Why A Psychologist?

Please find below three sections addressing the following three issues:

  • What is unique about psychologists?
  • What are good questions you can ask a doctor to see if they are a good fit?
  • What kind of training must a psychologist undergo before they can become a licensed psychologist?

What is unique about psychologists?

Beyond a warm personality and a caring attitude, the practitioner you choose must have sharp analytical skills and offer you lasting solutions if they are to truly help you in a cost-effective manner. Practitioners should apply a “global neighborhood of knowledge” to your situation, to give you the most potent, sustainable, and economical solution. But, they must have a special kind of intellectual firepower to do this.
Too often, mental health practitioners do not apply the very best behavioral science methods to common problems such as ADHD, anxiety, anger, or OCD.

Another problem is people use medication as a first-line-of-treatment, instead of considering how a counselor/psychologist could teach them skills to prevent or reduce the need for medication.

Psychologists are uniquely suited to this challenge. Here’s why:

-Due to their unique training in statistics and research methods, they are specialists with how to sift through large bodies of treatment research to understand which studies are the most compelling. It is not convincing enough that a treatment has research behind it. The question is the quality of the research, and often that quality is largely dependent on the research methodology and statistics used by the authors of that article. Dr. Brunner is a published researcher and his history of published research is contained in his resume at the end of my Professional Background.

Remember: A doctor’s choice of how to treat your issues and help you reach your potential is partly rooted in their ability to compare competing scientific opinions. With ADHD, for example, there are over 30 treatments being promoted, how does your doctor choose the combination that is most effective?

-Given their unique scientific training, psychologists also have distinguished themselves as worldwide leaders in developing tools to usefully assess a wide spectrum of character traits and/or clinical issues including the following; ADHD, Aspergers syndrome, intelligence, giftedness, anxiety, depression, curiosity, and anger. Dr. Brunner’s own published research tool assesses youth anger, and is being been adapted into five languages. Tools like these reveal factors that are often vital to your getting effective help. Due to his development of this tool, Dr. Brunner is considered an assessment expert and has been widely consulted by local parents, schools, pediatricians, and attorneys.

Remember: Even seemingly simple problems like anxiety are complex, and often demand tools to match this level of complexity. Advanced tools ensure the particular way you are experiencing anxiety is appreciated and then treated in a more tailored fashion. No two people have the exact anxiety. If a practitioner only generically treats your anxiety without accounting for your personality (i.e., How your particular combination of anxiety symptoms interact with your personality makeup) then the treatment is doomed to be superficial and short-lived instead of thorough and sustainable. If this were not true, then you could treat yourself using the generic advice of your friends.

-Due to their unique training in the science of personality assessment (which has over 60 years of research behind it), psychologists are particularly skilled in how to comprehensively yet concisely assess your personality dynamics. Is personality assessment really that vital to improving everyday real world functioning? Yes. The proof is in the pudding. Look at how many organizations and athletic teams consult psychologists who use personality assesment tools. These groups are about choosing the most effective professional to get the “performance edge”. Dr. Brunner specializes in a strength-based approach, where he will help you utilize your natural talents to overcome any challenges by teaching you skills that you then internalize into a sustainable solution.

Good questions to ask psychologists (or any mental health practitioner)

-How much scientific training have you gone through to get your degree?
-How do you balance the need for being professional (and more objective) with the need to be caring and empathic (more personal)?
-How do you decide which techniques/treatments you will use?
-How much research is behind the assessment or treatment methods you use?
-How do you monitor whether someone is getting better or not?
-What experience do you have that would help with this problem?
-What are the variety of evidence-based methods available to help with the situation?
-How do you take into account the personality of the person you are treating?
-What steps do you take to make sure you are treating a person’s problems from within the uniqueness of their personality?

What training does a psychologist have to go through?

The wide variety of professionals who address emotional/behavioral/learning challenges include psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, counselors, therapists, life coaches, and others. What most people do not understand is that only the first three terms (i.e., psychologists, psychiatrist, and social worker) are legally protected terms, meaning, only those with specific training can call themselves one of these names. Of these three groups, psychologists by far have the most scientific training in non-medication approaches to solving emotional, behavioral, or learning challenges.

The term “Psychologist” is legally reserved for those who have obtained a doctoral degree (those who have a “Ph.D.”, or “Psy.D.” after their name) in the field psychology. That is why they are considered “Doctors of Psychology” at the end of their uniquely extensive behavioral science training. The Psychologist’s doctoral level training is composed of uniquely rigorous behavioral science training. These advanced skills are forged from at least 5 years of graduate (i.e., post Bachelor’s level) education, including a full year of residency/internship. After this internship, the Psychologist must complete an additional year of postdoctoral clinical hours, then pass a written national examination on psychological matters (i.e., the “EPPP”), and (in some cases) pass a state-specific examination related to the laws of that state. Only after at least five years of post graduate training can a professional call themselves a “Licensed Psychologist”.

Psychologists (like myself) who obtain a Ph.D. must contribute an original research study to the field (i.e., a dissertation) of Psychology. This is a much more extensive research project than a ‘thesis’, which is required of those who complete a master’s degree only. Doctoral level Psychologists are generally required to complete both a thesis and a dissertation.