Psychologists: An Overview
Psychologist in the
Health Care System:
Psychologists are on the forefront of research studies on depression, stress
reduction, pain control,
substance abuse treatment, anxiety, and phobias. Their work has led to
monumental advances in diagnosing and treating psychological problems and
Americans' achieving good psychological and physical health.
Health means different things to different people. Generally speaking, however,
people enjoy life and feel good about themselves, are comfortable with other
people, have satisfying
relationships, meet most of life's challenges, and enjoy their jobs or school.
However, coping with the
stress of modern life can sometimes be too much to handle. This is one of the
instances where psychological services can help.
One of the most important services psychologists provide is therapy, which
objectively looks at behaviors,
feelings, and thoughts in different situations and helps develop solutions to
deal with those situations.
Therapy is a collaborative effort, where the psychologist and his or her client
identify goals-- what they
want to happen--and agree on how they will know when progress is being made.
Psychologists are active in nearly every sector of our society, from health to
law, and sports to art.
One of the areas where psychologists are increasingly visible is in the
workplace. They extend their expertise in human behavior to corporate, business,
and organizational settings, and provide assistance to individuals and groups on
the psychological aspects of their work.
Clearly, psychology is working. Nine out often Americans surveyed by Consumer
Reports said that therapy helped them. In another major national study half the
patients studied were making improvement after eight sessions of therapy,
three-quarters after six months of therapy. Through a scientific base of
knowledge, psychologists have contributed to understanding human behavior and
alleviating pain and suffering.
California psychologists spend an average of 7.2 years on their doctoral degrees
in addition to their
undergraduate education. A year of supervised post-doctoral psychological
training is required before
taking a national written proficiency test and a state-administered oral exam to
acquire a license to
practice as a psychologist in the state. Psychologists help millions of
Americans of all ages find
solutions to the challenges of everyday life.
HIGH QUALITY, AFFORDABLE MENTAL HEALTH CARE
The Training and Credentialing of Psychologists
No other mental health profession requires as high a degree of education and
training in mental health as psychology. Accredited doctoral programs in
clinical psychology, including practicums and internships at clinics and
hospitals, includes an average of 6.82 years of training beyond an undergraduate
Licensure is required for independent practice for more than 60,000
psychologists in all 50 states. Licensure requirements for psychologists are
generally uniform across states, authorizing the psychologist to independently
diagnose and treat mental and nervous disorders upon completion of both doctoral
degree in psychology and minimum of two years of supervised experience in direct
clinical service. To further ensure quality of care, an ethical code has been
adopted as a part of all state licensing laws.
Psychologists Provide Valuable and Effective Therapy and Testing Services
Practicing psychologists are uniquely trained to provide psychotherapy and
testing services, services which have been proven to be effective in the
diagnosis and treatment of the full range of mental disorders. Psychotherapy
offers individuals a treatment approach which in many cases is equally, if not
more, effective than drug therapies. Such behavioral interventions are effective
in treating a range of mental and physical disorders. Cognitive and
interpersonal psychotherapies are well-suited and effective treatments for
depression. Psychotherapy treatments are know to be effective in reducing
factors contributing to illness and in enhancing coping strategies and healthy
behaviors. Psychotherapy can help people control high blood pressure and manage
chronic pain or headaches. These treatments can help people change habits to
reduce their risks for cardiovascular disease, cancer and HIV. Breast cancer
patients who participate in group psychotherapy are known to survive longer than
those who do not Diabetic adolescents can be helped to maintain the discipline
of diet and insulin treatments through psychotherapy. Alternatives to drug
therapies are particularly valuable to elderly populations, who are often
suffering from overdrugging and the numerous side effects of various drugs and
drug interactions. This is a problem of such magnitude that the Inspector
General of the Department of Health and Human Services called it "our nation's
other drug problem."
Diagnostic tests performed by psychologists and neruopsychologists are
usually designed and developed by psychologists. Increasingly, physicians and
other health care professionals turn to psychologists for their diagnostic
capabilities. These diagnostic services can establish the presence of brain
damage, brain disease or developmental abnormality. They can identify the
specific area or areas of cerebral dysfunction and assess the prognosis for
improvement or deterioration in functioning. Psychologists and
neruopsychologists then apply these results toward the development of
rehabilitative services for patients, working to assist the patient in becoming
as functionally independent as possible and providing treatment recommendations
to facilitate the greatest recovery of neuropsychological functioning.
Since the mid-1980s, psychologists have provided more outpatient psychotherapy
and psychological diagnostic evaluations than any other doctorally-trained
mental health professional. Psychology has been in the forefront of the leading
psychological and biological research on the mind/body interface, including the
diagnosis and treatment of stress disorders, neurological impairments, brain
disease and psychosomatic illness.
Psychologists are Found in all Settings, but Emphasize Treatment in the Least
Psychologists' focus on the least restrictive setting of treatment, believing
that this is the best clinical response to many psychological disorders.
Additionally, outpatient treatment, while equally or more effective than
inpatient treatment for most individuals, is much more cost-effective.
In addition to outpatient psychotherapy and testing, psychologists are playing
an increasing role in other settings, such as hospitals, skilled nursing
facilities and partial hospital settings.
Psychologists contribute to patient care in a variety of ways, such as: pain
management; treatment for sleep and eating disorders; emergency room care/crisis
intervention; biofeedback; behavior therapies, including applying behavioral
techniques in helping chemotherapy patients better deal with the emotional
effects of chemotherapy treatments; and assisting with pre-and post-surgical
preparations, including interventions to inform and support patients who have
had a heart attack or are facing surgery.
Psychologists are currently recognized as independent providers in federal
programs including Medicare, the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the
Uniformed Services (CHAMPUS), the Veterans Administration, the Federal Employees
Health Benefit Plan (FEHBP), HMOs and Medicaid plans.
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