Providing Expert Compassionate Care in a Relaxed and Comfortable Setting
Psychological Referrals: A description of some of the more popular therapies, plus
tips on how to choose a therapist.
Because making the right referral can make a major difference in treatment outcome,
it is important to consider the different types of psychotherapy that are available.
Will your patient benefit most from, and be best suited for cognitive therapy, behavioral
therapy, psychoanalytically oriented psychotherapy, mind- body therapy, hypnotherapy,
or medication? Perhaps a combination of medication and psychotherapy will work best.
Is it a chronic condition or an acute condition? Will things get better if just left
alone? Is the patient willing to make a commitment to therapy?
Understanding what these choices involve should help you to make the right referral.
Humanistic therapies run the gamut from non- directive to strongly confrontational.
The underlying idea being that we all have the inner resources for growth and self-healing.
The goal here is to assist the person on the road to becoming their own best self.
Interpersonal therapy combines analytic and sociological perspectives in tackling
psychological problems focusing on problem relationships by analyzing relevant memories
and pertinent present relationships. In this way the therapist helps the client perceive
others free of the distortions of the past.
Cognitive therapy is based on the theory that how we think about ourselves and the
world, strongly influences how we feel and behave, and , most importantly, that we
can purposely change our thinking. Cognitive therapists are skilled at pointing out
to patients their established patterns of thinking and teaching them to rethink and
re label. E.g. "People who think of themselves as poor lovers will act and feel like
Behavioral therapy is generally derived from the work of Pavlov and Skinner. The
overriding principle here being behavior and feelings can be shaped by reward and
punishment. Neurotic behavior would be viewed as a bad habit. If a negative feeling
is associatively connected with a particular situation, treatment becomes a matter
of conditioning, a form of retraining, to associatively connect a positive feeling
with that situation.
Hypnosis can and is utilized by practitioners of the various different techniques
in accordance with the demands of the particular technique they are using. The key
here is not that a particular therapist uses the hypnosis in their practice, but
rather that the therapist is well trained and has the skill to employ the particular
technique being used, while the client is in trance and after the hypnosis.
Mind/body psychoneuroimmunology. There is a clear recognition of the influence the
mind can have on the body. Chronic stress and lack of balance are seen as contributing
to illness, with relaxation and functional methods of coping with stress leading
to restoration of balance and health. Self responsibility is strongly encouraged
and the client is seen as an active participant in all stages of treatment. Among
the therapeutic modalities that the practitioner may offer are both guided and free
visual imagery, biofeedback, hypnotherapy, various relaxation and empowerment techniques.
Psychodynamically oriented psychotherapy takes into consideration unconscious motives,
attributing present behavior to genetic makeup and past experiences. Once you understand
the experiences a person has had in their life, you've gone a long way towards understanding
why they feel the way they do. Contrary to popular belief, psycho dynamically oriented
psychotherapy can be short-term, and some practitioners will not only provide immediate
feedback, but also consider the therapeutic process to be a democratic equalitarian
Preferences as to whether a patient would prefer a male or female therapist.
Although some people relate to, or initially find it easier to discuss sensitive
issues with either a male or female therapist, when all is said and done, what is
important is not what the gender of the therapist was, but whether or not the person
has been helped.
What is the difference between a Clinical or Counseling Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?
Both are doctors. The psychologist has a doctoral degree, Ph. D., Psy.D., or Ed.D.,
from a University or professional school with a specialization in Clinical or Counseling
Psychology. Graduate work typically takes five or more years, and includes training
in psychopathology and psychotherapy, personality theory, and psychological evaluation.
As part of meeting the requirements for independent practice, psychologists complete
a clinical internship and receive post-doctoral training under the supervision of
a senior more experienced psychologist. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who choose
to specialize in, and go on to complete additional training in mental health. Psychiatrists
may or may not prescribe psychotropic drugs as a part of their therapeutic approach.
If I were choosing a psychologist I would try to find one who is a Diplomate in Clinical
or Counseling Psychology of the American Board of Professional Psychology, but would
not let that be the sole criteria. Another consideration, not only in choosing a
psychologist, but any mental health professional would be to find one who enjoys
a good professional reputation in the community. I would choose a psychologist who
is well trained in several techniques, has a good sense of humor, is supportive,
returns telephone calls, and helps clients set realistic goals that are achievable
within a reasonable period of time.
Whenever possible , the patient should take the responsibility for making an informed
and educated choice. I feel that it is important that they meet with, and interview
the potential therapist not being shy about inquiring about that therapists credentials,
and discussing therapeutic goals. Then, after the meeting, asking themselves if they
feel comfortable enough with this person to discuss their innermost thoughts and
Aaron Karnilow, Ph.D. is a Diplomate in Clinical Psychology of the American Board
of Professional Psychology, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Clinical Psychology.
Dr. Karnilow is a former Director of the Department of Rehabilitation Psychology
at one of the largest hospitals in the US. He specializes in individual and marital
counseling , and has been in practice for over 25 years. Dr. Karnilow’s office is
located in the Windward Professional Pavilion at 4895 Windward Parkway, Suite 203,
Alpharetta, GA 30004, and he can be reached at (678) 566-5000.
The information contained in the Professionals Corner is for health care professionals,
and is to be used for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended
to be a substitute for the advice of a qualified licensed health care professional
who should be consulted prior to beginning any healthcare program.