Definition and Overview

Psychology consultation is a diagnostic procedure that involves the assessment of the patient’s present state of mind and how it affects his or her behavior and function. Based on a series of tests and their results, the psychologists develop a personalized treatment plan, which is implemented and monitored throughout the succeeding appointments.

Psychology is more than the study of the mind; it also revolves around the relationship between the mind and its effects on the behavior, personality, learning or cognitive capabilities, motor skills, and overall function of human beings. Practitioners of psychology are called psychologists.

Often, psychologists are confused with psychiatrists and vice versa. Although they often work together in various settings and cases, they are different. A psychologist is a specialist while a psychiatrist is a doctor. Both undergo undergraduate degrees, but psychologists proceed to earn either a master’s or Ph.D. degree before they are legally allowed to practice. Psychiatrists, meanwhile, specialize and go through residency training in a hospital.

Psychologists are found in various industries including but not limited to health care, education, and businesses, usually helping in the human resource department. Some decide to proceed to psychometrics. Upon obtaining their bachelor’s and master’s degrees, they can work on designing, evaluating, modifying, and analyzing various tests for measurements.

Like psychiatrists, psychologists, especially clinical psychologists, can diagnose a disorder based on the patient's behavior, personality, performance in tests as well as verbal and nonverbal communication like eye contact. They are also allowed to prescribe medications other than recognized therapies usually for the correction, management, or prevention of a mental disease.

Who Needs It and Expected Results

Psychologists may be needed by:

  • Patients who have been diagnosed with a mental illness – Often, these are patients who have already seen a psychiatrist, were given a diagnosis, and were presented with medications. They are either referred or have reached out to psychologists to supplement their medications to modify certain behaviours and cope with existing symptoms.

  • Children with learning disabilities – Many psychologists work with children who are diagnosed with a developmental disorder or learning disability such as dyslexia. Their training can help these children function similarly as the general population.

  • People suspected of a certain illness – Psychologists can perform assessments to diagnose mood disorders, dementia or Alzheimer’s, anxiety, depression, autism spectrum, etc.

  • Injured patients – An injury can affect a person’s behaviour and state of mind, leading to the development of symptoms such as depression or anxiety. Some injuries can also affect the head or brain, which can then create cognitive changes.

  • Those who are under stressful situations – A highly stressed person can see a psychologist even with the absence of any symptoms of a disorder. Stress can change a person’s personality, cognition, and emotion, particularly when it’s chronic or caused by a significant event like a death in the family, divorce, or impending surgery or delivery.

  • Psychologists may also be needed to perform risk assessments in the workplace or school, as well as appear in courts or other legal proceedings to testify or answer questions that may help in the resolution of the case. They can also perform forensic consultations, including assessing victims and suspects.

How Does It Work?

A patient who believes that he has a mental or emotional disorder may see either a psychiatrist or psychologist. Sometimes the patient is referred by other professionals such as a teacher, general doctor, or a psychiatrist following a diagnosis or the development of specific symptoms.

Consultations are often performed in the psychologist’s clinic, which is designed to be relaxing and comfortable to help reduce the patient's level of stress and anxiety. The psychologist begins by asking the purpose of the consultation, followed by the analysis of any existing referrals, findings, and workups.

The professional then performs different tests, including physical exams as well as a clinical interview. Certain tests may also be carried out such as IQ, personality, and behavioral tests. The patient may then have to come back for any official diagnosis and/or treatment plan.

Possible Risks and Complications

Psychology consultations are generally safe. These professionals have the knowledge, training, and experience to effectively manage behavioural problems and mental disorders. Nevertheless, a patient may encounter certain issues.

One, psychologists deal on a more personal level, and it’s possible that the patient may not feel comfortable talking to them during consultations. Second, treatment plans are not 100% guaranteed to work. If they don’t, the patient may feel frustrated with the process and opt not continue. Inconsistencies in treatment may worsen the problem.

References:

  • The American Psychological Association. http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/ipp/
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