Psychology based services

I think we consider too much the good luck of the early bird and not enough the bad luck of the early worm.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

Counselling, psychotherapy, psychology and psychiatry - what's the difference between them? And where do somatic treatments fit in?

What follows is a quick description of each of these groups. 

Psychiatrists are medical doctors (general medicine) with training in working with mental illness. They work predominantly with medication and have access to community mental health resources. They are qualified to make diagnoses and prescribe medicine.

Psychologists have a lengthy academic training and know the latest research and statistics. Their professional bodies are the NZPsS and NZCCP. Psychologists tend to prefer short term common sense approaches like cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) which is often really useful, but 'barely touches the sides' when it comes to more ingrained problems. For this reason, a number of psychologists have gone on to train further in psychotherapy.

Psychotherapists see therapy with humans more as a craft than a science, so the focus in training is more practical. Training is most commonly at postgraduate level and the professional body is the NZAP. Psychotherapists see themselves as working with people at the underlying level of the core beliefs they hold about life and relationships. Changing these can transform the way we see and deal with the world. This is my preferred modality as it can be deeply satisfying work.

Body-oriented psychotherapy has a very different approach to the above three. At its core is the belief (backed by science) that what affects the mind affects the body, and that what affects the body affects the mind. This is crucial for conditions such as trauma where a lot of the primary dysfunction is physiological in nature, reflecting changes in the body systems as a direct result of the traumatic experience. This field is by no means new - having been used overseas in ways such as Critical Incident Debriefing - for decades. However in New Zealand, it is still a very emerging practise with most practitioners having acquired their skills through overseas bodies.

Kate Johns,
Apr 22, 2012, 8:34 PM