Frequently Asked Questions
What is Psychology?
Psychology is the scientific study of mind and behaviour, which increasingly includes neuroscience and brain research. I practice Clinical Psychology, but there are many other branches of Psychology, for example, Social, Personality, Developmental or Industrial-Organizational Psychology.
What does a clinical psychologist do?
A clinical psychologist applies the science of Psychology and knowledge from related fields, to mental health and human well-being. Some areas include relationships, mental health conditions such as anxiety disorders, depression, trauma, addictive problems, behavioural patterns or psychological adjustment related to medical and physical health, recovery and rehabilitation from injury or medical illness.
How is a clinical psychologist qualified?
In Ontario a clinical psychologist:
- is a regulated health professional meeting rigorous training and legal standards
- is trained and qualified in psychological assessment, diagnosis and treatment.
- is regulated by the College of Psychologists of Ontario under the auspices of the Government of Ontario
- typically has a doctoral degree in Psychology (e.g. PhD, EdD, PsyD), requiring completion of:
- extensive coursework, clinical and research training
- a doctoral dissertation based on original research
- a full-time year-long internship or residency, usually in a hospital
- has practiced for a full year under supervision after the doctoral degree
- has passed examinations set by the College of Psychologists of Ontario
Why would a psychologist be helpful for medical or physical problems?
We often assume that our minds and bodies are separate from each other. In fact they are intimately connected. Increasingly, research shows that psychological factors are important in many medical conditions. For example, psychological reactions can result from heart attack, and then greatly burden recovery. Psychological factors such as stress, depression and anxiety can also increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes in the first place, contribute to high blood pressure, and complicate management of diabetes. A psychologist can help you adjust to the medical condition itself, and to reduce psychological risk factors.
How do you decide whether a particular psychologist is right for you?
You should look for a solid combination of training, experience and qualifications in a psychologist. Because the relationship between patient and psychologist is so important, this information should be considered along with your own feelings: Could you work comfortably with this person? Do you feel that your concerns are respected? Do you feel that you can develop a trusting relationship with this person?
How long and often are sessions, and how many are needed?
Sessions generally last 50 minutes, although in some assessment situations the duration may be longer. Usually sessions are held every week or two, although this is flexible. It is difficult to make a general statement about the number of sessions required, since this depends on individual considerations such as personality or complexity of the issues involved. For example, counselling to develop basic skills for management of common daily stress might be accomplished in five or six sessions. More complex problems such as psychotherapy for chronic depression complicated by a medical or other problem will probably take longer.