with an issue... but again asking about the counselors training and experience is the best way to find that out.

  8. #8

    Counsellor vs. psychologist vs. psychiatrist, etc.

    I read today in my text that clinicians have an obligation to accurately represent themselves (which I knew) but that this also means that that they should not attempt treatment or assessment procedures if they lack specific training or supervised experience. I want to know how much training or relevant supervision this counselor has in terms of ed's... b/c I swear, I am NOT putting in all this effort (or am going to) if he doesn't even know what he's doing. this isn't easy. this isn't something that happened to me yesterday or that can be fixed by simply changing a few negative thought patterns. interesting though that competence is an actual ethical standard for clinicians! but it totally makes sense.

  9. #9

    Counsellor vs. psychologist vs. psychiatrist, etc.

    You are correct, Eunoia.

    Those mental health professionals who are licensed by a regulatory board do have an obligation to work only in areas in which they have expertise. For example, the College of Psychologists of Ontario specifies that any Registered Psychologist who wishes to expand his/her practice into an area s/he has not previously wroked or had training must receive educational training equivalent to what would be required of a new applicant for registration. As an example, I am not a child psychologist. If I wished to practice in child psychology, I would be expected to recieve training equivalent to that provided to a graduate in child psychology.

    The problem is that anyone can call himself or herself a therapist or counselor and set up a practice without any licensing whatsoever. If you have doubts about a therapist, ask about that therapists training, expewrience, and credentials (i.e., licensing). If the therapist cannot provide you with that information, ask yourself (and the therapist) why not.



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