Feb 04 2007

Social Worker, Psychologist or Psychiatrist…who makes the best therapist?

Published by at 3:11 pm under Counseling & Psychotherapy

According to the Consumer Report Study of the benefits of psychotherapy, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists all were viewed as equally effective as therapists.

I am often asked this question during an initial phone conversation with prospective clients and try to clarify what I see as some of the differences.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors, so often evaluate patients for medication. If medication is prescribed, the psychiatrist will see the patient every few months to monitor the effectiveness of the medications. Psychiatrists also provide psychotherapy and manage medications at the same time. So, whether providing psychotherapy or managing medications, the research indicates that psychiatrists are very helpful.

From my experience, clients often are referred by their primary care doctors who have prescribed medication and want their patients to be in therapy at the same time.

Psychologists provide individual, group, and couples psychotherapy and other counseling services. In addition, psychologists often receive specialized training in the administration of psychological tests. These tests include the Minnesota Multi-phasic Personality inventory (MMPI), Intelligence Testing, and tests related to learning, memory, career, and personality.

While social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists all will offer excellent care, it is always a good idea to interview potential therapists before making a final choice.

It is also important to note that Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors (LCPC) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) also provide excellent care as therapists.

I don’t believe these types of Licensure were available at time of the Consumer Report study. I am sure they would have also been viewed positively by the consumers who worked with them.

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