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Finding a psychologist, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist in a large city like Antwerp is not easy. Most centers for mental health have long waiting lists for psychotherapy and it is difficult to get an appointment with a psychologist, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist within a short amount of time.
Last Thursday I guided a group of Antwerp doctors. Conversation landed on the theme that doctors often find it difficult to refer their patients to a psychotherapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist because of the long waiting lists caused by a shortage of therapists. A way to deal with this shortage is by referring people to an online self-help program. Sometimes self-help is enough, and other times it is a good preparation for further therapy.
In my practice as physician and psychotherapist, I am often confronted with this issue.
A psychotherapist is a physician or psychologist with a certified degree in psychotherapy. Most good degrees for becoming a psychotherapist are only available to those with a diploma as a doctor or psychologist.
A psychologist is someone who has gotten a master’s degree in psychology at university.
Not every psychologist is a psychotherapist. A certified course in psychotherapy takes 4 years after one has gotten a degree as either a physician or a psychologist. So to become psychotherapist, you need to be either a psychologist or a doctor, but this does not work the other way around.
A psychiatrist is a doctor or physician who has specialized in psychiatry for 5 years after their studies in medical care.
No, not every psychiatrist follows the four-year psychotherapy course. If you want to know if some psychiatrist also is a psychotherapist, you ought to ask if they have followed the four-year education in psychotherapy.
Psychotherapy is the science of learning practical communication skills so you can guide someone in solving their problems. A recognized course in psychotherapy can often only be followed by people with a masters university diploma in either medical care, psychiatry, or psychology.
When you are looking for a therapeutic solution to a stress-bound problem like stress, anxiety, burnout or depression, you can consider online self-help as a solution. Often, self-help is enough for motivated patients to continue, and often it is a good preparation for psychotherapy while you are on the waiting list.
Many people start with online self-help with the guidance of their doctor, and then evaluate if they need any extra psychotherapy after a few weeks. Your doctor can properly guide you in making this decision.
A self-help program guides the participant through a daily process of therapeutic self-reflection, so that the participant themselves find a solution for dealing with the stress which causes their problems.
You can do an online, free stress test here to look at whether you have any stress which needs to be dealt with.