Talk Therapy or Medication?
There is a difference between Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Social Workers, and Counselors.
Doctoral level Psychologists typically have 6 years of graduate study and an additional 2 years of post-doctoral training in order to become licensed. Psychologists are expected to conduct original research while in graduate school and, typically, be intensively trained in all major therapeutic methodologies, testing tools, and current research. Note that the word 'Psychologist' is a protected term, and signifies a Doctoral level, licensed clinician. This is misused and misrepresented often, so be sure and ask!
Psychiatrists attend medical school, then complete a residency in Psychiatry.
Traditionally, there is one fundamental difference between the two: Psychiatrists are trained to view and treat emotional issues from a 'medical model', i.e. treating the body. The assumption is frequently that symptoms are organically caused. Psychologists tend to look at the person holistically, or as a whole, and emphasize the mind-body connection. Symptoms are viewed as emotional responses to life circumstances and environmental stressors.
Treatment, then, differs thusly: Psychiatrists primarily treat through the use of medications; psychologists via 'talk therapy'.Each discipline has a working knowledge of the other's expertise, and each may go on to receive additional training in the other arena of treatment. Psychologists and Psychiatrists often work together to provide a better-rounded and more effective treatment plan, in cases where medications are appropriate.
However – because depression and anxiety are rooted in the feeling that something (or everything) in life is out of control (finances, relationships, emotions, an addiction, and so forth), when possible we encourage finding long-term solutions to these problems, rather than relying on medicine to fix them. Why? Because we want you to realize that, like Dorothy and the Ruby Red Slippers, you had the power all along – you can take control back in your life – and all you will need to rely on, in most cases, is…. You!
A person with an advanced degree in social work has either a Master's (MSW, ACSW, or LCSW) or Doctoral degree (Ph.D. or DSW). In this discipline, there is a focus on support systems, how people develop in their family, cultural, and societal context. Social workers with Master's degrees have at least the equivalent of 2 full years of graduate study as well as up to two years of additional training for licensure.
LPC: Licensed Professional Counselors have a Master's level degree from an accredited university, and then go on to receive 2-3 years of additional training in order to become fully licensed.
Nurse Practitioner: Following a 4-year Bachelor's degree to become an RN, a nurse practitioner attends an NP program for 2 – 4 years, which involves several practicums and training rotations in order to achieve a specialization in the chosen field.