Many psychologists and mental health counselors would argue that the only way they can diagnose you is to have a conversation with you, in person. Others feel you have to undergo some kind of testing to determine what disorder you are suffering from. This can range from a simple personality test to a series of tests and interviews. Psychologists call this process of diagnosis a “behavioral response.”
There is some debate over whether or not doctors can say with certainty that a patient has a particular psychological disorder, such as bipolar or post traumatic stress disorder. Some believe that the answer is yes, whereas others think it is no. Nevertheless, there are many who agree that it is possible to determine a mental health disorder based on behaviour, attitudes and interaction with other people. The challenge for the psychologist, therefore, is to use scientific methodologies to evaluate such behaviours and reactions. If a psychologist wants to be considered an expert in his or her field, they need to meet the standards set by other scientists and prove their expertise through replication studies, published research and case studies.
Although most psychologists carry out research involving human participants, a small minority actually practice clinical psychology in a hospital setting or with the help of other trained psychologists. These so called labor statistics refer to the number of psychologists that work in a typical health care setting. As you can see, there is a huge difference between labor statistics and the diagnostic process undertaken by most psychologists.
Labor Statistics refers to the number of hours that therapists actually work in their professional career. The number is not included in most therapist contracts or handbooks because it is difficult to determine exactly how many hours are spent per session due to different factors such as whether the session is one-on-one or group therapy. Furthermore, some therapists prefer not to work on the same patients day after day due to individual therapy or scheduling conflicts.
Professional Practice refers to the rules that therapists follow within their professional practice. Professional psychologists adhere to a code of ethics and many times these ethical codes form the basis for the treatment protocol that is used. Many times these protocols are reviewed by boards of directors before they are used in a particular psychologist’s treatment of a client. In essence, these protocols ensure that the treatment is based on sound psychological principles.
So how do therapists diagnose you? Based on the questions that they ask you during your initial evaluation they are able to determine if you have Bipolar or manic Depression. If you have both these disorders they can then ask you specific questions concerning each one to find the best treatment plan for you. At times it may be necessary for them to refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist who specializes in the treatment of people who have these disorders.
As you can see, the process of diagnosing is much more involved than simply asking a psychologist or mental health professional how you feel. If a mental health professional makes the diagnosis without having all of the information that you may need then they are not doing their job. Many times these professionals will acquire the information that you need from your family or from another source. If you are diagnosed with either Bipolar or Manic Depression your therapist will most likely acquire the information from a psychiatrist who specializes in these disorders.
So now that we know how do therapists diagnose you? We still have one more question. Why would a psychologist do this? There are several reasons why a psychologist would conduct a thorough assessment on a potential patient. Sometimes these assessments will include a physical examination and testing as well as interviews to determine if there are any past issues that may lead to your mental health problems. Now that we have answered the question “how do therapists diagnose you?” You may want to consider learning more about the mental health field of psychotherapy and/or counseling.