How can a psychologist help you?

Welcome to our blog! This is our first official post, so I would like to start with something very basic: What is a psychologist and how can psychotherapy with a psychologist help me? The Ordre of Psychologists of Quebec website has a nice definition here.

A psychologist is a healthcare professional who went to graduate school – they have a Bachelor degree and a Ph.D, for a total of seven to eleven years of university studies. Until recently in Quebec, acceptance into the Quebec Order of Psychologists (OPQ) was granted with a minimum of a Masters degree, but now all professionals applying for membership require a doctorate degree (Ph.D.).

Psychologists are trained in many different types of psychotherapies, but one psychotherapy that is proven over and over again to efficiently help people with depression, anxiety, stress, adjustment issues etc is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). More about CBT in a later blog…

Sometimes, people confuse the professions of psychologist, psychiatrist and psychotherapist.

A psychiatrist is a physician that holds a medical degree (MD) and has specialized in psychiatry, studying for a total of about seven years after a Bachelor degree. Some even go directly to medical school without a Bachelors degree (premed program). Psychiatrists have the right to prescribe medication, and have an expertise in prescribing medications that help controls symptoms of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, severe anxieties, etc. Sometimes, psychiatrists have taken courses in certain psychotherapeutic techniques, but in Quebec, they rarely conduct psychotherapy.

A psychotherapist is any mental healthcare professional (including psychologists, social workers, nurses, and some psychiatrists) who conducts psychotherapy (therapy of a psychological nature). Until recently, this term was not protected, so anyone could call themselves a “psychotherapist”. Now this term has become a legal one (as of June 18, 2009! See here for more info) and anyone using it must demonstrate adequate credentials and meet minimum training requirements. All this in order to protect the public from people who may be well intentioned in wanting to help you, but are not adequately trained in how to do so. They typically charge much less than a Ph.D. level psychologist, so people mistakenly believe they are getting the same kind of service, but for less. Not so!

Hope this clarifies…