Understanding a Myriad of Mental Health Professionals

Finding the right therapist can somehow be a daunting task especially if you don’t have much knowledge of what these titles are all about. There’s a psychiatrist, psychopharmacologist, psychologist, psychotherapist, psychoanalyst — that’s a lot of psychos! Many individuals are puzzled with the multitude of “p” words in the medical industry. As what Richard Nixon used to say “Let me make things perfectly clear”. (Actually, Richard Nixon was not the best person to rely on when it comes to issues about health.) Moving forward, here is a (remarkably incomplete) guide to the perplexed mind:


This is a general term for someone whose profession is to help people deal with their emotional issues. He or she can be a graduate of psychiatry, psychology, or social work, to name just a few degrees that will qualify a person to serve as a personal therapist, and marriage or family counselor.


A psychiatrist is a medical practitioner and is allowed to prescribe medicine, unlike psychotherapists. A lot of psychiatrists, who are also called psychopharmacologists, have the sole function of prescribing medicine and helping patients manage their treatment. If you seek psychotherapy, you still have to visit a psychotherapist or a traditional psychiatrist who provides psychotherapy.


This is a person who has earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree, major in psychology. Aside from conducting talk therapy, he/she is qualified to conduct psychological tests such as the Rorschach test. He/she can choose to specialize in research and work in universities. Those who prefer to treat patients must be a graduate of Doctor of Psychology rather than a graduate of Doctor of Philosophy.

Social Worker

People have this common notion that a social worker is someone who works in a government agency that provides social services such as hospitals. Few people know that a social worker can also work as psychotherapists. Their field of study covers courses that are also taken by psychologists but since they have a master’s degree, they can practice psychotherapy. However, their focus is more on the effects of the environment to persons. Although they are qualified to provide psychotherapy, their function does not include giving of psychological tests. Their titles and licenses may vary from state to state. They may have varied titles such as Licensed Social Worker, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, or Independent Licensed Clinical Worker.


A psychoanalyst is a graduate of psychotherapy who has undergone additional rigorous training in order to help patients discover the causes of their problems. This method of delving into the unconscious was first practiced by Sigmund Freud. This helps in understanding the reasons for a person’s actions and behavior and in identifying the mechanism that is being used to defend or justify his actions, and therefore, he does it again. Psychoanalysis may utilize dream analysis, free association, and transference to understand the way patients act and behave. This model has produced stereotype therapists called silent therapists who are known to consider people’s childhood as the only cause of their actions or behavior.

As of today, a number of psychoanalysts are drawn to the idea of additional contemporary models that develop over time. However, they greatly deviate from Sigmund Freud’s original thinking. Psychoanalysts (sometimes called “relational analysts) are more interested and active in analyzing the individuals’ current-day issues and how past experiences influence them. We determine the behavior of people when they interact with others in methods that only reinforce existing patterns and fears. Furthermore, we find ways to seeing oneself and create new experiences, within the therapeutic relationship. In contrast to the stereotype, psychoanalysts give opinions and advice, we essentially provide service much more than that.

Generally, psychoanalytic patients attend their therapy at least three times a week. They usually lay on the couch in every session. Nowadays, a number of individuals in the psychoanalytic (or psychodynamic) psychotherapy do attend sessions either once or twice a week only. Couch use is already an option and in some cases, relational analysts do not even recommend using it at all. It is important to note that psychoanalysis is different from other forms of psychotherapy (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy). Psychoanalysis is more comprehensive because the bottom of the problem is analyzed and evaluated rather than just alleviating the symptoms.

Contact Dr. Leslie Zebel in West Palm Beach if you’d like to discuss a counseling plan that is right for you.

Psychiatry or Psychology: What Are the Differences?

Pychiatrist or Psychologist?

In the work field psychiatrists and psychologists work in tandem quite often to benefit their client’s health, so their career defined lines are blurred. Even so, many notable differences between the two exist, treatment nature being the most obvious amongst the professions.

Discover differences between the two professions.

Differences in Treatment

Amongst psychiatrists a main course of treatment is prescription medication management. This is due to the fact that psychiatrists are medically trained doctors, and can prescribe medications.

The focus with psychologists is on psychotherapy where treatment centers around the patient’s mental and emotional state offering behavioral intervention. Essential in assessing the mental state of any patient psychological testing is an exclusive psychologist pursuit allowing them to determine effective treatment for their clients.

Differences in Education

Psychiatry and psychology also differ greatly as far as education is concerned. General medicine education is a part of a psychiatrist’s training at medical school. They practice four years of training in a psychiatry residency after earning an MD. Their experience Typically, their experience has to do with working in a hospital psychiatric unit where they attend to a wide array of patients, of all ages with everything from behavior disorders to severe mental illness cases.

Psychologists achieve a PhD or PsyD doctoral degree in a matter of four to six years. The psychologist’s academic progression involves studies in the history of psychological problems, development of personality, and psychological research science. Their graduate school allows for them preparation for a career in psychology through educating others studying psychology through diagnosing emotional and mental disorders in various situations.

Completion of a one to two year internship after graduate school is a requirement of psychology students. Psychology internships give graduates insight into:

  • behavioral therapy
  • analytical testing
  • methods of treatment
  • psychological theory
  • problem-solving techniques

In most areas, to be licensed after an internship, graduates additionally need practical work experience under the supervision of an authorized mental health professional for one or two years.

Differences in Practice

An individual might get a referral from their primary physician, to see a psychologist in order to address behavioral patterns. Then that psychologist might refer to a psychiatrist for prescribing and monitor medication. The psychiatrist and psychologist work simultaneously in treatment of their patient’s condition from both a clinical and a behavioral vantage point.

The fields of psychiatry and psychology are both necessary for developing and researching treatment for improving emotional and mental health. All differences aside, psychiatrists and psychologists have a common goal: helping people achieve better health.