Psychology – FAQ

Psychology – Frequently Asked Questions

What is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is a process where a trained professional builds a relationship with a patient for the purpose of helping the patient with psychological symptoms, behavioral problems or for personal growth.  The patient usually shares his feelings and thoughts to a nonjudgmental, empathic listener which helps the patient heal.  As a result, the patient feels validated, valued and understands their feelings and emotions more completely.  Patients often lead more fulfilling lives with greater career success and meaningful relationships. Symptoms such as anxiety, depression, addiction and other self destructive behavior often diminish.  Psychotherapy has been shown to be beneficial to many patients. In one of the most comprehensive studies, (Howard et al), 50% of patients showed mental health improvement after 12 sessions and 80% after 6 months of psychotherapy.

How are psychologists trained?

On average, psychologists have five to seven years of training in addition to their Bachelor’s degree, and 3,000 hours of supervised practice in psychology.  A year of supervised post-doctoral psychological training must be completed before psychologists take their national test and a state-administered oral exam.

Psychologists licensed to practice in the state of California have degrees in the following: Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (Ph.D.), Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.), or Doctor of Education (Ed.D.). Psychologists are further required to take continuing education courses each year to keep their licenses current and to continually learn.

What is the difference between a Psychologist and a Psychiatrist?

Clinical Psychologist are licensed and registered by the state.

Individuals who refer to themselves as “counselors” or provide “counseling” are not to be confused with Psychologists who offer counseling, psychotherapy or other therapy services.  Psychologists do not prescribe medications in the state of California.

Psychiatrists attend medical school and receive Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree. Following the completion of this degree, individuals are then required to complete a post-graduate residency-training program with a specialization in psychiatry. Treatment approaches are often more biologically based.  Psychiatrists are able to prescribe psychotropic medications.

What is the typical length of treatment?

Dr. Whitman typically holds 45 minute weekly sessions for individuals.  Couples or group appointments may be a little longer.  Individuals may consider and opt for treatment more frequently than once a week. This more intensive treatment can be very beneficial but does require a greater financial and time commitment.

How long will I be in therapy?

Since each person has individual needs, length of treatment will vary based on the patients needs.  The length of a patient’s therapy is not pre-determined; instead it is tailored to each patient’s needs.