Hi. This is Varudhini.
So, the most common names that you’d hear in mental health would be Psychiatrist and Psychologist. Psychiatrists have a medical degree. And Psychologists have degrees in Masters or a Ph.D. or a psyche program. That is the difference educationally.
Psychiatrists are the ones who diagnose and prescribe medication to the patients. But, Psychologists don’t do that. Psychologists are more focused on treatment.
‘What is the person going through?’
‘What can we do to help the person cope with what they’re facing?’
And also, under the Psychologist realm, there are Counseling Psychologists and Clinical Psychologists. So again, there are parts of Psychology that are differently taken care of, by different people. Most common one is called the Counseling Psychologist.
Psychologists who are not only dealing with people with mental conditions, but predominantly work with people with everyday problems. People who’re just struggling to try and cope with their feelings. People who’re struggling and overwhelmed with what’s happening in their lives, and they don’t know how to go about it. So, talking to someone in the area of Counseling will help them sort that out.
And the Counseling Psychologist will help determine whether you need an evaluation or if the condition you’re going through needs a little bit more attention and evaluation, and maybe, medication. And that’s when the Counseling Psychologist will send you to the Psychiatrist. Counseling Psychologists in India are not licensed.
So, you want to make sure that you’re going to the right person. They have to have a Masters degree or a Ph.D. degree in Counseling or have extensive years of practice . Once you’ve found a Counseling Psychologist it’s really important for you to maintain a rapport with your therapist.
And what that means is, you need to feel comfortable with your therapist. You need to feel like your therapist isn’t judging you. Nothing in life is right and wrong. It’s not black and white. A lot of things in life are gray. And you want your therapist to be non-judgmental. Accepting of who you are. And is able to understand what you’re saying.
So, use your first interaction with your therapist as a way to understand if you’re comfortable with your therapist. So, the next question would be, what is therapy then?
Therapy is a therapeutic relationship between you and your therapist or counselor. What that really means is, the Counselor is there to help you, to introspect what is happening in your life. It’s a chance for you to look in and dig deep into why you’re feeling certain things are unbearable or overwhelming.
What are the challenges you’re facing?
What has happened in your life that has impacted you?
What are your behavioral patterns?
Because actually, we behave in patterns. And, once you understand what your behavioral patterns are, what your thought patterns are, you’re able to understand if you are doing things in the correct manner or not. Because, you have the responsibility for changing things in your life.
And the Therapist or Counselor is there to help you and guide you through. I always say this to my clients that, when you come for therapy, ‘I’m here to help you help yourself.’ And that is really the essence of what therapy is about.
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-By Dr. Varudhini Kankipati