Jul 31

Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Counselor, Trainer or Psychotherapist?
The maze of mental health-related job titles.

Most of the people looking for advice, having personal problems or problems in their relationrships inevitably have to ask themselves: who is the right person to adress my issues? 100 years ago it was usually a priest or a medical doctor. Today, however, thanks to the great progress in specialization and research, it makes sense to contact the most competent partner.

Psychiatrists and neurologists: they are trained medical doctors specializing in the diagnosis and predominantly pharmacological (drug) treatment of severe mental disorders such as personality disorders and psychosis (such as schizophrenia etc.) and neurological disorders (disorders of the nervous system).
Psychologists: are the experts on mental processes and structures. It’s clinical psychologists who usually specialize in diagnosis, counseling and training. Offering psychotherapy, however, requires additional qualifications in most countries.

Coaches, counselors, advisers: these titles are not protected, so a proliferation of vendors, mostly without any skills, or professionally based training exists. “Before use”, therefore, an opinion about the seriousness of the provider should be formed.
Psychotherapists: for their profession, the therapeutic treatment of mental disorders and psychological burden, they have to undergo several years of intense training. Psychotherapeutic applications include couples therapy and sex therapy. Psychotherapies usually involve sessions of about 50 minutes every 1-2 weeks.

For minor issues only recently beginning, counseling is usually sufficient. If these issues have lasted longer or occur again and again, it is recommended to visit a qualified psychotherapist and to follow through with the therapy for several months to achieve long-term improvement. With severe mental illness, consult a psychiatrist in order to get a correct diagnosis and medication support as complementary treatment – it is worldwide standard today to get supportive and stimulating psychotherapeutic treatment for psychiatric disorders as well. This approach however seems to only slowly gain footing in Thailand.

(This short article is part of a weekly series dealing with psychological expat problems and general mental health issues and was published in various newspapers and magazines in Thailand, 2010)

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Thoughts on “The maze of mental health-related job titles”:

  1. Comment by WEBBWELLS:

    Great review, thanks for giving advice in your article.

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