There are several different types of therapists offering psychological help. Some are more suited to certain people and particular types of difficulties than others.
Clinical psychologists have an undergraduate degree in psychology, or combined honours or conversion diploma (all must be accredited by the British Psychological Society), followed by a three year postgraduate Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (DClinPsy).
Doctoral training comprises several placements in different NHS specialities, ensuring a wide breadth of experience as well as more specialist training closer to qualification. Training also consists of doctoral level academic work including case studies and research. Clinical psychologists are trained to use evidence-based psychological methods of assessment and treatment. They often use approaches cited in the guidelines of the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) as recommended treatments.
Clinical psychologists do not prescribe medication but often work with people who are being prescribed medication (such as antidepressants) by their GP or psychiatrist.
Approaches I use
My approach to therapy is influenced by a variety of models. I am trained in cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy and person-centred counselling, and use these individually or in combination, depending on the needs of the individual.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a structured therapy based on the idea that people’s thoughts and beliefs, no matter how they have been formed, will affect their emotions and actions, and vice versa. CBT is about understanding this interaction and attempting to modify thoughts, behaviours and feelings to improve well-being. The emphasis is on how you are thinking and behaving now, rather than on your past experiences. Psychological and practical skills are developed and then practiced between sessions. The therapy tends to be time-limited, with goals being continually monitored and evaluated.
Psychodynamic therapy and person-centred counselling are less structured forms of therapy; the client being encouraged to explore their experiences and feelings freely. Psychodynamic therapy aims to increase a person’s self awareness and understanding of how the past has influenced them and places particular emphasis on unconscious thought processes which manifest themselves in behaviour patterns and relationship difficulties. Person-centred counselling places more emphasis on present difficulties and may be concerned with addressing and resolving specific problems, making decisions, coping with crises, working through conflict, or improving relationships with others.
Why seek private treatment?
The services of clinical psychologists are offered by many NHS Trusts but there is a recognised shortage. If you are seeking assessment and/or treatment I would advise you to contact your GP in the first instance. He/she should be able to let you know what services are available locally, and how long any waiting lists may be. Following such enquiries, and sometimes following initial treatment, some people decide to see a clinical psychologist privately, who may be able to see them sooner, offer different treatments and/or offer more sessions than might be available within the NHS.