Should Your Child See A Psychologist Or A Therapist?

Let’s explore the roles of therapists and psychologists to help you make the most befitting choice for your child.

Are you noticing that your child is not doing well these days? They might not be eating well or getting proper sleep. Is your child dissociating themselves from everyone and everything? Your child might be going through something they refuse to discuss with you.

They might need someone to help them sort their thoughts and nudge them in the right direction. Maybe it’s time to give professional help a chance.

Once you’ve finally decided to get professional help for your child’s mental health, you need to consider your options carefully. You’ll come across all sorts of mental health professionals to help your child overcome feelings such as depression and anxiety.

Should Your Child See A Psychologist Or A Therapist?

During the search, you might note that the terms therapist and psychologist are used interchangeably due to the significant overlaps in both roles. For instance, you can approach either in case of any of these instances:

  • Your child is experiencing a nerve-racking situation in life, for instance, your divorce, relocation to a new school or city, bullying, or a health problem.
  • Your child has severe emotional problems stemming from traumas such as abuse, accident, or losing a loved one.
  • Your child’s mental health seems to be getting worse instead of better as the days pass.
  • You notice that your child distances themselves from everyone and prefers to spend more time alone locked up in their room.
  • Your child expresses pain and grief in unhealthy ways such as tantrums, anger management issues, or self-destructive behaviors.
  • Your child is having trouble focusing in class and tends to space out a lot.
  • Your child is underperforming in school, has dropped out of extracurricular activities, and refuses to socialize with peers.

You need to understand both roles to approach the right one for your child. Before differentiating the roles, let’s explore counseling vs. psychology in terms of graduate degrees. A master’s in psychology and a degree in counseling follow different curricula that yield different outcomes.

Should Your Child See A Psychologist Or A Therapist?

Consequently, professionals with counseling degrees have different expertise than professionals with psychology degrees. Professionals with counseling degrees gain skills and knowledge to help clients express empathy, provide life guidance, teach healthy coping mechanisms, address conflict, and express themselves better.

Professionals with psychology degrees receive training in personality disorders and learning disabilities. They are also skilled in conducting aptitude tests, performance measurements, personality characterizations, and IQ tests.

It may not be very clear for you to choose between a therapist or a psychologist for your child due to the overlapping similarities. However, both the professionals differ significantly in several ways, including the methods of diagnosis and treatment they use.

Let’s explore the roles of therapists and psychologists to help you make the most befitting choice for your child.

When To Opt For A Therapist?

Should Your Child See A Psychologist Or A Therapist?

“Therapist” is technically the umbrella term for all mental health specialists. Child therapy can help you and your child manage difficult times more effectively. They can help your child better their mental health and use healthy coping mechanisms. A therapist can help your child manage difficult circumstances and improve communication with family members.

There are several things to consider to help you deduce whether therapy is the right fit for your child. Here are a few instances which deem therapy as more suitable:

  • Your child needs emotional support and someone to vent out to in confidentiality.
  • You want your child to get help in managing tough behaviors and for yourself to get along with your child better.
  • Your child is going through big changes, anger issues, depression, or anxiety.
  • You want your child to get better without requiring medication.
  • Your child is displaying unhealthy coping mechanisms.

It is pertinent to note that while therapists can diagnose your child’s mental condition and help sort it, they aren’t authorized to prescribe medication. In essence, your child may benefit from therapy if they’re struggling with mental problems and would like to discuss them with someone routinely without administering any medication.

When To Opt For A Psychologist?

Should Your Child See A Psychologist Or A Therapist?

Psychologists have studied various aspects of psychology and are well-versed in human behavior. They can conduct several tests to understand child psychology that therapists can’t. The tests can diagnose learning problems and mental health problems such as learning disabilities, autism, and ADHD.

One might also establish that “all psychologists are therapists, but not all therapists are psychologists.” Your child can benefit greatly from seeing a psychologist in the following instances:

  • Your child suffers from a condition that affects their neurology or learning capability, for instance, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, or a learning disorder in any form.
  • You require a detailed diagnosis to identify the underlying causes of your child’s mental health problems.
  • Your child displays behavior or emotional problems that require support.
  • You want to identify the changes your child’s school can make to facilitate them better.
  • Your child needs help in clarifying feelings and making decisions.

Similar to therapists, psychologists cannot prescribe medication either as they are not medical doctors. The broad training psychologists receive during the five to six years during their doctorate also enables them to work as teachers and professors in addition to their role as psychologists. Psychologists also conduct research and often work together with other medical professionals.

Final Thoughts

Should Your Child See A Psychologist Or A Therapist?

Unusual circumstances, losses, or significant changes can take a massive toll on your child’s mental health. Your child may start displaying unhealthy behaviors and distance themself from you. In such instances, your child needs to see a mental health specialist to help them sort out their thoughts and be able to heal.

Therapists and psychologists are both professionals who can help your child improve their mental health, yet the roles differ from each other in various ways. Therapists are professionals with master’s degrees in mental health, such as counseling, family and marriage therapy, and social work.

On the other hand, psychologists are professionals with medical and doctoral degrees such as psychology. The difference mainly lies in the methodologies devised for diagnosis and treatment.

The most critical aspect to look for in a mental health worker is the ability to make your child feel free of judgment, safe, and comfortable. You also need to be vigilant of the professional’s license, educational background, and clinical experience.

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