What is a psychologist and what is psychotherapy?

Dr. Olsen is a licensed psychologist in the state of California/USA (Lic. 23573).

Psychologists (PsyD or PhD) 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.

Psychologists are generally licensed in the United States. A psychologist is typically the culmination of earning a doctoral degree in clinical, counseling or school psychology, accruing postdoctoral clinical hours and passing the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. 

Other licensed psychotherapists are licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT) and licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Both licenses require a Masters’degree in psychology, counseling or social work in the US.

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 CPA or APA’s provider locator services. 

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. 

Which is better, therapy or medication? Do I need therapy?

Psychotherapy is proven to be effective for a variety of problems including stress, depression, anxiety, trauma, attention, relationship/Family problems, life transition issues, workplace issues, and motivation issues. In initial meetings, Dr.Olsen will ask you about your goals or concerns and background information. She'll discuss a right approach, the length of therapy, and a plan with you. Once we mutually agree on the course of treatment, we'll start a formal session. You'll be provided with her office policies and treatment agreement at the office. 

Both medication and psychotherapy have been shown to be effective in treating mental illness.  

The type of treatment used depends on the nature of the problem. Generally, medication is often prescribed for conditions known to have strong biological components, such as major depression, bipolar disorder, or panic disorder.  

Research suggests that use of medication and psychotherapy together may be the best approach, especially for more severe conditions. The medication offers relief from symptoms, and psychotherapy enables the individual to gain knowledge about his/her/their condition and how to handle it. This combined approach offers the fastest, longest-lasting treatment.

Dr.Olsen also offers mental wellness coaching services for young adult professionals who want to develop healthy habits and improve motivation. 

What are different approaches to psychotherapy?

There are many different approaches to psychotherapy. Use of one method or another depends on the psychologist’s or therapist’s training, style and personality. Some psychologists use one approach with all patients; others are eclectic, and some tailor their approach based on particular patients’ needs, symptoms and personality. For example, 

The psychodynamic  approach focuses on understanding where the patient’s problems or symptoms came from. The therapist helps the patient recognize how the past is repeated in the present.

Cognitive-behavioral approaches emphasize learning to recognize and change maladaptive thought patterns and behaviors, improve how feelings and worries are handled, and break the cycle of dysfunctional habitual behaviors. This perspective helps people see the connection between how they think, what they tell themselves, and the feelings and actions that follow.

Interpersonal approaches emphasize identifying and understanding self-defeating patterns in relationships, figuring out why a particular situation is happening in a particular context, changing patterns that don’t work and developing healthier ones. In this approach, relationships and the here-and-now are the focus.

Dr.Olsen is trained in Psychodynamic, Humanistic, Mindfulness, Cognitive-Behavioral, Trauma informed therapy, Play therapy and  other evidence-based modalities. 

References: American Psychological Association (apa.org)