If you have questions about the practice of psychology, you are not alone. Licensed psychologists are among the most highly educated folks in the land, but our profession sometimes seems shrouded in mystery, tainted with misperceptions, and infringed upon by individuals with dubious credentials. I believe that this is partially due to the fact that what we assess, diagnose, and/or treat cannot be palpated. And that is exactly why it requires such intensive and extensive training as both a scientist and a practitioner to become a licensed psychologist.
Some people visualize lying down on a couch to have their every word “analyzed” when they think of psychology. Although licensed psychologists are trained in psychotherapy (but most do not practice the “Freudian analysis” that many people visualize), for some of us this function is secondary to assessment and diagnosis. Most of us have extensive training in research methods, test design, and statistics, some of us have extensive training in neuroscience and brain-behavior relationships, and all of us have extensive training in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral problems.
I hope that the following information is beneficial in understanding the differences between some of the various service providers who may interface with you and your child. There is also information about psychological evaluation further down the page. If you scroll down to the bottom of this page, you’ll find links to questions and answers specific to neuropsychology and to special education.
I receive numerous questions from parents, school administrators, physicians, attorneys, and others about the differences in qualifications between psychologists, school psychologists, and licensed educational psychologists. There is a lot of confusion, and many people think that these titles all mean generally the same thing, and don’t understand that there are vast differences in educational level and qualifications between them. The similarity in titles contributes to these misconceptions, and also unfortunately allows those who are not doctors to “pose” as such. I am quite familiar with all three, as I am licensed or “credentialed” as all three. I’ve explained the main differences (see links at bottom of page).
Want to skip the explanations? You can find out very easily if someone is or isn’t a psychologist on the Board of Psychology’s website. Simply go to the link “Verify a License or Registration” and provide the name (you should also provide their city or county if they have a “common” name).