What is Psychology?
Psychologists are not medical doctors, but they are important workers in the mental health field. A psychologist studies the way people feel and think, as well as how thoughts and feelings change the way people act. When psychologists work with patients directly to help them feel better, they practice clinical psychology. Clinical psychologists diagnose mental health disorders and provide treatment in the form of therapy.
A clinical psychologist might work with individuals, families, groups, or organizations. They may see people who are struggling to work through difficult circumstances, trying to overcome bad habits or patterns in their lives, recovering from a brain injury, or suffering from mental illness such as depression.
Clinical psychologists are skilled assessors. Through talking to their patients they can: (1) identify which thoughts or feelings are causing the problems in their patient’s life, (2) help their patient acknowledge what emotional strengths they bring to face those problems, and (3) make plans for treatment.
Treatment varies widely depending on the patient’s problems and the psychologist’s areas of expertise. There hundreds of recognized modes of therapy; in addition, a patient may need to see a psychiatrist (medical doctor) for medication treatment. Whichever therapies a psychologist uses, the goal is to help patients see areas in their life where their thoughts or feelings are holding them back and causing distress. Through therapy, psychologists can encourage their patients to develop new ways to adapt so that they can lead happier lives.
What is Neuropsychology?
Neuropsychology is a subspecialty of psychology that is concerned with how well the brain is functioning. It looks at how the physical structure of the brain and nervous system influence our thoughts and behavior. Neuropsychologists consult with other physicians to treat many kinds of neurological, psychiatric, and other medical conditions, including:
Traumatic brain injury
Developmental disorders affecting the brain
Neurological effects of medical conditions or treatments
Patients may be referred to a neuropsychologist if they are experiencing any significant changes in:
Organization, reasoning, or logic
Typically a consultation with a neuropsychologist consists of an interview and some testing to evaluate brain function. The interview asks about symptoms that you may have been experiencing. The tests are done either with pencil and paper or on a computer, and they are simple memory or thinking skills games. They may take more than an hour to complete. How you answer the test portion gives the neuropsychologist a great deal of information about the functioning, strengths, and weaknesses of each area of your brain. This information can be used to make a diagnosis or help guide a treatment plan for the future.
What is Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT)?
Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, is a form of psychotherapy or treatment for mental illness. It comes in a variety of methods, but the basic concept behind all CBT is the same -- our thoughts cause our feelings, which cause our actions. If we wish to change problematic behaviors or emotions in our lives, we need to start by changing our thoughts. CBT examines ideas and looks for patterns that may be causing harmful actions. The therapist helps patients modify those thought patterns and, in doing so, helps them feel better and cope more effectively.
CBT is one of the most widely studied forms of psychotherapy, and it has been shown to be extremely effective for a variety of mental illnesses. Some of the issues that respond well to CBT include mood disorders, personality disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse, sleep disorders, and psychotic disorders. In some cases, CBT has been shown to be as effective or even more effective than medication. One of the interesting things that the scientific study of CBT has shown is that CBT actually changes the way the brain works, physically improving its function.
CBT differs from traditional psychotherapy is a few key ways. One of the most important distinctions is the emphasis on the power and responsibility of the patient in CBT. The patient will be encouraged to be the one asking the questions in CBT therapy, and most patients are assigned homework to complete outside of therapy sessions. There is a concept in CBT that we all have the power to change how we feel, even if we cannot control the situation, and this can be very empowering for patients. Because of this power shift, the therapist-client relationship is not as critical to success in CBT as it is in other modes of therapy. Patients should still get along well with their therapists, but they do not need a deep, dependant emotional connection to them. Finally, because CBT often treats a specific issue or problem, it is usually shorter in duration than traditional therapy. While some therapies may continue for years, CBT lasts on average just 16 sessions.
What is Child Psychology?
Child psychology, sometimes called pediatric psychology, is a subspecialty of psychology that focuses on the behavioral and emotional health of children and adolescents. Child psychologists provide evaluation and treatment to children via therapy. Some of the disorders they commonly treat include:
Oppositional or defiant behavior
Depression or Anxiety
Coping with physical illness, including terminal illness and pain
The goal of psychological therapy for children is usually to teach patients skills for coping with stressors and difficult situations in their lives. They may learn or strengthen problem-solving skills. Eventually, with the help of therapy, children’s sadness, stress, or anxiety are reduced and their ability to function well is increased.
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