Over the course of the month, I will be talking about various mental health concerns.  Before doing so, I thought it would be helpful to define psychology and what a psychologist does.

Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behavior.  To use the title of Psychologist, a person must have a doctoral degree and pass all the competencies named below.

While in graduate school, the candidate takes classes on:

  • Clinical issues
  • Creating, conducting, analyzing, and writing about research topics.
  • Learning how to conduct, analyze and write reports using intellectual, psychological, and personality tests.
  • In addition to passing classes, candidates must pass additional competency exams at various stages of education.
  • Using research to write and defend a dissertation.

In a Psy.D. program (Doctor of Psychology), which is the type of degree I have, there is a significant emphasis on clinical training involving:

  1. A year-long, part-time practicum conducting psychological testing.
  2. A year-long, part-time practicum as a therapist.
  3. A year-long full-time internship.

After completing all these steps, the candidate receives their doctoral degree. An internship totalling 2,000 hours follows.

The next step is to pass a national competency exam covering 11 areas of psychology.  Some states require an additional exam for their specific laws and ethical codes. 

Once becoming a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, we are required to demonstrate continuing education in multi-cultural issues, ethics, and clinical knowledge/skills. In Illinois, psychologist must obtain 24 hours over the course of two years to maintain their license.  Phew!  That’s a lot to read through, isn’t it?

Clinical psychology involves the application of what we learn through scientific study.  We focus on treatment of:

  • Neurodevelopmental disorders such as intellectual disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, ADHD
  • Psychotic disorders including schizophrenia and delusional disorders
  • Mood disorders such as bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety disorders
  • Sleep disorders
  • Food related disorders in childhood and older including pica and anorexia nervosa
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Gender dysphoria
  • Addictions or substance use concerns
  • Neurocognitive disorders due to Huntington’s or Parkinson, as well as dementia
  • Personality disorders
  • Pedophilia and other paraphilic disorders
  • Relationship problems including family conflict, abuse
  • Other concerns including educational problems, problems related to finance.

Psychologists treat the whole person.  We take into consideration your environment, cultural/ethnic background and how your concerns are impacting various areas of your life.

The issues I discuss this month might not always be directly or obviously related to the disorders I have identified above.  I will show you, though, how they are connected to the problems and the overall impact on your/our lives.

Dr. Irgang
Dr. Lisa Irgang is a Clinical Psychologist and the Owner of Relationship Solutions Center. She provides a variety of services to meet her clients needs. Dr. Lisa has worked with people throughout Chicagoland, helping with adjusting to significant life changes, ADHD, Alternative Sexualities, Anxiety Disorders, Bipolar Disorder, Dealing with Chronic Illness, Depression, Low self-esteem, Parenting special needs children, Relationship concerns, and Trauma. She's a graduate of Argosy University Chicago and a Fellow at CLII - Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois.

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