Although most people are familiar with the profession ‘clinical psychologist’, there is little understanding when it comes to what they actually do. If you go a step further and ask what’s the difference between clinical psychology and psychiatry, you will most likely draw blank expressions.
Dr. Shobha Bantula has worked at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) in Bengaluru and owns an M.Phil. Degree from the renowned institution. Talking to Dr. Bantula, gave me insight into the field.
Dr. Bantula said, “For people with mental illness, social interaction becomes very difficult. Clinical psychologists come into the picture to educate the family or sometimes to teach the patients social skills.”
These skills are not the same for all disorders.
What is their role?
To understand the difference between a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist, we need to understand what roles they both play in a hospital.
When a patient loses complete touch with reality, it is suggested that they take medical help. These patients need medications so that they can be stabilized and treated. For example, a patient diagnosed with bipolar disorder has depression and mania, accompanied by hallucinations.
In this case, medications are prescribed to the patient by psychiatrists and once the patient’s mental state becomes stable and they regain touch with reality, clinical psychologists step in to begin therapy.
He or she analyses the difference between the patient’s behaviors before and after the illness hit them. Then they teach them social skills. Their diagnosis includes counselling sessions, group therapies, assessments, among others.
Where do you find them?
There are three types of hospitals – Primary care, Secondary care and Tertiary care. Clinical psychologists usually work at Secondary and Tertiary care hospitals. NIMHANS, which is the premier institution working on mental health in India is an example of a tertiary care hospital.
Clinical psychology is a field you can pursue if you have an undergraduate degree in psychology. You can work in a hospital, on par with other doctors.
In Dr Bantula’s words, “The satisfaction in the job as a clinical psychologist lies in seeing your patients regularly. You’re never bored with your job because every case is different. Every day is interesting.”
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Shrija Bhattacharya is a student of History, Journalism, and Travel & Tourism. She aspires to be a Travel Journalist someday. She is a bibliophile who cannot live without chocolates. She loves to travel because it enables one to explore other cultures and regions and relax at the same time