Psychotherapist, Psychologist, Psychiatrist?
When it comes to choosing someone to work with for personal therapy, the choices can seem overwhelming.
A question I am often asked is about the differences in Psychotherapy, (what I practice) Psychology and Psychiatry. I wanted to write a quick blog explaining how each person may work and also highlight a few differences.
The most important thing to know when looking to find the right therapist for you is that choosing someone you feel comfortable with is key. We know from research that the biggest predictor of a person’s success and achievement of their outcomes in therapy is largely due to the connection or relationship you have with your therapist.
The very heart of psychotherapy is a caring, deeply human meeting between two people ~ Irving Yalom
Psychiatrists are medically trained doctors, which means they have the ability to prescribe medication. Some psychiatrists may do some counselling, their focus is mostly on patients with serious mental illnesses that require medical intervention like prescription medication or hospital admission. Seeing a psychiatrist can be quite expensive. It’s sort of like seeing any medical specialist.
The good news is that you may be able to claim a portion of the fee back on Medicare or through your private health insurance.
Psychiatrists tend to deal with serious mental issues and you will need a referral from your doctor. Although some Psychiatrists may offer therapy or counselling this is not their primary scope of work.
Psychologists, unlike psychiatrists, are not medically trained. But they are interested in how the brain works, how you think and how you behave. Unlike psychiatrists though, psychologists are not doctors and therefore, are unable to prescribe medication, admit patients into hospital or treat very serious mental illnesses.
Psychologists often work within a medical framework of diagnosis and treatment and will work with clients to address symptoms. Most psychologist training doesn’t involve or have a requirement for the person to do their own “work” through personal therapy. Psychologists are eligible for Medicare rebates
Psychologists, unlike psychiatrists, are not medically trained. But they are interested in how the brain works, how you think and how you behave. Unlike psychiatrists though, psychologists are not doctors and therefore, are unable to prescribe medication, admit patients into hospital or treat very serious mental illnesses. Psychologists often work within a medical framework of diagnosis and treatment and will work with clients to address symptoms.
Psychologists are eligible for Medicare rebates
It is important to note that some Psychologists and Psychiatrists are trained in Psychotherapy.
Psychotherapists are not medically trained and cannot prescribe medication. Their focus is on working relationally. as therapist and client as the latest research into neuroscience supports this approach. Psychotherapy takes both conscious and unconscious factors into account. It involves a holistic engagement that focuses on the mental, emotional, relational or spiritual health of a human being. A psychotherapist supports a person to discover possibilities for growth, change and healing.
Psychotherapists work a bit deeper and tend to look at what is underneath the symptoms and working with the root cause of your issues, rather than just resolving individual problems at a conscious level and psychotherapy looks to treats symptoms in the context of the whole person. A psychotherapist will have completed a substantial, experiential professional training, in at least one psychotherapeutic modality which draws on an established theoretical base.
Psychotherapists & counsellors may be eligible for private health fund rebates.
You may have already picked up my own personal bias when it comes to choosing someone who to work with.
I have personally had some wonderful and not so wonderful experiences with psychologists and psychotherapists alike. What I want to stress is that the most important thing is the connection and comfortability you have with your therapist and in my experience, it is this crucial element that impacts on successful outcomes as also has determined whether the quality of my experience was more wonderful than not.
When I was looking for a therapist to help support me through some of my own challenges, it was important that I work with someone who had been on the other side of the table so to speak. I wanted to know the person in front of me had done enough of their own personal work to be able to support and guide me effectively in their role. It was a non-negotiable for me that my therapist be able to lead by example and have the necessary insight and practical experience to be effective in their role.
I chose a psychotherapist I felt comfortable with and someone who I felt related to me as a person rather than a condition. For me, psychotherapy supported a process of change. I was able to come to understand old patterns and behaviours in my life that were unhelpful. In learning how to develop awareness and understanding I was also able to make more conscious choices and empowered decisions. As a result, I experience more joy, meaning, an openness of heart and connection today.
Psychotherapy is where I found myself.
I also want to take a moment and acknowledge the many modalities and practitioners who work with people in a deeply relational and embodied way.
This includes somatic practitioners, energy healers, equine therapists and many many more that could be listed.
If you are still looking to find the right fit for you, don’t give up, continue to ask for referrals, seek out and investigate practitioners online and see if you resonate with their values and approach.
There is no more worthwhile investment that choosing to make your emotional health and wellbeing a priority.
If you resonate with my approach and would like to find out more about how we might be able to work together you can find out more here.
Natajsa Wagner is a Masters qualified Psychotherapist based in Brisbane, Australia. Natajsa blends relational Gestlat methods, contemporary Psychotherapy and neuroscience practices in her work. Natajsa guides and mentors professionals in understanding themselves and their behaviour patterns so they can make more aligned choices in their life. Natajsa is thought leader and advocate for authentic human conversations and connection. She works experientially with individuals and groups to teach, that in a moment, we can create and experience more deeply satisfying connections with each other.
Her work offers an antidote to the modern day disease of disconnection.She invites others to create a ripple of connection in the world, so that we might all feel more intimacy, belonging and aliveness. Natajsa has been featured as an expert both locally and internationally and has contributed to a number of print and online media outlets including: Womens Health and Fitness Magazine, Cosmopolitan Magazine & ABC Online.