There’s so much more to psychologists’ work than therapy

Practitioner Psychologists

A practitioner psychologist has completed an undergraduate degree, followed by a Masters degree and/or doctoral training of an additional three years. Often many additional years of relevant work experience are carried out in between degrees. Psychologists are qualified to work with people across the lifespan, and many undertake additional training and choose to specialise in particular areas, as you will see by the different services listed on Find My Psychologist.

Working as both scientific and reflective practitioners, clinical psychologists are able to take a scientific and informed approach to their work. Due to this high level of training, assessments, therapy and interventions, and evaluations can be tailored to a client’s specific needs. This needs-based approach is one reason why psychologists tend to cost more than counsellors and therapists.

Practitioner Psychologists must adhere to strict professional guidelines in order to maintain their registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC). They must also engage in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) to ensure that their skills, knowledge and experience are kept up to date with evidenced-based practice. The HCPC protect the title of each of the practitioner psychologists (clinical, counselling, educational, forensic, health, occupational, sport & exercise). Not all titles related to therapy and counselling are regulated or protected (and even the standalone title of ‘psychologist’ is not protected).

It’s really important to check out relevant qualifications and which regulatory body maintains a professional’s registration, to ensure the highest standard of practice.

Psychiatrists

A psychiatrist is a medically qualified doctor who has a specialism in the field of psychiatry. Psychiatrists are regulated by the General Medical Council (GMC) and are trained and qualified to rule out the physical causes and diagnose mental health difficulties. They are also trained and qualified to prescribe medications. Some psychiatrists have also specialised in psychotherapy, but an additional qualification is required for them to practice this aspect of their work. Whilst they can deliver talking therapy, many tend to charge more than psychologists for this work.

Counsellors and Therapists

As a collective, counsellors and therapists have variable lengths of training; some do not have a prerequisite of a first degree and they are not trained to doctoral level. The many titles under this heading including counsellor, therapist, psychotherapist and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) Therapist, all of which are unregulated and unprotected titles, meaning that it is difficult to know the level of training someone has undertaken, their qualifications, and whether they engage in continuing professional development.

Counsellors and therapists are often trained in one therapy model as opposed to the set of multiple approaches that are applied to individuals by psychologists. The practice of some counsellors and therapists is regulated by professional bodies, for example, CBT Therapists can choose to engage in an accreditation process with the BABCP (British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies), and these are worth exploring before you engage in therapeutic work. Hence, for the reasons above, counsellors and therapists can be much less expensive. It is always a good idea to ask about qualifications and accreditation, along with ensuring the counsellor or therapist has the specialism to work with you.

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