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Seeing a Psychologist

Psychologists are mental health specialists who help individuals resolve personal and emotional matters. Usually, psychologists earn a doctoral degree (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) in psychology and have undergone clinical training. They offer counseling focused on normal developmental issues, everyday stress, phobias, depression, and issues resulting from abuse.

Unlike psychiatrists, most psychologists are not medical doctors and are unable to prescribe drugs. However, they have years of training and experience in understanding human behavior, emotions, and mental processes. Psychologists can work for a university, a clinic, a business, or they can be in individual practice.

All Psychologists Are Not Alike

There are three main branches in psychology: cognitive, behavioral, and dynamic. The right one for you depends on your symptoms, as well as on your comfort level with treatment techniques.

Cognitive psychology studies the mental processes underlying ehavior and examines areas such as perception, learning, problem solving, memory, attention, language, and emotions. In other words, cognitive therapists are interested in how people understand, diagnose, and solve problems; in treatment, they tend to look at dysfunction and difficulties arising from irrational or faulty thinking.

Behavioral psychology, or behaviorism, looks at how behavior results from interactions with the environment and from stimuli. Behavioral therapists look at problems as the result their clients have been conditioned over the years, rather than result of an internal mental state.

Dynamic psychology looks at issues that begin in early but continue to motivate the person in adulthood unconscious level. Sigmund Freud’s work on dream interpretation, in which dreams are manifestations of unconscious thoughts, classic example of this branch of psychology.

Research has shown that cognitive therapy seems to work with depression, while behavioral therapy is useful for breaking unwanted habits, such as smoking, overcoming phobias (desensitization), and stopping negative thought patterns. that, however, no other differences regarding effectiveness have found among the different therapeutic approaches. In fact, psychologists now combine therapeutic approaches to treat patients. Ultimately, if you want to try therapy to work on problems that appear or appear worse during PMS, the choice of psychologist is up to you.

Psychology is a very broad field, and it includes approaches to the study of mental processes and behavior. Here some specializations:

  • Clinical psychology is used to treat mental distress; psychologists assess mental health problems, and and use scientific research to understand mental health.

  • Development psychology is the scientific study of progressive psychological changes that occur in people as they change.

  • Health psychology uses psychological principles to promote health and prevent illness.

  • Medical psychology treats the body and the mind as interconnected. Medical psychologists are trained in the biological aspects of mental illness as it relates to physical illness.

  • Popular psychology includes concepts and theories that explain human behavior and mental processes that are not drawn from the technical field of psychology. Popular psychology offers insights into human behavior, but its findings are not supported by systematic analysis.

Finding a Psychologist

There are several resources to help you find a psychologist. The American Psychological Association has an online referral service (www.apa.org), as does the National Register of Health Service Providersin Psychology, a nonprofit organization that credentials psychologists (www.findapsychologist.org). In addition, your health plan may provide a list of mental care providers, and hospitals in your community can provide referrals or may even have premenstrual clinics with therapists on staff.

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