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American Academy of Clinical Psychology


  • Monday, September 23, 2019 7:00 PM | Anonymous

    At some time in our lives, each of us may feel overwhelmed and may need help dealing with our problems. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, more than 30 million Americans need help dealing with feelings and problems that seem beyond their control — problems with a marriage or relationship, a family situation or dealing with losing a job, the death of a loved one, depression, stress, burnout or substance abuse. Those losses and stresses of daily living can at times be significantly debilitating. Sometimes we need outside help from a trained, licensed professional in order to work through these problems. Through therapy, psychologists help millions of Americans of all ages live healthier, more productive lives.

    Consider therapy if...

    You feel an overwhelming and prolonged sense of helplessness and sadness, and your problems do not seem to get better despite your efforts and help from family and friends. You are finding it difficult to carry out everyday activities: for example, you are unable to concentrate on assignments at work, and your job performance is suffering as a result. You worry excessively, expect the worst or are constantly on edge.Your actions are harmful to yourself or to others: for instance, you are drinking too much alcohol, abusing drugs or becoming overly argumentative and aggressive.

    What is a psychologist and what is psychotherapy?

    Psychologists who specialize in psychotherapy and other forms of psychological treatment are highly trained professionals with expertise in the areas of human behavior, mental health assessment, diagnosis and treatment, and behavior change. Psychologists work with patients to change their feelings and attitudes and help them develop healthier, more effective patterns of behavior.

    Psychologists apply scientifically validated procedures to help people change their thoughts, emotions and behaviors. Psychotherapy is a collaborative effort between an individual and a psychologist. It provides a supportive environment to talk openly and confidentially about concerns and feelings. Psychologists consider maintaining your confidentiality extremely important and will answer your questions regarding those rare circumstances when confidential information must be shared.

    How do I find a psychologist?

    To find a psychologist, ask your physician or another health professional. Call your local or state psychological association. Consult a local university or college department of psychology. Ask family and friends. Contact your area community mental health center. Inquire at your church or synagogue. Or, use APA's Psychologist Locator service.

    What to consider when making the choice

    Psychologists and clients work together. The right match is important. Most psychologists agree that an important factor in determining whether or not to work with a particular psychologist, once that psychologist's credentials and competence are established, is your level of personal comfort with that psychologist. A good rapport with your psychologist is critical. Choose one with whom you feel comfortable and at ease.

    Questions to ask

    Are you a licensed psychologist? How many years have you been practicing psychology?I have been feeling (anxious, tense, depressed, etc.) and I'm having problems (with my job, my marriage, eating, sleeping, etc.). What experience do you have helping people with these types of problems?What are your areas of expertise — for example, working with children and families?What kinds of treatments do you use, and have they been proven effective for dealing with my kind of problem or issue?What are your fees? (Fees are usually based on a 45-minute to 50-minute session.) Do you have a sliding-scale fee policy?What types of insurance do you accept? Will you accept direct billing to or payment from my insurance company? Are you affiliated with any managed care organizations? Do you accept Medicare or Medicaid insurance?


    Many insurance companies provide coverage for mental health services. If you have private health insurance coverage (typically through an employer), check with your insurance company to see if mental health services are covered and, if so, how you may obtain these benefits. This also applies to persons enrolled in HMOs and other types of managed care plans. Find out how much the insurance company will reimburse for mental health services and what limitations on the use of benefits may apply.

    If you are not covered by a private health insurance plan or employee assistance program, you may decide to pay for psychological services out-of-pocket. Some psychologists operate on a sliding-scale fee policy, where the amount you pay depends on your income.

    Another potential source of mental health services involves government-sponsored health care programs — including Medicare for individuals age 65 or older, as well as health insurance plans for government employees, military personnel and their dependents. Community mental health centers throughout the country are another possible alternative for receiving mental health services. State Medicaid programs may also provide for mental health services from psychologists.

    Credentials to look for

    After graduation from college, psychologists spend an average of seven years in graduate education training and research before receiving a doctoral degree. As part of their professional training, they must complete a supervised clinical internship in a hospital or organized health setting and at least one year of post-doctoral supervised experience before they can practice independently in any health care arena. It's this combination of doctoral-level training and a clinical internship that distinguishes psychologists from many other mental health care providers.

    Psychologists must be licensed by the state or jurisdiction in which they practice. Licensure laws are intended to protect the public by limiting licensure to those persons qualified to practice psychology as defined by state law. In most states, renewal of this license depends upon the demonstration of continued competence and requires continuing education. In addition, APA members adhere to a strict code of professional ethics.

    Will seeing a psychologist help me?

    According to a research summary from the Stanford University School of Medicine, some forms of psychotherapy can effectively decrease patients' depression, anxiety and related symptoms such as pain, fatigue and nausea. Research increasingly supports the idea that emotional and physical health are closely linked and that seeing a psychologist can improve a person's overall health.

    There is convincing evidence that most people who have at least several sessions with a psychologist are far better off than individuals with emotional difficulties who are untreated. One major study showed that 50 percent of patients noticeably improved after eight sessions, while 75 percent of individuals in therapy improved by the end of six months.

    How will I know if therapy is working?

    As you begin therapy, you should establish clear goals with your psychologist. You might be trying to overcome feelings of hopelessness associated with depression or control a fear that is disrupting your daily life. Remember, certain goals require more time to reach than others. You and your psychologist should decide at what point you may expect to begin to see progress.

    It is a good sign if you begin to feel a sense of relief, and a sense of hope. People often feel a wide variety of emotions during therapy. Some qualms about therapy that people may have result from their having difficulty discussing painful and troubling experiences. When you begin to feel relief or hope, it can be a positive sign indicating that you are starting to explore your thoughts and behavior.

    Examples of the types of problems which bring people to seek help from psychologists are provided below:

    A man in his late 20s has just been put on probation at work because of inappropriate behavior towards his staff and other employees. He has been drinking heavily and is getting into more arguments with his wife.

    Once the contributing factors that may have led to the man's increase in stress have been examined, the psychologist and the man will design a treatment that addresses the identified problems and issues. The psychologist will help the client evaluate how he coped with, and what he learned from, any earlier experiences he had with a similar problem that might be useful for dealing with the current situation.

    Functioning as a trained, experienced and impartial third party, the psychologist will help this client take advantage of available resources (his own as well as other resources) to deal with the problem. The psychologist also will assist this client with developing new skills and problem-solving strategies for confronting the problem he faces.

    Crying spells, insomnia, lack of appetite and feelings of hopelessness are some of the symptoms a woman in her early 40s is experiencing. She has stopped going to her weekly social activities and has a hard time getting up to go to work. She feels like she lives in a black cloud and can't see an end to the way she feels.

    The symptoms of depression are extremely difficult to deal with, and the causes may not be immediately apparent. Significant life changes — such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a job or a child's leaving home for college — may contribute to depression. Psychologists have a proven track record in helping people deal with and overcome depressive disorders.

    A psychologist will approach the problems this woman presents by addressing why she is reacting the way she is reacting now. Does she have a history or pattern of such feelings, and, if so, under what circumstances? What was helpful to her before when she dealt with similar feelings, and what is she doing now to cope with her feelings?

    The psychologist will work to help the client see a more positive future and reduce the negative thinking that tends to accompany depression. The psychologist also will assist the client in problem-solving around any major life changes that have occurred. And the psychologist may help facilitate the process of grieving if her depression resulted from a loss.

    Medical problems may contribute to the symptoms the woman is experiencing. In such cases, medical and psychological interventions are called for to help individuals overcome their depression.

    William, a successful businessman, has been laid off from work. Instead of looking for a job, he has gone on endless shopping sprees. He has gotten himself into thousands of dollars of debt, but he keeps spending money.

    What can be more perplexing than someone who does the opposite of what appears to be reasonable? William's friends and family members will likely be confused by his behavior. Yet, such behavior is not unfamiliar to psychologists who understand bipolar disorders. Of course, any psychologist would have to do a thorough evaluation to be able to understand the apparently contradictory behavior William exhibits. Following an evaluation, the psychologist might conclude that the behavior actually is a symptom of a depressive or some other form of mood disorder.

    Typically, the best results for such a condition have come from treatment that combines medication and therapy. Although psychologists do not provide medication, they maintain relationships with physicians who are able to assess a patient's need for appropriate medication. The psychologist offers understanding of human behavior and psychotherapeutic techniques that can be effective in helping William deal with his disorder.

    Scott, a teenager, has just moved across town with his family and has been forced to transfer to a new high school. Once an excellent student, he is now skipping classes and getting very poor grades. He has had trouble making friends at this new school.

    For most teenagers, "fitting in" is a critical part of adolescence. Scott is attempting to make a major life transition under difficult circumstances. He has been separated from the network of friends which made up his social structure and allowed him to feel "part of the group."

    Young people often respond to troubling circumstances with marked changes in behavior. Thus, an excellent student's starting to get poor grades, a social youngster's becoming a loner or a leader in school affairs losing interest in those activities would not be unusual. A psychologist, knowing that adolescents tend to "test" first and trust second, will likely initially spend time focusing on developing a relationship with Scott. Next, the psychologist will work with Scott to find better ways to help him adjust to his new environment.

    The full text of articles from APA Help Center may be reproduced and distributed for noncommercial purposes with credit given to the American Psychological Association. Any electronic reproductions must link to the original article on the APA Help Center. Any exceptions to this, including excerpting, paraphrasing or reproduction in a commercial work, must be presented in writing to the APA. Images from the APA Help Center may not be reproduced.

  • Sunday, September 22, 2019 7:03 PM | Anonymous

    As parents and teachers, you are the first line of support for kids and teens. It’s important for you to have an open line of communication with them and build a sense of trust. When your kids and teens are having difficulties, you want them to feel comfortable turning to you for help.

    Just as important, is the ability to identify when your kids are struggling emotionally. Kids and teens tend to internalize their feelings. If something is troubling them, they may not speak up and ask for support. Sometimes, they don’t realize that help is available. So, it’s essential for parents and teachers to be able to detect when something is wrong and how to approach your kids and teens.

    Getting your kids to open up and talk to you can feel like a challenge. The following tips can be helpful in starting a conversation and understanding what’s going on in their lives.

    Make them feel safe.

    You want to put kids and teens at ease so they feel comfortable talking to you. It is essential to make it clear why you are talking with them. Kids especially are fearful that they may be in trouble or are being punished if they are pulled aside to talk. Reassure them that this is not the case that you are there to offer support. Parents might consider scheduling a time to talk one-on-one on a regular basis, such as having lunch with your kid or teen weekly or biweekly.

    Listen to them.

    Take the time to actively listen to what your kid or teen has to say. Many times, all kids or teens want is someone who will listen to them. Try to understand their perspective before offering suggestions. Sometimes your own anxiety can prompt you to try to fix everything. But in many cases the best help you can offer is to listen attentively.

    Affirm and support their need for help.

    If a kid or teen tells you they’re feeling sad or upset, for example, tell them you’re proud of them for sharing their feelings. Let them know you appreciate the courage it took for them to talk with you and for trusting you to help them. If your kid seems to need more help than you can provide, consult with an appropriate professional. You may want to start by talking to the school psychologist.

    Be genuine.

    Try to avoid speaking from a script. Teens can tell when you’re not being genuine. If you are open, authentic and relaxed, it will help them to be the same.

    Don’t be afraid to say I don’t know.

    As a parent or teacher, it is OK to admit that you don’t have all the answers. However, if a kid or teen asks you something, you should make every effort to find an answer or someone who can help.

    Warning signs of suicide: Suicide is preventable.

    The two most important steps in preventing suicide are recognizing warning signs and getting help. Warning signs may include significant alcohol or drug use, a sudden drop in school performance or talking about death or hurting oneself. If you believe your child or student is in crisis, call 911 immediately and stay with him or her while help is on the way.

    The full text of articles from APA Help Center may be reproduced and distributed for noncommercial purposes with credit given to the American Psychological Association. Any electronic reproductions must link to the original article on the APA Help Center. Any exceptions to this, including excerpting, paraphrasing or reproduction in a commercial work, must be presented in writing to the APA. Images from the APA Help Center may not be reproduced.

  • Saturday, September 21, 2019 7:05 PM | Anonymous

    Everyone gets mad at times. The target of your ire might be a stranger, a loved one or even yourself. Or, you might find yourself furious over external events, such as a delayed flight or a political incident. While anger is a normal human emotion, misplaced or uncontrolled anger can quickly become problematic.

    You can learn strategies to help control your anger. Sometimes, though, people need extra help to keep their rage at bay.

    Psychologists can help people recognize and avoid the triggers that make them angry. They can also provide ways to help them manage the inevitable anger that sometimes flares without warning.

    Uncontrolled anger

    Uncontrolled anger looks different from person to person. Some people are quietly seething at the world most of the time. Some can’t help but dwell on events that made them mad. Others have quick tempers and may even exhibit aggressive or violent behavior.

    Uncontrolled anger can be hard to define. Unlike depression (which can be thought of as a dysfunctional form of sadness) or anxiety (a dysfunctional form of worry), uncontrolled anger doesn’t have a name or an official diagnosis.

    Nevertheless, anger can be dysfunctional, and people who experience it often don’t realize how big a problem it is. That’s because in the short term, anger can be effective. Blowing up at your kids might seem like a good strategy if it results in them doing their chores. Losing your temper at work might feel productive if it gets your coworkers to do things your way.

    Unfortunately, people often fail to see the long-term consequences of uncontrolled anger. Those can include health effects such as high blood pressure and increased risk of heart disease, as well as social disharmony among family members, friends and coworkers.

    You might need some help learning to control your anger if you recognize any these signs:

    Your friends or family members have said they think you have an anger problem or have distanced themselves from you as a result of your behavior.You have discord with coworkers.There are business establishments where you’re no longer welcome.You feel angry a lot of the time.You’re nursing a grudge or thinking about getting revenge.You have been or think about being aggressive or violent when angry.

    Seeing a psychologist about anger

    Hundreds of research studies have explored the effectiveness of therapies for treating anger. Several large analyses of the published research suggest that overall, approximately 75 percent of people receiving anger management therapy improved as a result.

    The majority of research on anger treatment has focused on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). In CBT, patients learn to identify unhelpful or negative thought patterns and change inaccurate beliefs. One CBT-based anger treatment is known as Stress Inoculation. This method involves exposing the person to imaginary incidents that would provoke anger, providing opportunities to self-monitor their anger and practice coping methods.

    Though there has been less research on other methods for treating anger, several appear to show promise. Those include:

    Family therapy helps family members resolve conflict and improve communication. It may helpful in addressing anger problems directed at a romantic partner and/or children.Psychodynamic therapy is an approach in which therapists help people use self-reflection to focus on the psychological roots of their emotional distress.

    Anger often goes hand-in-hand with other problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression or alcohol problems. Psychologists can help treat those conditions while also providing strategies for managing the anger that goes along with them.

    Psychotherapy for anger: What to expect

    If you see a psychologist for help with anger problems, you can plan on examining the triggers that set you off. You’ll explore how your experiences of anger were helpful or harmful, both in the short-term and in the long-term.

    You’ll probably examine the thoughts that precede your anger and explore whether they’re accurate assessments of reality. Psychologists may also help you learn to resolve conflicts in a more constructive way and rebuild relationships that have been damaged by your anger.

    Unfortunately, not all anger management classes are based on the latest scientific evidence. If you’re seeking help for your anger, look for a trained mental health professional with experience treating anger. They may offer treatments in one-on-one or in group settings.

    Psychologists are highly trained experts who tailor a treatment plan to address the unique needs of each patient. To find a licensed psychologist in your area, use our Psychologist Locator.

    The American Psychological Association gratefully acknowledges psychologists Raymond W. Novaco, PhD, and Raymond DiGiuseppe, PhD, for their help with this fact sheet.

    The full text of articles from APA Help Center may be reproduced and distributed for noncommercial purposes with credit given to the American Psychological Association. Any electronic reproductions must link to the original article on the APA Help Center. Any exceptions to this, including excerpting, paraphrasing or reproduction in a commercial work, must be presented in writing to the APA. Images from the APA Help Center may not be reproduced.

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The American Academy of Clinical Psychology is an independent membership association that encourages and promotes the development of excellence in the practice of Professional Psychology. The Academy is not affiliated with any other organization including the American Board of Professional Psychology.

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