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:
- A year-long, part-time practicum conducting psychological testing.
- A year-long, part-time practicum as a therapist.
- 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.