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    Includes Expert Content
    Therapist vs Psychologist
    An_188870 posted:
    I've been diagnosed with Bi-polar recently, can some one advice me which one should I go with? LSW?, Psychologist or Family Therapist?
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    Joseph F Goldberg, MD responded:
    Dear Anon,

    There actually is not such thing as a credential for "therapist." Anybody on the planet can call themself that. In terms of credentials, an LSW or social worker is someone who has completed a 2-3 year program that may or may not include training in psychotherapy and family therapy. A psychologist is a non-medical doctor who has completed typically 4-5 or more years of graduate training in psychology (typically, clinical psychology, but never assume) who usually has had training in the administration of psychological tests (eg, IQ tests, Rorschachs, etc.) and psychotherapy. Neither psychologists nor social workers are licensed to prescribe medicines (except a few states that by legal precedent have decided that psychologists can prescribe medicines without having to go to medical school). Psychiatrists are MD's who have had 4 years of medical school plus 4-5 or more additional years of specialty training in psychiatry, and typically, psychiatrists are qualified to prescribe medicines and do psychotherapy. Nowadays insurance companies discourage people from seeing psychiatrists for psychotherapy because social workers and psychologists are usually less expensive.

    If medicines are in the picture, or are being considered, a psychiatrist would be the right type of professional to see. If talk therapy is being considered, any of the other disciplines would be appropriate. Probably the most important thing, regardless of the credential, is someone who has knowledge and a background in the treatment of mood disorders, which would be an appropriate question to ask when calling to inquire about an initial appointment.

    - Dr. G.
    oilpastel replied to Joseph F Goldberg, MD's response:
    Thank you Dr. G. I really appreciate your kindness by responding to my question.
    I do have my Psychiatrist and we just start my medication Lithium Carbonate on 12/ 9/10... and I have a lab test on next week.
    I was hoping that the talking therapy or cognitive therapy, will help me to coupe with this illness... and be more productive. I used to have a family that was bipolar and I can't not accept that I will be so helpless like that.
    That is the reason why I was looking for a psychologist or therapist.
    Thank you
    Joseph F Goldberg, MD replied to oilpastel's response:
    Dear oilpastel,

    Either social workers or psychologists may be trained in cognitive therapy and/or have expertise in mood disorders. Have your list of questions when you call to make inquiries.-

    - Dr. G.
    sheila000 replied to Joseph F Goldberg, MD's response:
    Another great answer that should be a lasting tip, but might add this is for US only.
    sheila000 replied to oilpastel's response:
    Get stable on meds then ask psychiatrist for refferal to therapist.
    oilpastel replied to sheila000's response:
    Thanks, I will.
    shyalynn replied to oilpastel's response:
    good luck ! and please remember that if you are not happy with your therapist ... you can always change. dont do what i did. i hated mine and thought it was me and kept going and got worse. Find someone you trust and feel comfortable with !
    ThePhoenix888 responded:

    I'm glad to see your taking such a pro-active approach, so early in your diagnosis. God knows I didn't do that.

    In my own experience, I have found that I benefit more from a LSW, rather than a psychologist. LSW tend to be more right- brained. More tuned into emtions and emotional responses. I mean, we are talking about therapy, and someone in tune with their own and others emotions is more beneficial. As for psychologists, they are definitely more left-brained and analytical. When it comes to psychiatrists, forget about it. Just get your meds from them. (Sorry about that Dr. G.). It often helps to have your psychiatrist to be in the same practice and/or building with a LSW, so both have access to your chart, and can cross reference notes to each other.

    For that last paragraph, I must credit the source, don't want to steal others original ideas. Check out Kay Jamison's, "An Unquiet Mind"

    Hope this helps.

    Phoenix (who is a left-brained person, currently trying to get my right-sided brain to light up more on an MRI)
    ThePhoenix888 replied to sheila000's response:
    Hey Sheila:

    That same thought went through my mind too. Myself, I'm an American, but I lived in Europe for three years, so I try to take in a more world-wide perspective if I can. Just wondering, where are you from?

    Anneinside replied to Joseph F Goldberg, MD's response:
    Phoenix, and others, I see a psychologist and she is very caring. Psychologists are necessarily "left-brained" and what is important is their expertize and the relationship you build. I have had another psychologist who was excellent and a social worker who didn't seem to know what he was doing.

    One important thing in initially choosing a psychologist/social worker is whether they are covered by your insurance. Mine does not cover social workers.

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