A PhD in mental health counseling is necessary to work as a psychiatrist. Someone with a doctorate in mental health counseling may be permitted to practice as a professional psychiatrist if they hold other Doctor of Medicine credentials. This occupation involves offering services to improve a patient’s emotional well being and to treat psychiatric illnesses. Holders of PhD (doctorate) degrees can also work as clinical social workers or clinical psychologists. Although their scope of practice may vary slightly, all deal with the same disorders, illnesses, issues, and conditions. Psychiatrists diagnose and treat emotional problems suffered by individuals, families, and couples. They have to counsel patients with a view to improving personal relationships as well as treating psychological disorders. Therefore, the scope of their practices often overlaps.
Mental Health Counseling Training and Education
To qualify, an aspirant psychiatrist first has to pursue a Bachelors degree which is followed by four years at medical school. After this, to obtain a PhD in mental health counseling, the graduate has to attend an internship program for a year. Thereafter, three years must be spent at a hospital while training as a psychiatrist. When this has been successfully completed, a trainee psychiatrist must take a state licensing board examination in order to receive a license to practice. The exam is a stringent test on psychiatric sub-specialties, the clinical science of psychiatry, and the basic sciences. It contains written and oral components.
Careers in Mental Health Counseling
During the course of their work, psychiatrists also use diagnostic and laboratory testing to shed light on the physical and mental state of patients. Apart from psychotherapy and medication, shock treatment is frequently used. Treatment modules are different for each individual patient. The most common disorders are psychosis, substance abuse, depression, sexual dysfunction, anxiety, and developmental disabilities.
Patients are referred to a psychiatrist by other health care practitioners. A mental health professional (MHP) often liaises with the patient’s medical doctor to plan a treatment program. The MHP’s role is to provide psychotherapy and psychiatric medication. The significant difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist is that psychiatrists are permitted to prescribe drugs. Psychologists are only allowed to provide verbal therapy.
Let’s focus more closely on the career of a psychiatrist. Their work is often stressful as they treat patients who are very emotionally unstable. Some patients have severe psychological disorders that result in dangerous behaviors which can harm themselves as well as those around them.
Psychiatrists work in private practices or mental health institutions. It can take a while to build a successful private practice so most new graduates begin their careers by working for an established practice. Those with PhDs who do not wish to treat patients can take on lecturing jobs at universities and colleges, or become deans of psychiatric faculties. Alternatively, they can become administrators or researchers.
Estimated Income and Projected Job Outlook
The working environment of a practicing psychiatrist with a PhD in mental health counseling should be peaceful and quiet so that patients feel comfortable and at ease. Those who are self-employed often have irregular working hours because of emergency situations. The hours are more stable for salaried employees at institutions because shift rosters are in place. The average salary in the US for this occupation is $180,000 a year for those with doctoral degrees.
Programs in Mental Health Counseling
Pioneering distance education since 1985, Liberty University is now the nation’s seventh largest university. With more than 300 online and residential areas of study, Liberty offers programs from the certificate to doctoral level.
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- Ph.D. International Psychology
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