What is a psychologist and how is that different from psychiatrists and other therapists?
A psychologist is a term applied only to mental health professionals who meet the following qualifications:
(1) they hold a doctorate degree in the field of psychology,
(2) have several hundred hours (or more) of supervised experience providing services, and
(3) pass both national and state licensing exams. Each state has different particular requirements, but, generally speaking the process is rigorous. Psychologists typically receive significant training in providing therapy, conducting psychological research, and psychological testing.
A psychiatrist, on the other hand, is a medical doctor (or M.D.) and the bulk of the training they receive is focused on physiology. Some, but not all, psychiatrists receive training in providing therapy; most psychiatrists focus on the prescription and monitoring of medication for psychological disorders.
Other types of therapists may or may not have specific education in psychology or therapy and may or may not have a license to practice these services. While technically one can call themselves a therapist without any formal training or a license, most people who practice psychotherapy do have a master’s degree in psychology and there are many different kinds of licenses a person might get. Only psychologists, however, are qualified to conduct and interpret psychological testing evaluations and only psychologists are required to have a doctorate degree (in most cases) in order to be licensed.
How long is a session?
Most therapy sessions are typically scheduled as a “therapy hour” which is usually between 45-50 minutes in length.
How much does it cost?
I am not presently taking on clients in private practice. However, depending upon the location and qualifications of the therapist, for people who do not use any insurance to pay for the therapy, psychologists typically charge between $100-$250 per session. Many psychologists also have a “sliding scale” wherein they determine a standard fee - for example, $175 per session - but for persons who cannot afford this fee, they may take a lower fee - for example $100 per session. Many psychologists also reserve spaces in their schedule to take on clients who cannot afford to pay and thus provide services on a ‘pro bono’ - or free - basis. Additionally, many psychologists choose to charge more for couples or family sessions, and the fee is typically lower for participating in a therapy group. Fees for other services - such as consultation or psychological testing - vary considerably and often depend on the time needed to complete these services.