Recently I received an invitation to attend a professional development seminar from one of my affiliated associations.
I read the abstract once, twice then a third time. I was confused. It left me wondering, once more, how confused the general public must be about these professions.
The author, who shall remain nameless, was espousing a theoretical idea that is in effect a controversy. Personally and professionally I am always up for good controversy.
However, it was not the topic of his presentation that left me confused, it was his interchangeable use of the professional titles.
As I write the above sentence I wonder if you might now think I am somehow snobbish about the title.
I am not.
What I am concerned about is how the interchangeable use of titles in these professions have in effect caused confusion for the public.
Thereby impeding the help, members of the public require to recover from mental health issues.
You see the general public rarely know the difference between a psychologist, a psychotherapist, psychiatrist and even a counsellor.
I know this is the case because I have been asked this very question from endless people when I have had a conversation about what I do for work.
If this had occurred occasionally I might not have found myself at this place…. attempting to clarify, or demystify what happens from a philosophical and skill perspective within each of the mentioned professions.
We (the varying professions) do not properly delineate the different roles, titles and work content, as a result, this must make it highly confusing for the end user…. you, the public.
We have the differentiating titles for a reason. This is because it is where, how and when each individual practitioner makes a decision to train for their career.
In the abstract for this professional development session, he says
‘..Freud, Jung, Maslow, Eysenck, Skinner these and other influential psychologists have denied….’
(what was denied is not relevant to this discussion).
I am sure, particularly Freud and Jung would be rolling over in their graves knowing they have been referred to as psychologists. Not because they are title snobs…. well, actually, perhaps they were.
However, what is more important is the fact that Freud was a doctor of medicine, later developing the now famous theory psychoanalysis and I doubt ever referring to himself (or what he did) as a psychologist.
Jung was similar in that he was a psychiatrist developing another similar though a different branch of psychoanalytic practice.
He also never referred to himself as a psychologist. These two men were profoundly rooted in psychoanalysis and would, therefore, have seen themselves closer to (and in fact sometimes used the term) a psychotherapist.
Maslow, Eysenck and Skinner all clearly identified themselves as psychologists.
While there are crossovers in areas of these roles there are also a very clear demarcation and delineations between what and how these people worked, and how we now work.
Freud and Jung did long term work, understanding the unconscious process, complexes and early childhood work and transference and countertransference.
They were supremely interested in the things we can not easily observe, know, read, understand and cure.
Maslow, Eysenck and Skinner, on the other hand, developed and worked with cognitions of knowing and observable behavior.
They developed an assessment tool that could measure a person, thinking and behavior (though did very little in extrapolating feelings).
While Freud and Jung used this to a certain extent they were more focused on what was not easily observable.
So now you are perhaps asking why this is important.
My answer to that is simple, if we know what the title is, we know what the training was, thereby indicating to the public (and profession) the work which shall be embarked upon. Thereby the type of treatment each person will receive.
In his bio, this presenter says he worked for 25 years as a psychotherapist.
However, he then goes on to speak at length of his work as a behaviourist over this period. This is not
Over the coming months, I shall discuss the variance between differing treatments in mental health, and in particular, the four professions mentioned here.
You are free to read the information on my website that I hope, defines more these differences.
My book Delving Deeper: Understanding diverse approaches while exploring psychotherapy is also available.
Over time I will also release sections of this book, Delving Deeper written on this subject to assist in illuminating and illustrating this difference.
My sole intention here is so that you as the reader, and the general public might become more informed when looking for assistance in your mental health well being. Because if you are on this website, it is highly likely you are on such a journey and looking for information.
Obviously, as I am a psychotherapist my information will lean toward the understanding of psychotherapy.
However, this alone will assist in your decision making. Long term work is not for everyone.
If your symptoms can be alleviated through short term cognitive behavioural (CBT) work, I do not suggest anyone look further.