For the Public

What is a Psychologist? What kind of services do they provide?

How do I find a psychologist?

Many insurance companies will have different benefits for mental health services as opposed to medical services.  If you wish to locate a psychologist, first check with your insurance plan to see if you have to go to one within their network.  Be sure to ask about your mental health benefits in terms of whether there is a network of providers and whether you need authorization to see someone. 

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Who is a psychologist?

A psychologist is a licensed mental health professional who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders. They provide specialized testing to identify personality and cognitive abilities, often at the request of other mental health professionals. Psychologists use their expertise in human theory and behavior to provide group and individual counseling, and psychotherapy for the purpose of cognitive retraining, management of behavior or the development of coping skills. However, psychologists generally cannot prescribe medications. Psychologists frequently function as part of a treatment team that can include physicians, nurses, social workers, and other professionals. They have received a doctoral degree (Ph.D., Ed.D. or Psy.D.), but must attend continuing education programs to maintain licensure.

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What kind of training do psychologists receive?

In Indiana, psychologists are licensed after they have received their doctoral degree from an accredited institution.  As part of their degree, psychologists have a one-year internship in which they are supervised as they provide services.  After obtaining their degree, psychologists must pass a national professional exam in psychology as well as an exam regarding Indiana laws for the practice of psychology.  In addition, a newly licensed psychologist must have an additional year (1800 hours ) of supervised work.  After this year, the psychologist applies for an endorsement in their license that is called a “Health Service Provider in Psychology” or HSPP.  Only HSPP psychologists can practice independently without supervision in Indiana.

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What is the difference between a Ph.D., an Ed.D., and a Psy.D.?

These degrees indicate some differences in training, but are essentially the same in terms of practice. A person who has a Ph.D. actually has a Doctoral Degree of Philosophy in Psychology (usually clinical or counseling). A person with an Ed.D. possesses a Doctorate Of Education Degree and training has been directed towards educational practice and the application of theory and research. A person who has a Psy.D. has a Doctoral Degree in Psychology and training has been directed toward the provision of psychological services. The different types of degrees reflect a difference in the philosophy of training with Ph.D. programs emphasizing a greater research orientation than Ed.D. and Psy.D. programs. Each of these programs prepare individuals to be practicing psychologists.

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What type of services do psychologists provide?

In Indiana, psychologists are licensed to provide the following services:

  1. Construction, administration, and interpretation of tests of intellectual and cognitive abilities, aptitudes, skills, interests, attitudes, personality characteristics, perception, emotion, motivation, and opinion.
  2. Diagnosis and treatment of mental and behavioral disorders by a health service provider in psychology.
  3. Educational and vocational planning and guidance.
  4. Personnel selection and management.
  5. Arrangement of effective work and learning situations.
  6. Resolution of interpersonal and social conflicts.

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Are all therapists the same? 

Psychotherapy is a treatment service that can be provided by different mental health professionals.  Most psychotherapies are administered by either a clinical psychologist, a counseling psychologist, a licensed clinical social worker, a psychiatric nurse, a mental health counselor, a marriage and family therapist, or a psychiatrist.  As can be seen, there are quite a few professionals that fall under the category of “therapists”.  Each of them assists with emotional and behavioral problems, but they are different in terms of the type of training and approach to the problem.  The following table illustrates some of these differences:

Professional Category



Educational Approach


Ph.D., Ed.D., or Psy.D.

Graduate training 4 years, plus 1 year internship and 1 year post-degree supervision

Study of science related to the brain and behavior

Licensed clinical social worker

Masters of Social Work

Graduate training 2 years, plus 2 years post-degree supervision

Study of human development and social welfare

Licensed mental health counselor

Masters degree

In mental health related field, such as addictions, psychology, or social work

Graduate training of 2 years plus 2 years post-degree supervision

Study related to the primary area of the degree

Marriage and family therapist

Masters degree in marriage and family therapy

Graduate training of 2 years plus 2 years post-degree supervision

Study of theories of human relationships and family systems

Pastoral counselors

Masters degree in divinity

Graduate training of 2 years plus 2 years post-degree supervision

Study of religious thought and spirituality

Clinical nurse specialist

Master’s degree in psychiatric nursing

Graduate training of 2 years

Study of nursing and mental health


Medical degree

Graduate medical training of 4 years plus 4 years residency

Study of medicine and human biology; pharmacology

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