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What is Psychology Q&A

What is a psychologist

What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

Psychologist and psychiatrists both provide treatment to individuals with psychological and behavioural issues. Psychology is both a profession and an independent scientific discipline. Psychiatry is a specialization within the field of medicine.  A psychologist will have a Doctorate degree  and a psychiatrist will have a Medical degree.  Psychologists and Psychological Associates are trained in assessment, and treatment of both behavioural and mental conditions. Psychologists help people control and change their behavior as a primary method of treating problems. Psychiatrists prescribe medication as a primary means of changing people’s behavior. Both psychologists and psychiatrists assume that complex emotional problems are likely to be the result of biopsychosocial causes.


How does a Psychologist go about determining a diagnosis?

The standard procedure is for the psychologist or psychological associate to conduct several interviews with the patient and this usually includes having the patient complete one or more psychological test(s) and other sources of collateral data.  A diagnosis is then made from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5th Edition. 

How long are the sessions and how many treatment sessions will I have to participate in?

The length of the sessions may vary but often are typically 50 to 60 minutes. How many assessment and treatment sessions you will need depends upon several variables including the nature and severity of the problem, the treatment goals selected, and the approach of the psychologist or psychological associate.

Will the information discussed with my psychologist be confidential?

Clients have the  right to confidentiality and privacy.  There are only a few circumstances in which psychologists might need to disclose your private information, and these circumstances will be reviewed with you before you initiate treatment so that you are aware of the limits of confidentiality.  For example, some exceptions to confidentiality include, but are not limited to,  when there is suspected abuse of a child, or if a client expressed a serious intention to harm oneself or another.   Another potential circumstance, in which your information must be shared is a court order.


What is the difference between psychologist and psychological associate?  (taken from CPO)

The difference is in how they are trained. Both have completed an undergraduate degree and have gone on to complete a graduate degree in psychology. Psychological Associates have completed a masters level degree in psychology (e.g. M.A., M.Sc., M.Ps., M.Ed.), which is then followed by four years of experience working in the scope of practice of psychology. Psychologists have completed a doctoral level degree in psychology (Ph.D., Psy.D., Ed.D., D.Psy.) which typically includes a one-year internship. Both Psychologists and Psychological Associates have then completed at least one additional year of formal supervised experience approved by the College and passed the three examinations required by the College. The profession of psychology in Ontario has a single scope of practice. There is no distinction made in the legislation or in the regulations between Psychologists and Psychological Associates with respect to scope of practice or with respect to controlled/authorized acts.