Who Practices Therapy?: Part 2 of 2

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Counseling psychologists and counselors earn graduate degrees in psychology or counseling and then do internships in a counseling setting. Often their training and attention are concentrated in specific areas such as student marriage, or family counseling. Yet, in the process of doing specialized counseling, such professionals often find it necessary to deal with other emotional aspects of the client’s life as well. Thus many counseling professionals practice something that is much like psychotherapy.

It is not uncommon for these different groups of mental health practitioners to practice similar kinds of therapy or focus on similar problems. For example, marriage and couple counseling is a field of specialization practiced not only by counselors but also by psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and other professionals in the field in the course of performing other functions. As another example, psychiatric nurses not only carry out the medication orders of staff psychiatrists but also interact with patients in psychotherapeutic ways. And while the main function of school psychologists and social workers is the assessment of emotional and behavioral difficulties, they often engage in therapeutic interactions with students. As a result, there is an increasing trend to include therapeutic training techniques in the training of these individual professionals. Increasingly, there is a tendency for mental health professionals to function as a team to deal with clients’ problems. A psychiatrist prescribes psychoactive medications for a client and monitors their effectiveness; a psychologist sees the same client in individual or group psychotherapy; and a social worker monitors the home environment of the client.

Thus there are many different types of therapists operating in many different settings. There are also different approaches to therapy, which we shall look at next. The five basic approaches are the same ones we discussed in relation to abnormal behavior: the psychoanalytic, humanistic existential, biological, and learning and cognitive models. In addition, we will discuss a family of approaches that draw on theories of social interaction for their theoretical foundations.

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