Mental health issues such as depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), are some of the most common health conditions in the United States. It is estimated that one in five Americans experience some form of mental illness in any given year and over 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder in their lifetime. Leaving mental illnesses untreated can have long-term effects on not just your mind, but also your body, increasing your risk of suicide by as much as 90%. On the other hand, seeing a good clinical psychologist near you can help with the alleviation and treatment of these types of conditions by identifying the root of the problem and helping you deal with it, thereby cultivating your well-being and providing you with a more stable personal life.
When considering the right clinical psychologist near you to help with the treatment of a mental illness or disorder, it is important to make sure that this individual is duly qualified to handle these types of issues per the recognized standards and guidelines of this profession. You can do this by asking the following questions:
Are You Licensed, Registered, or Certified?
Clinical psychologists are required to have a state-issued professional license before they can render their services to members of the public. The specifics for obtaining this license varies by state, but they generally involve having a minimum of a doctoral degree in psychology gotten from either a government-chartered or a regionally accredited institution and passing the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. You should always make sure that the clinical psychologist you intend to see has a valid state-issued professional license. You can contact your local psychology licensing board to find out the specific licensing requirements for clinical psychologists in your area of residence and to also verify any licenses that these professionals may present as theirs.
In addition to licensing, it is also a good idea to find out whether the clinical psychologist you intend to see is a member of a professional association or has any professional certifications. Professional certifications can be obtained from organizations like the American Board of Professional Psychology and the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology. These certifications generally indicate that the psychologist has an advanced level of expertise and proficiency and will likely be better suited to help you handle your mental health issues. Likewise, membership in professional associations assures you that the psychologist has a certain degree of accountability and as such will handle your issues in the most professional way possible. Examples of professional associations that clinical psychologists typically belong to include the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, and the National Alliance of Professional Psychology Providers. Note that you should always request proof of professional association membership or professional certification from any clinical psychologist that claims to have either.
How Much Does It Cost to See a Clinical Psychologist?
Seeing a clinical psychologist in the United States will cost you an average of $60 - $150 per 45 to 60-minute session. Depending on certain factors, this cost can go as low as $20 - $50 or as high as $200 or more per session. Some of these factors include:
- Your location
- The clinical psychologist's level of training and experience
- The clinical psychologist's reputation
- The total length of the session
- Your insurance coverage
The best way to stay within your budget when you have to see a clinical psychologist is through insurance coverage. Certain federal laws, such as the Affordable Care Act, require insurance plans to provide coverage for mental health care that are on par with their coverage of other physical ailments. Note that you should always confirm the type of insurance payments that the clinical psychologist you intend to see accepts. Also, you should contact your insurance provider to find out the extent of coverage provided by your plan and whether there are any specific criteria that you have to meet to qualify for this coverage.
Some other ways that you can save costs on seeing a clinical psychologist are:
- Ask about sliding scales. Some clinical psychologists utilize a sliding scale fee structure in which lower-income individuals are charged discounted rates for therapy sessions. In addition, some clinical psychologists also offer the option of paying for their services over time in installments. If you are a low-income earner or you have to pay for your sessions out of pocket, then you should find out if the clinical psychologist near you that you intend to see utilizes these types of payment structures.
Find out if your state's Medicaid program includes coverage for psychological services, the extent of this coverage, and whether you are eligible for these services.
- Contact your local department of public or community health to get referrals on low-cost or free mental health clinics.
- Consider enrolling in mental health condition studies at your local college or university if you have a specific diagnosis that is currently being researched. These institutions generally offer free mental health care, including therapy and medication, to individuals that sign up for these studies. Likewise, if you are a student at any of these institutions, then you may qualify for free healthcare and you should make inquiries about this.
Pay for your clinical psychologist with pre-tax money through a health savings account. Depending on your tax bracket, you can save money on out-of-pocket clinical psychology expenses by opening a health savings account. Note that these accounts are only available to individuals that have a High Deductible Health Plan and payments made via these accounts are tax-deductible.
What Are Common Clinical Psychologist Expenses?
There are usually no additional expenses that are incurred by seeing a clinical psychologist and in many cases, the cost of each session is all you will have to pay. However, some clinical psychologists may charge a separate fee for an initial assessment before you book subsequent sessions with them. During an initial assessment, the clinical psychologist usually tries to get an understanding of your problems and may either develop a subsequent plan for addressing, resolving, or treating these issues, or refer you to a different psychologist that can help you better. These initial assessments typically last for 30 90 minutes depending on the clinical psychologist, and you may be charged a flat fee, a percentage of the psychologist's normal hourly fee, or the complete session rate. In addition to this, many clinical psychologists also charge extra fees for after-hour and weekend sessions. As such, when booking a session with a clinical psychologist near you, it is always a good idea to inquire about any additional fees you may incur that are not covered by the cost of your sessions. You should also properly store any receipts or invoices that you are issued for record-keeping purposes.
Who Will Do the Work?
Whether you retain the services of a clinical psychologist through a private practice, a health clinic, and other similar mental health care institutions, the first thing that you should do is verify the license of this professional. In addition to validating this license, it is also a good idea to find out if any disciplinary actions have been taken against your intended clinical psychologist.
Many clinical psychologists carry out an initial assessment of their potential clients and you should also use this opportunity to make sure that the psychologist is the best fit for you. Discuss your aims and goals for booking the session and how these can be achieved. Find out how many hours of the week will be made available for your therapy, whether or not you can see the psychologist in the event of an emergency, and how to contact the psychologist in these types of situations. Choosing a clinical psychologist is a personal matter and so it is necessary to make sure that this individual is someone you can trust. If you are uncomfortable with or have any misgivings towards the clinical psychologist by the end of the initial assessment, then you should consider searching for a different psychologist until you get one that is the right fit for you.
What Qualifications Should a Clinical Psychologist Have?
Clinical psychologists are generally required to have a doctoral degree in psychology and obtain a state-issued license before practicing. Licensing requirements vary by state, but they typically involve completing an internship and an average of one to two years of supervised professional experience. Clinical psychologists are also required to pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology administered by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards before being licensed and subsequently complete mandatory continuing education requirements to maintain their licenses.
According to figures published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States currently has over 111,300 employed clinical, counseling, and school psychologists. Some of these clinical psychologists belong to professional associations like the American Psychological Association, the National Alliance of Professional Psychology Providers, and the Association for Psychological Science. Finally, even though it is not a mandatory requirement, many clinical psychologists that wish to demonstrate professional expertise in their field do so by obtaining certifications from associations like the American Board of Professional Psychology and the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology.
Will You Provide References?
When contemplating the choice of the right clinical psychologist to see concerning your mental health issues, it is always a good idea to get referrals from friends or relatives that have been in therapy. You can also get referrals on good clinical psychologists near you from trusted sources like your doctor, attorney, minister, or reputable organizations like the American Psychological Association and the National Register of Health Service Psychologists. However, because psychologists are statutorily and ethically bound to protect the confidentiality of their clients, any clinical psychologist that you intend to see will typically not be able to provide you with details of their past clients as references.
Considering this, it is important to always do your due diligence on these psychologists before finalizing any arrangements for therapy sessions. You can do this by utilizing the services of third-party websites like Better Business Bureau, Yelp, and Google Review to look up client-published reviews and opinions on the clinical psychologist. Note that a few negative reviews on these websites against a clinical psychologist do not necessarily mean that the psychologist is incompetent. However, if these negative reviews far outweigh the positive ones, then you should strongly consider finding another clinical psychologist near you. It is also advisable to contact your state's psychology licensing board to inquire about the disciplinary history of the clinical psychologist. This inquiry should include questions like whether or not any complaints have been filed against the psychologist, the circumstances behind these complaints and reports, and any disciplinary actions that were taken.
Quick Facts about Clinical Psychologists
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Expert Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Clinical Psychologists
Is a Clinical Psychologist a Therapist?
Although the terms clinical psychologist and therapist are often used interchangeably to refer to professionals that handle mental health issues, in reality not all therapists can refer to themselves as clinical psychologists. However, all clinical psychologists can work as therapists. The most noticeable difference between these two types of mental health care professionals is in their respective educational requirements. Clinical psychologists are typically required to have a minimum educational qualification of a doctoral degree in psychology while therapists generally require a master's degree in their various psychology-related fields. Also, clinical psychologists are generally more research-oriented than therapists. Finally, when treating patients, clinical psychologists tend to focus more on how thoughts and behaviors interact with the patient's environment and mental state as a whole, while therapists typically utilize a more holistic approach and mostly focus on the patient's emotional state.
What Do Clinical Psychologists Diagnose and Treat? What Types of Mental Health Problems Does a Clinical Psychologist Treat?
Clinical psychologists diagnose, assess, and treat a wide variety of mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders, ranging from short-term issues like work and relationship-related stress and conflict to more serious long-term issues like alcohol and substance addiction, PTSD, and anxiety disorders.
What Questions Do Clinical Psychologists Ask?
Some of the most common questions that you may be asked during an initial session with a clinical psychologist are:
- What brings you here?
- Is this your first time seeing a psychologist?
- What prompted you to seek professional help now?
- What is the problem from your point of view?
- What things or people in your life are causing you problems?
- How does this problem make you feel?
- How often do you experience the problem
- What makes the problem better?
- How connected do you feel to the people around you?
- How would you describe your mood?
- What do you hope to accomplish with these sessions?
- What positive changes do you want to make in your life?
Note that the specific questions that you will be asked during a session with your clinical psychologist generally depend on the particular mental health-related issue that you are having and the information that you provide to the psychologist.
What Therapies Do Clinical Psychologists Use?
Clinical psychologists generally use the following types of therapies to treat their patients:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: this involves studying and understanding the patient's thinking patterns and figuring out ways to help the patient change, combat, or get rid of any thought patterns that cause emotional harm.
- Psychodynamic/Psychoanalytic Therapy: this type of therapy focuses on self-examination and self-awareness and is aimed at helping the patients identify the root cause of their problems or suffering.
- Humanistic Therapy: humanistic therapy focuses on getting patients to understand how their worldview affects their everyday choices and it is aimed at helping these patients gain personal acceptance, determine their desires and wishes for life, and figure out how to achieve these.
What Is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health disorder that typically develops after experiencing, witnessing, learning about, or being repeatedly exposed to a traumatic event. Many people who go through these types of events tend to have a temporary period of mental distress before feeling better over time, usually within days, weeks, or a few months at most. However, in individuals with PTSD, this period of mental distress persists for several months and even years, and may begin to interfere with their day-to-day activities.
What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?
PTSD symptoms may begin to occur soon after witnessing a traumatic event, or they may be delayed and not appear until months or years later. These symptoms are grouped into four categories, which are:
- Intrusive memories: the person repeatedly has unwanted and distressing memories of the traumatic event.
- Avoidance: the person actively tries to avoid situations, people, and places that remind them of the traumatic event.
- Negative moods, feelings, and beliefs: the person begins to have negative changes in the way they think about themselves and the world in general.
- Hyper-arousal: the person constantly feels worked up, agitated, and always on the lookout for danger.
It is important to note that the intensity of these symptoms varies over time and from person to person.
Is Therapy Confidential?
Yes, therapy is confidential. Clinical psychologists are ethically bound by a professional code of ethics to protect any information that is disclosed to them by patients during therapy sessions, as well as any correspondence that is related to these sessions. However, it should be noted that, per federal law, a clinical psychologist may disclose details of your therapy under certain situations. This includes situations that are of public interest or benefit such as matters that involve neglect, abuse, or domestic violence. Likewise, several states also have varying laws that permit the disclosure of protected health information.
What If I Am Not Sure That My Psychologist and I Are a Good Match?
If you feel that your psychologist is not a good match for you, then you should consider seeing another clinical psychologist near you that may be a better fit. However, it is advisable to discuss your misgivings with your current psychologist instead of just dropping out. Professional psychologists are generally open to feedback, and these discussions may even result in significant progress in your case.
What Training Does a Clinical Psychologist Have?
Clinical psychologists generally undergo 8 12 years of educational training. This includes four to five years of undergraduate education and four to seven years earning a doctoral degree and gaining pre-doctoral internship and post-doctoral supervised professional experience.