Who Practices Therapy?: Part 1 of 2

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nyone who attempts to help resolve the psychological problems of an other individual can be said to be doing therapy. Psychoanalytic therapy, which was originally guided by Freudian theory, was first practiced early in the 20th century by Freud and his followers.

Today practitioners of psychotherapy fall into four groups, largely on the basis of the type of training they have undergone: clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric social workers, and counselors. The type of training is also likely to have a strong influence on the model used by a particular therapist.

Clinical psychologist do four to five years of graduate work in a clinical psychology program and obtain a Ph.D. Their training includes laboratory work, research design, and specialized training in abnormal behavior and therapy techniques, usually followed by an internship in which candidates work with clients under professional supervision.

Psychiatrists must attend medical school and earn an M.D. degree, after which they undertake a residency program in psychiatry. Psychiatrists are the only psychotherapists who are permitted to prescribe psychoactive drugs and electroshock treatment. Because psychiatrists are medical doctors, they are often thought of as being more extensively trained in psychotherapy than other kinds of therapists. This is not necessarily true, because the initial four year period of medical training involves little psychiatry.

Psychiatric social workers study for two years to earn a master’s degree in social work, which includes a year’s internship in social work. The number of social workers involved in psychotherapy is growing rapidly in this country. This growth reflects our society’s increasing use of psychotherapy services. as well as the heightened degree of training and professionalism now available in the field of social work.

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