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How to Choose a Specialist?

One of the most common reasons people hesitate to seek help for issues related to their mental health is a lack of awareness. Because a wide range of professionals work in this field, from doctors to researchers, the answer to the question, “Who should I turn to when I’m suffering mentally?” often remains unclear.

Psychiatrist

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor. They are the only medical professionals in our field authorized to prescribe medication. That’s why our ethical code recommends that all psychologists and psychotherapists collaborate with a psychiatrist, enabling clients to access medication if necessary.

Many of the psychological difficulties we go through are not necessarily psychiatric. For problems in interpersonal relationships, acute stress reactions, and various other issues, medication is often unnecessary. Many people who need psychological counseling are afraid to seek it because they believe their only option is to see a psychiatrist. There is also the persistent stereotype that only “crazy” people (a label generously given to those suffering from schizophrenia) go to psychiatrists.

Psychologist

A psychologist is anyone who has completed a bachelor’s program in psychology. Therefore, psychologists find a wide range of opportunities for their careers. Various university programs allow them to work in diverse fields, from social workers to school counselors and corporate consultants. Due to the absence of a law regulating the psychological profession in Bulgaria, many bachelor’s graduates start counseling clients in private practice without further qualifications. According to global standards, this is an illegal practice and leads to low-quality service provision.

To ensure you receive quality service, the minimum requirement for your chosen psychologist should be to hold a master’s degree and be a certified consultant in a legitimate modality. This gives them the right to provide clinical services to the general population in private practice.

Again, due to the lack of regulation in our country, many master’s graduates start private practice after completing partial weekend or modular courses. Among them, there are talented professionals, but if you don’t happen to find one, there is no institution to assist you.

Psychotherapist

A psychotherapist is anyone who has completed a master’s program in psychology (preferably clinical psychology) and specialized in a specific therapeutic approach such as psychoanalysis, behavioral, humanistic, cognitive, family, or another form of therapy.

Psychotherapist training in their chosen modality is typically five years and culminates in certification from the relevant association working in that modality. This allows them to counsel mentally ill clients in private practice.

The image of a psychotherapist is often distorted in the media. However, they remain the most easily recognizable. Because of the same media influence, there is often confusion about what a psychoanalyst is. In fact, a psychoanalyst is a type of psychotherapist who has specialized in the therapeutic approach of psychoanalysis (founded by Sigmund Freud). This is just a small part of psychology. Therefore, the term “psychoanalyst” cannot be used interchangeably with “psychologist” or “psychotherapist.”