What Does a Psychologist Do for Anxiety? An NYC Doctor Answers
1. What does a psychologist do for anxiety?
A psychologist is trained in providing a variety of methods to alleviate your anxiety. As a Manhattan psychologist who works with ambitious New Yorkers, I offer a multi-pronged approach to alleviating anxiousness. I help clients identify triggers, discover thought patterns that exacerbate anxiety, focus on here-and-now techniques to manage flareups and ultimately gain a toolbox of available techniques to apply to difficult moments. In my experience, the fast-paced life of New Yorkers leads them to have to constantly juggle multiple stressors at once, so anxiety is almost an inevitable part of the NY experience, but there is a tipping point beyond which the anxiety can take over your life. This is where therapy can be immensely helpful.
2. How do psychologists test for anxiety?
A psychologist typically assesses through detailed questioning about your current symptoms and history, including any traumatic life events that may have played a role in your anxiety. Some psychologists offer questionnaires and other formal assessment tools to better understand the nature of your anxiety.
As your psychologist I am better able to help you if I understand many of the details related to the present and the past, but I don’t dwell in the past. I am much more focused on the here and now. The beginning of therapy involves me asking you lots of questions, and then the nature of the conversation shifts into a more collaborative conversation.
3. What type of psychologist should I see for anxiety?
A clinical psychologist is well trained to offer you tools to manage your anxiety. Some clinical psychologists are trained in multiple methods of treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or psychoanalysis. Clinical psychologists receive a doctorate in psychology and train in a variety of contexts, including hospitals, clinics and schools. Counseling psychologists represent another option, but they are less common in New York City. Please note that other mental health professionals, such as clinical social workers and mental health counselors can be just as (if not more) effective as a clinical psychologist, but Doctors of Psychology generally receive more formal training on the path to their doctoral degree. Other mental health professionals typically subject themselves to other forms of training after they receive their degree. Please note that there are many exceptions to the comments I made in this paragraph.
I am a clinical psychologist who has trained in just about every type of clinical setting. New York City has offered me so many opportunities to train with such a variety of people from diverse backgrounds and professions. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions. I love to talk shop!
4. Can a psychologist help with anxiety?
A psychologist can help with anxiety, but there are a lot of factors involved in determining the extent to which therapy will help. I have found that the following factors play a role in determine success with anxiety treatment for New Yorkers:
a. Timing – Success in therapy is connected to how ready you are and open to subjecting yourself to the therapeutic process. Some clients are in a place in their lives where therapy truly fits in with their life situation. Other clients are initially resistant and fearful, but slowly evolve into a state of readiness to change.
b. The presence of a Medical Condition – Sometimes medical issues slow down progress in talk therapy. Medication might be needed, but that should be determined by a psychiatrist.
c. Your investment in valuing your mental health – In my experience as a New York City psychologist, my clients who allocate a good amount of time to caring for their mental health, even outside of therapy, tend to fare much better than clients who barely make time for therapy and other wellness activities. I respect the extremely busy schedule of ambitious New Yorkers, but to truly manage your anxiety more effectively, you need to allocate time and energy.
5. Is it better to see a therapist or a psychologist?
It really depends on the amount of training of the mental health professional. Many therapists who are not clinical psychologists have undergone more training than psychologists. Look into the breath of experience and areas of expertise of the therapist to determine what works for you. Psychologists are considered one type of therapist.
6. How do I choose a psychologist for anxiety?
In the age of the pandemic, it is even harder to find a therapist because so many people are seeking mental health care. Start with the listing sites on the web, including psychologytoday.com and good therapy.org. Cross reference your findings with the list of in-network psychologists listed on your insurance company’s website. It is a frustrating process for many people to find a therapist. Plan to reach out to 10-20 therapists to find one who is available.
Google each therapist to see if they have a website and more information about their expertise and areas of interest.
If you are able to go out of network to find a therapist in New York City, you can probably find a psychologist who has tons of expertise in exactly the issues that you want to focus on. I purposely created my therapy practice website to give potential clients a lot of information about my approach to therapy and my thoughts about many topics in mental health so that people can get a sense of what I am like even before meeting me. See here for a list of articles I’ve written and expert input I’ve offered.
7. What are 3 coping skills or strategies for anxiety?
a. One coping skill for managing anxiety is to identify your triggers. When you are very aware of the exact stressor, you can work with a clinical psychologist to develop tools to take action.
b. Another coping skill is to become very aware of bodily sensations associated with anxious states. How does anxiety show up in your body? It’s different in everyone. When you have a keen understand of your physical symptoms, you’re less likely to be surprised by the way your body responds in the future. The goal is to be able to say, “Oh, my heart is racing not because I’m having a catastrophic medical issue, but because my anxiety has been triggered.
c. Distraction is king. Redirecting your attention away from your anxiety may also work to reduce symptoms.
(Disclaimer: These strategies are for informational purposes only. Please consult a medical or mental health help if you are experiencing significant anxiety.)
8. How do you calm down/ reduce anxiety?
Anxiety is reduced by developing tools to make you feel more prepared for future episodes of anxiety. It all comes down to what you tell yourself, so self-talk is crucial.
9. What triggers anxiety?
Many things can trigger anxiety, including specific environments, painful thoughts, or in some cases, medical issues.
10. Is anxiety a form of mental illness?
It’s tricky to define what constitutes mental illness. Anxiety is a mental health condition. The word “illness” is less clear to define. The DSMV-TR generally defines mental illness as emotional distress that significantly interferes with one or many aspects of your life, including social, occupational, relationship or school functioning.
11. What is anxiety?
Think of anxiety as the anticipation that a catastrophe is going to occur. Anxiety is the interpretation of an impending threat of some variety. Your mind and body react to the conscious or unconscious message that you won’t be able to handle the threat.
How to Find the Best Psychologist in NYC for Your Mental Health Needs
Finding the best NYC psychologist for your needs can feel like an impossible task. I’ve put together a list of some great strategies for finding a therapist. So many current and prospective patients have shared with me how daunting it feels to find a psychotherapist in New York area. I hope this guide will make your search easier.
Tips for Your NYC Clinical Psychologist Search
1. Cross reference your findings from therapist listings with Google searches.
Don’t stop at the information offered on New York therapist listing sites such a Psychology Today. Find a therapist by going a step further to learn what potential mental health clinicians are really about. Has the psychologist written anything of interest or reported on the latest research? Do they seem modern, worldly and knowledgeable based on their online presence? Do they have impressive reviews on Google? What about their website? Do they talk in a relatable way or do they sound cliche?
2. Pay attention to your first reaction to the picture of the therapist’s face.
There’s so much valuable information in your gut reaction to how he or she looks. Does his or her face make you feel at ease or stressed out. Is it a face you can trust?
3. Ask your friends if they had a psychologist they enjoyed working with.
A referral from a trusted friend is gold. Don’t be afraid to share your need for mental health therapy. Getting the help you need is a sign of strength. Friends who will judge you for needing therapy may not have your best interests at heart and are probably not very evolved.
4. Interview 2–3 prospective clinical psychologists unless you’ve found your match with the first one.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions about what matters to you. Call or email the therapist and ask away. If they don’t make time to answer your questions, then stay away.
5. Seek to understand the psychotherapist’s theoretical orientation/ their approach to therapy to see if it matches the style of therapy you’re looking for.
This one also requires a call or email. Ask them to explain how they conduct therapy and what guides their approach. If they can’t answer clearly, don’t choose them. Do you want a more collaborative CBT experience? Structured? Traditional/psychoanalytic? Existential? Don’t be afraid to ask.
6. Speaking of the phone call, see how you reach to the therapist’s voice.
Does his or her voice soothe you? Is it harsh? That voice has to calm you, but also potentially motivate you.
7. Do some research on the different types of mental health clinicians in New York City.
Are you looking for a psychologist (who is likely to have more formal schooling/training on diagnosis and treatment), a clinical social worker (who could potentially have even more extended training than a psychologist, but you have to ask or google), a marriage and family therapist (who specializes in couples therapy but can still be an amazing individual therapist), a mental health counselor, etc?
8. Many New York City psychotherapists specialize in something or have developed a special skill based on the types of clients they attract.
Most NYC therapists list anxiety, depression and relationships as their specialty. That doesn’t tell you much. Ask your prospective New York psychologist with whom do they work best work? Patients with anxiety? Addiction? For example, I don’t have a specialty per se, but my practice has attracted clients grappling with certain problems, such as panic attacks, social anxiety and work stress, which has prompted me to develop my skills further to give them a great healing experience.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about this article or if something is unclear. I love what I do and I want you to find the help you need.
I have created other articles on the topic of finding a NYC psychologist if you want to read more. Please take a look at some of my other psychology articles on HuffPost to learn more about my philosophy.Learn More
Therapy for Bipolar Disorder
I offer CBT therapy for Bipolar Disorder in my New York City office (virtual and in person). I have extensive experience helping clients with Bipolar Disorder to balance their mental health needs with the demands of a busy lifestyle. Treatment for Bipolar Affective Disorder requires a skilled therapist who can adjust therapy sessions based on the varying needs of the client from week to week.
The CBT therapy I offer is catered to the needs of people with a variety of mood disorders, including Bipolar I Disorder, Bipolar II Disorder, Cyclothymic Disorder, Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder.
In order to better manage mood fluctuations, I focus on the following general therapeutic goals with my clients:
(1) To develop greater mood stability and a range of options for reacting to stressors.
Clients learn stress management techniques and develop a deeper awareness of personal triggers and the behavioral and cognitive options available to them.
(2) To “get out in front of changes in mood” by actively monitoring mood fluctuations and learning how to adjust effectively.
I work with my clients to gain increased awareness of subtle or clear changes in their mood. Together we manage depressive, hypomanic or manic episodes.
A more expanded version of my focus now follows…..
Five Ways Psychotherapy Will Help with Bipolar Symptoms
I help clients to create a toolbox of coping mechanisms for managing their Bipolar diagnosis.
My clients who find success in therapy with managing symptoms of Bipolar Affective Disorder usually attend weekly therapy sessions and are often, but not always, on medication. Here are five main areas of focus that I help clients with various manifestations of Bipolar Disorder to improve.
1. The primary way to manage manic, hypomanic and depressive symptoms associated with Bipolar Disorder is to get in front of your symptoms.
This involves helping you to have the perspective to understand when you need to make changes to either fend off or accommodate fluctuations in your mood. Very often, this involves changing your routines, enlisting the support of others and processing painful thoughts and feelings successfully. Managing sleep is usually a part of this therapeutic goal of getting in front of symptoms of Bipolar Disorder. This is where I excel as a clinical psychologist. Clients have reported positive effects of this therapeutic goal.
2. Therapy for Bipolar Disorder involves deepening your understanding between thoughts, feelings and behaviors, as well as altering belief systems and irrational ideas that control personal choices and the interpretation of events.
This Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approach enhances your ability to step back and better frame decisions made by you and the people in your life.
3. Stress management is a huge part of managing Bipolar Disorder and related conditions.
It appears that episodes of mania, hypomania and depression are often triggered by reactions to stress. I am careful here with my words. It’s not stress itself, but your reaction to stress. I help New Yorkers by teaching them stress management techniques.
4. Successful therapy for Bipolar Disorder includes helping you to establish a social rhythm.
That is, we will organize your relationships and daily routines so that you feel more personal predictability and a greater sense of control. We will analyze your interpersonal relations to gain greater perspective and behavioral options for managing the interface between your social, work, family and romantic relationships and fluctuations in your mood.
5. Compliance with therapy and the cadence established translates into success in managing stress and Bipolar symptoms.
In addition to a strong therapeutic bond with your psychologist, the greatest predictor of therapeutic success with managing Bipolar Affective Disorder is compliance with treatment.
More on Compliance with Therapy and Routines
A commitment to treatment is extremely important for people with certain manifestations of Bipolar Disorder.
Given that changes in mood heavily influence behavior and choices, compliance with both psychotherapy sessions and daily routines is directly connected to success with managing symptoms of Bipolar Affective Disorder. Of course, this does not apply to everyone, but when someone experiences a significantly depressed mood and feels like withdrawing into an idle state, there might be less motivation to attend a therapy session. Similarly, when manic or hypomanic symptoms are present, or when there is strong relief from a high or low, it might feel like there is no need for therapy. This problem with noncompliance in psychotherapy can sabotage progress.
I believe my success in treating people with Bipolar Disorder starts with the strong therapeutic relationship that I build with my clients. Having an experienced psychologist in your corner who serves as a collaborator, an ally, a coach, an analyst and a motivator can lend itself to a powerful therapeutic experience.
My patients tend to report a positive impact from the work we do, and the rhythm of the therapy really matters.
Bipolar Disorder and the Fast-Paced New York City Lifestyle
I am keenly aware that many New Yorkers are highly ambitious and intelligent. They also tend to be over-scheduled and live in extremes.
It is certainly not easy to manage disruptive mood fluctuations AND juggle a demanding job, relationship obligations, a busy family life and/or a commitment to your passions and hobbies. CBT therapy will help you to find as much balance as is possible given all of your obligations. When you’re in the throes of a depressive, manic or hypomanic episode, something has to temporarily give.
As a psychologist in New York City for over 20 years, I am an expert at helping clients manage the derailment of obligations and relationships caused by Bipolar symptoms.
Psychotherapy is a space to process your wishes, dreams, obligations, stress and fears…and their intersection with mood fluctuations.
Bipolar Disorder and the Presence of Other Emotional Challenges
CBT Therapy for Bipolar symptoms also takes into account the presence of other influences on your mind and body. Some people with intense or moderate mood fluctuations are also grappling with addiction, obsessive thoughts, panic attacks, anxiety, Attention Deficit Disorder (Adult ADD) and other psychological challenges.
Psychotherapy takes into account all of these factors. I have helped hundreds of clients in my private practice with various forms of Bipolar Disorder over the past 17+ years and in hospitals and clinics before my practice.
I would be happy to help you if you’re ready for the commitment. Please feel free to reach out with any questions ([email protected]).
All the best!
Dr. KLearn More
Why a New York City Psychologist Has the Best Job in the World
(As seen on Huff Post)
If you’re considering a career as a psychologist AND you plan to practice in New York City, you’re in luck.
Serving the mental health needs of New Yorkers as a psychologist in private practice is more than just great…it’s the most rewarding career path available. Of course, I’m just a tiny bit biased, but I stand by my assertion and you’ll learn why I feel so strongly about it.
Keep in mind that I’m generally referring to what it’s like to be a New York City psychologist in private practice as opposed to working in a hospital, school or clinic setting. You can also have a rewarding career as a psychologist outside of the private practice setting, but running your own show takes the experience a hundred levels higher. And even if you want to be in private practice, you almost always have to train and work in other settings before you can practice independently
All I will say to qualify my bold statement is that a career as a psychologist can only be so profoundly amazing if the following are true:
- You can handle the uncertainty of lacking a regular, predictable paycheck.
- You don’t worship money.
- You have exceptional listening skills, you tend to root for the underdog, you have the humility to take responsibility for your actions in interpersonal conflict and you don’t unravel when you hear about extreme mental suffering.
Yes, this is a gross oversimplification of what makes a solid psychologist, but it will have to do for now.
The Life of the NYC Psychologist
- First and foremost, you get to meet the most intelligent, dynamic and talented group of people in the world. Can you imagine how enjoyable it would be to spend your day enhancing the lives of the movers and shakers of the world? It’s wildly exciting to help younger generations who have the drive, talent, creativity and mental ability to change the world. A typical day may involve working with an ambitious student, then a programmer, then a talented finance or professional, then an entertainer, then a C-suite executive. It’s amazing! I learn as much from my patients as they do from me.
- You learn how to mix art with science to enhance the lives of people who are the world’s best artists and scientists. The best therapy is one that mixes objectively proven techniques with artful, interpersonal maneuvers. Psychologists, especially skilled ones, take mental health care to the next level by offering much than what a book or manual can teach. They mix art into their approach, which adds an intangible element that promotes personal transformation.
- You feel like you’re making a difference in the world on a daily basis. Since New York attracts such a unique type of individual, it can feel like you’re having a profound effect on society by improving the lives of people who make things happen for the world. As your skillset grows, so will your ability to create significant changes for your patients, which in turn, will make them more effective in their influence on the world.
- You become an expert in New York City culture without trying. Imagine being constantly taught about the subtleties of city life, the latest trends, memes, metaphors, fashion, art and everything that makes NYC so unique. It gives you the sense that you have your finger on the pulse of the Center of the Universe, the world’s largest think tank. Clients will incorporate their vast array of cultural opportunities into their therapy. For example, you will get to talk with clients about Hamilton after they see the show, or an art installation, gala or tech convention.
- Investing in self-improvement becomes a thunderclap of wellness that spreads across the city. If you read about an interesting concept, you’re suddenly equipped with a powerful metaphor to use with certain clients. Take on the task of reading a self-help book or attending a seminar and your clients will indirectly benefit from what you personally reap.
- You make your own hours which gives you a invigorating sense of freedom.While everyone else is counting vacation days, imprisoned within a cube city and reporting to a boss, you get to do whatever you feel like. Even with a full roster of patients, there’s still tons of time to play in the city. This can be problematic if you’re undisciplined or you crave the structure offered by a regular paycheck. To be honest, I would give up the predictability of a regular paycheck in a heartbeat for the freedom to walk outside on a two-hour break between sessions to sit in a wonderful coffee shop and write a blog post, take an hour-long stroll and soak in the city’s spirit and beauty, schmooze with New Yorkers or casually browse through a magic shop or a used book store.
- You’re exposed to the most diverse group of people and ideas on the planet. In a single day, you might work with people from six different countries, or help someone manage the stress of the inner city right after assisting someone with managing the stress of running a large company. You get to talk with people with high aspirations, people from backgrounds unlike your own who care about the world and want to make it a better place.
11 Things You Need to Know About Starting Therapy in NYC
The decision to start therapy in New York City can be scary as hell.
After all, it’s hard to know what to expect before you actually begin your sessions.
I’m going to take some of the confusion out of the decision-making process. I’m also going to give you an idea about what to expect in the first session, even though the way the start of therapy is structured varies from therapist to therapist.
The insights shared below are based on my experiences as a Manhattan psychologist who has worked with thousands of New Yorkers.
My ultimate goal is to make you feel less anxiety about the decision to begin therapy and more primed for success with the process.
A quick note…If you’re reading this as you prepare to start therapy under my care, please feel free to ask me any questions about what I’ve written below. I want you to get the most out of the first session and beyond.
Preparing for the First Therapy Session
So here it goes, 11 thoughts about starting therapy in NYC that you need to know.
1. Once you sit down on the couch and start talking, it will be the greatest relief you’ve felt in a long time, nothing like the anxiety you experienced around the decision to enter therapy.
Most people feel immense relief after the first session at least partially because they experience a release of a buildup of emotion they’ve been holding on to for days, weeks or months. This benefit is wonderful, but the most impressive emotional gains are made once you roll your sleeves up and get deeper into the intervention.
2. It can be helpful to write down what you’ve been struggling with before you begin the first session.
Taking a few notes ahead of the initial appointment is by no means necessary, but very often people have a hard time articulating what they want to work on. Writing is a great way to organize your thoughts heading into therapy.
3. Most, but not all, therapists will ask you in the first session what you hope to accomplish in therapy.
4. The blistering pace of modern life makes therapy a necessity.
If you’re living in a bustling city, therapy is the ultimate place to combat the stress and pressure you feel on a daily basis as a result of the lifestyle you’ve signed up for. We are evolving as a culture to fill up every potential moment for self-reflection with our screens. Therapy offers an opportunity to check in with yourself and a good look at what needs to be worked on.
5. Insight alone rarely produces significant improvement.
Your willingness to test reality and make cognitive and behavioral changes is the real spark. Amazing insights gained through therapy can be mind openers, but not game changers. Therapy that relies on insight as the dominant force of transformation takes much longer to produce substantial changes. In my experience, therapy designed to create new insights, which is fortified by active interventions, such as disputing irrational beliefs, is much, much more effective. This is why I’m big on CBT therapy. As a cognitive behavioral therapist in New York City, I strive to offer tools for clients, in addition to insight. Tools + insight = better outcomes.
6. Some people are raised to view therapy as unnecessary or hocus pocus. Your therapist will probably prove them wrong.
From the outside looking in, it’s hard to see the potential benefits of therapy. The nature of emotional suffering is such that it can be hard to imagine feeling substantially better just by talking to a therapist. Most therapists do more than just talk to you. They are trained in applying specific interventions to alleviate suffering and they know how to build a strong therapeutic relationship that will predict a positive outcome for you.
7. If you’re therapist considers himself or herself a psychoanalyst, expect to do most of the talking. If the therapist identifies with CBT as the primary mode of therapy, expect him or her to be more active in the process.
The truth is that most therapists do not take a single approach to conducting therapy. Feel free to ask your therapist-to-be how active he or she is in the sessions so there are no surprises. With that said, like most therapists in New York City, I tend to do much less talking in the first session because I’m asking questions and planning my intervention. Therefore, it’s hard to use the therapist’s engagement level in the first session to determine how collaborative the therapy will be.
8. Don’t expect your therapist to force things out of you.
Therapy tends to go at a pace set by the patient. Your therapist is likely to be sensitive to your signals that certain topics are off limits until you’re ready to go there. Just know that a seasoned therapist will pick up on what is omitted from your story. You don’t have to do anything about that.
9. The trend among newer generations of therapists is to act more “real” with patients.
Unless you’re in the market for 3-times-a-week, lying-on-the-couch psychoanalysis, you can safely assume that your psychologist won’t present as a tabula rasa, the latin phrase for “blank slate.” In other words, he won’t strive to remain 100% nonreactive, cold and neutral. In my experience, most patients appreciate realness from a therapist, which doesn’t mean that he will be constantly sharing about his own personal experiences. Rather, it means that his reactions will seem genuine and empathic. Another wonderful consequence of your therapist being real with you is that it can feel like you have a coach in your corner, which most patients enjoy.
10. Therapy is not as helpful if you don’t a bit of take time between sessions to reflect on what was discussed in session.
If you want to get the most out of your sessions, consider actively applying what you’ve learned in sessions to your life. Feel free to challenge your therapist to help you plan for testing in real life any lessons learned during sessions.
11. Therapy will be helpful to the extent that you’re open to change and willing to look at your contributions to your own suffering.
This is a tough one to really, truly understand for most people. Success in therapy involves a willingness to examine some of your most uncomfortable thoughts, feelings and experiences. If someone is pushing you into therapy kicking and screaming, then chances are it’s not going to be very effective. You need to want to make changes irrespective of what someone who cares about says you should do. If you tend to blame other people for your problems, you’ll be limited in how much you’ll get out of your sessions. That doesn’t mean that a little parent blaming here and there doesn’t feel super relieving. It just means that entering therapy with a sense of personal responsibility will predict success with the process.
Good luck with your therapy.
What Exactly Does a Clinical Psychologist Do?
Find out exactly what a clinical psychologist does. Here are some commonly asked questions regarding the role of a clinical psychologist in New York City.
What is the role of a clinical psychologist?
A clinical psychologist works with people to improve their social, emotional, mental and behavioral problems. First, a clinical psychologist conducts an assessment of the problem to arrive at a diagnosis via interviews, observation and sometimes psychological testing. Next, they create a treatment plan with the client and help them to identify goals that the client wants to work on. Then, the clinical psychologist carries out psychological treatment to help the client achieve the goals. Progress is monitored over the course of treatment.
I have been conducting psychotherapy in New York City for over 20 years. One benefit of being a clinical psychologist, as opposed to other types of therapists in NYC, is that my clinical doctoral training in assessment and diagnosis tends to be more extensive than what is offered in most other mental health degree programs.
Some clinical psychologists do research, teach or consult for organizations/businesses to solve systemic and individual issues.
Is the job of a clinical psychologist in New York City different than that in other places?
The role of clinical psychologists in New York City is generally the same as that in other parts of the country. However, there are a few subtle but important differences when compared to clinical psychologists in New York State or other places.
First, in NYC clinical psychologists tend to be more trained in working with people from diverse backgrounds. The amazing diversity of NYC’s population necessitates that New York City clinical psychologists have an added sensitivity to people with alternative lifestyles and varied backgrounds.
Second, the fast-paced speed of everyday life, the noise, the lack of space and the general pressure to achieve success makes New York City a challenging place to live. As a Manhattan clinical psychologist, I am frequently helping people manage their career achievement needs and the stress generated from wanting to “make it big” here in New York. As a result, I have the honor of working with some incredibly ambitious people who are changing the world.
Third, it is my belief that a New York City clinical psychologist also helps people cope with the lack of a sense of community in the city. Other parts of the country have more of a community feel. The absence of community creates the potential for feeling a sense of emptiness, isolation and loneliness, especially when you are new to NYC. A clinical psychologist in New York City who has been in practice for a long time must know how to help patients cope with this kind of challenge.
Please note that other kinds of NYC psychotherapists with lots of clinical experience also learn to help people manage the unique combination of isolation and pressure found in New York City.
What is the Difference Between a Therapist and a Psychologist?
A therapist is a generic term for any mental health clinician who meets face-to-face (or online) with patients to alleviate their emotional suffering. Be careful though. There are also many types of therapists that are not associated with mental health, such as a physical therapist, speech therapist and occupational therapist.
A psychologist is a type of therapist, one with the most rigorous training out of all the types of mental health therapists. Psychologists tend to have more years of clinical training and more hours of supervision and clinical experience even before they graduate from their program.
How long does it take to become a clinical psychologist?
In order to become a clinical psychologist, you need to complete your Bachelor’s Degree first. Some clinical psychologist also complete a two-year Master’s Program in Counseling or a related mental health field before their clinical psychology doctoral program. However, clinical psychology doctoral program students are awarded a Master’s Degree after two years and them they continue on for their doctorate.
Overall, a doctorate in clinical psychology can take between 4-7 years, sometimes even longer. There are three years of graduate classes during which doctoral students are completing supervised clinical training (aka externships) in various mental health settings, such as a hospital, clinic or school counseling center. Once the coursework is complete, the doctoral student has to complete a one-year internship in an accredited mental health setting. After the internship the doctorate is awarded. Then the new psychologist must complete about 2000 hours of post-graduate training before receiving a license in a particular state. Please note that the information provided here varies greatly across states in the US. Please see here for more on the topic.
What is the difference between a psychologist and a clinical psychologist?
A psychologist is a general term for a professional who went to a doctoral program in psychology. A clinical psychologist is an expert in the human mind that attended an accredited doctoral program in clinical psychology. Clinical psychologists also work directly with human subjects. In other words, clinical psychologists work with clients. Other non-clinical psychologists may draw from the same knowledge based but they do not necessarily work directly with clients.
There are other types of psychologists, including industrial psychologists, social psychologists, forensic psychologists and sports psychologists.
Do you need a doctorate to be a clinical psychologist?
Yes, you need a doctoral degree to be a clinical psychologist. You can get a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree or a Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (PhD) degree in order to be a psychologist.
In some mental health settings, I have seen people loosely use the word “psychologist” to refer to the mental health clinician on staff regardless of their degree, but the true definition of the role implies earning a doctorate in psychology.
What is a PsyD ?
A PsyD or Psy.D. represents a “doctor of psychology,” which is a practitioner’s degree in clinical, counseling or school psychology). In contrast to a PhD, the training you receive at a PsyD program tends to involve more clinical training and more hours of supervised face-to-face interaction with patients. There are probably exceptions. Phd programs in clinical psychology tend to have more of a research focus. While a lot more PhDs are hired for teaching roles, PsyDs are hired as well in universities.
In my PsyD program I received extensive training in clinical psychology, conducted hundreds of hours of supervised psychotherapy AND I wrote a PhD-level dissertation. It was not my original intention to create such a mammoth dissertation, and you generally do not have to write a huge dissertation in a PsyD program. It can be a more contained project.
Is a clinical psychologist a doctor?
Yes, a clinical psychologist is considered a doctor of psychology (not to be confused with an MD, or medical doctor.
What is the difference between a clinical psychologist, a clinical social worker, a mental health counselor and a marriage and family therapist?
A clinical social worker (LCSW) helps people to cope with emotional, behavioral and mental issues, but the training does not include as much emphasis on assessment and diagnosis as compared to a clinical psychology doctoral program. Many LCSWs take their education a step further by attending extensive training programs in specific areas following the completion of their clinical hours for licensure. Social workers receive impressive training in understanding and navigating through various systems that interact with the individual. See here for more on this degree.
A mental health counselor is a Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. See here for more on this degree.
A marriage and family therapist (LMFT) is a specialized degree that focuses primarily on marital and family counseling. There is also training in individual therapy. See here for more on this degree.
What is the difference between clinical psychologists and psychiatrists in New York State?
A clinical psychologist is a PhD or PsyD helps alleviate emotional suffering via various forms of talk therapy.
A psychiatrist is a Medical Doctor (M.D.) who went on to specialize in psychiatry. Psychiatrists tend to work with people who are grappling with more serious forms of emotional suffering, but not always. Some psychiatrists also conduct psychotherapy. They tend to lean toward medication as the solution for emotional problems.
Clinical psychologists in New York State are not permitted to prescribe medication. Nor do they do not receive any formal training in prescribing medication.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions about the field of clinical psychology or to get started in therapy.Learn More
A New York Psychologist Shares 18 Ways to Overcome Mask Anxiety
During this unique time we’ve had to adjust to life behind a face mask. The world outside your window has changed, which necessitates a shift in the way you protect our physical and mental health.
While casual use of a mask in open spaces is generally easier to manage, many of us are experiencing uncomfortable levels of anxiety, even panic, while wearing a mask around others, especially as we transition toward slightly increased exposure to more people and places.
Uncertain times like these demand increased confidence in our physical and psychological protection as we encounter real or imagined danger. Below you’ll find 18 great tips for overcoming mask anxiety.
18 Ways to Reduce Mask Anxiety
1. Take your self-talk to the next level.
Remind yourself 20 times during each outdoor journey that you’re going to be ok. Literally, say to yourself. “No matter what happens, I’m going to be ok.” This self-talk may boost your immune system by giving you an enhanced sense of control during this strange time.
2. Wear your mask at home for short periods of time.
Let the mask feel like it can be a part of you. Dance with your mask. Listen to music. Take selfies. Do whatever makes the mask feel like your mask is a part of you.
3. Remind yourself of your free will to choose.
If your anxiety spikes during a mask-wearing outing, keep telling yourself different choices you’re making in real time. Say, “I choose to…” For example, if you’re about to turn right on as you approach a perpendicular street, tell yourself, “I choose to turn right.” Repeat this for the smallest of choices. Consciously exercising your free will to make choices reduces a perception of powerlessness and increases a sense of personal agency.
4. Strive to better understand your triggers.
Pay attention to the situations that trigger your anxiety. Keep a log of each bout of mask anxiety. A note on your phone will suffice. For each occurrence, write down where it occurred, what you were thinking at the time, rate your anxiety from 1-10 and remind yourself of what you did to calm down. Read over your notes. Talk through your triggers with trusted loved ones and a mental health professional.
5. Practice breathing techniques with and without your mask on.
The more you practice bringing your breathing under control, the easier it will be to self-soothe when you’re feeling anxious with a mask on. Do relaxation exercises at home with your mask on. Here’s an example of a anxiety-reducing relaxation exercise you can try.
6. Practice visualization exercises to simulate wearing a mask in real life.
Picture yourself wearing a mask in different environments that represent varying levels of stress. Begin with the least stressful environment you can imagine encountering and rehearse relaxation exercises to calm your breath. See yourself as relaxed in your mind’s eye. Then move on to visualize more stressful places where a mask may be a challenge.
7. Give your mask a name.
Build a nice relationship with your mask by naming it. Talk to it. Reason with it. Laugh at it and with it. Relate to it as a friend. “Buddy, I gotta loosen you. You’re too uptight.”
8. Consciously send healing vibes to people you see.
Focus your thoughts on how your mask is protecting the people around you. Wish each person well as they pass you by. Transmit thoughts of love and healing. We’re all struggling these days. Bringing your attention to other people’s well-being can get you outside of your own anxiety. Tell them in your mind that you’re protecting them. The world desperately needs your good vibes and sense of social responsibility to heal.
9. Think of the children.
Remind yourself of the children you’re potentially saving by wearing a mask. Imagine kids thanking you in their cute little voices. Step outside of your suffering by picturing their smiles of gratitude. You’re making a sacrifice by being so uncomfortable.
10. Embrace the anonymity.
Your mask offers you a level of public anonymity that you’ve probably never experienced before. A teenager told me he likes to think of himself as a ninja when he wears his mask. Find a fascinating angle on mask anonymity. Embrace temporary hiding out. Enlist your imagination.
11. Get angry at your anxiety.
This is not my first choice compared to the other anxiety reduction techniques, but some people find it effective. Anger is the flip side of anxiety. You can’t feel both at the same time. Focus on how annoying your anxiety can be. Talk back to your anxiety. Yell at it in your mind. Tell it that it can’t control you.
12. Try name calling. That is, give your anxiety a name.
Naming your anxiety reminds you that anxiety is not all of you: rather, it’s a part of you. This anxiety reduction technique represents another way to increase your sense of control in the face of uncertainty, similar to my recommendation to get angry about your anxiety. Call your anxiety a person’s name and let it know how you feel. There’s something comical in this, but it can work if you buy into this technique. “Herbert, you suck! Go away!”
13. Find the humor in your situation.
I know that there’s nothing funny about all of the tragedy that the Covid-19 virus has inflicted on the world, but for survival’s sake, look for what funny about a given situation. Laughter can be neutralizer of mask anxiety. I think about the inevitably awkward moments that this pandemic has created. How would Larry David respond to a scenario you find yourself in? George Costanza? Kramer? The Modern Family characters? What about your favorite comedic characters?
14. Wear a funny, protective mask.
There are plenty of masks for sale with slogans that will give you and strangers a good chuckle. Knowing that you’re delivering humor to the world may help you feel less anxious with your mask on.
15. Make your mask a fashion statement.
If a humorous mask isn’t your thing, then can you make it about fashion? A few masks that match your clothing can go a long way. I wouldn’t make this recommendation if we weren’t in the midst of a global pandemic, but a little style can go a long way for easing your mask anxiety.
16. Online therapy = an anxiety game changer.
Seeking out an online therapist in a global pandemic is a sign of massive strength. Work on lowering your anxiety from the comfort of your own home with an online therapist. This experience can improve more than mask anxiety. Online therapy for anxiety with the right mental health professional can give you the perspective you need to understand and control your triggers, as well as the less obvious influences on your anxiety.
17. Imagine a light around you that protects you.
Imagine a blue light protecting you from all danger. Focus your energy on this force field. Picture a round aura protecting you. Send love to it. Repeat to yourself in a loving and confident voice, “I am protected.” This exercise is no joke. Creating a reminder of your safety can reduce your anxiety.
18. Start a creative, mask-related phone or video project.
Talk to yourself on camera about what you’re going through. Document this time in your life so that future generations can see what you endured. Share your wisdom from lessons learned. Creative projects lower anxiety.Learn More
Online Therapy with an Experienced Cognitive Behavioral (CBT) Psychologist
There are many great benefits of Telehealth, but it’s important to choose the right CBT psychologist for online therapy. The key to caring for your mental health via a video screen is to choose a therapist who has the experience to create a similar therapeutic benefit online as you would receive in person.
This is not an easy accomplishment. It takes the right therapist to build a strong therapeutic relationship via online therapy. People underestimate this skill’s importance in creating change.
I have sincerely enjoyed providing telehealth services to clients as we all adjust to life under quarantined conditions.
The Benefits of Telehealth Services
The Covid-19 pandemic has created unique challenges for everyone. I am currently working with clients to reduce coronavirus anxiety, improve relationships and marriages, process depression, grief and loss, manage new rules and conditions created by confined conditions, develop new habits, explore career changes, eliminate panic attacks, improve sleep and many more challenges.
Online therapy can be a powerful experience, especially when the timing is just right. That is, you’re ready to make changes.
Why Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Online?
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy online will give you practical tools to get through the quarantine and beyond. I offer Enhanced CBT to my clients, which is a unique version of online therapy involving altering unhealthy patterns of thinking and behavior, enhancing mindfulness skills and preparing you with concrete strategies to use in the face of emotional challenges.
CBT is more suitable for online therapy than many other forms of therapy because it is collaborative, practical and directly applicable. While other psychologists may focus on overanalyzing your past and the therapeutic relationship, I am in the present with you as a collaborator for personal change.
The Quarantine as an Opportunity to Care for Your Mental Health on a New Level
Given how life has temporarily changed for all of us, the quarantine represents a unique time to create new habits and patterns of thinking. I can help you to jumpstart a mental health initiative. Many things are hard to start under quarantine. Most of us have found that our expectations for personal change have been met with disappointment during the coronavirus pandemic. It’s very hard to cope, let alone make dramatic changes. Many people report feeling shame and self-critical thinking given how hard it is to begin a new habit while under quarantine.
This is where therapy online can help. We can work together to clear obstacles preventing you from beginning new personal initiatives. We can help you to reduce anxiety, stress, shame and more.
Please reach out if you have any questions.
Stay safe and healthy!
Dr. KLearn More
Recent Media Contributions
Dr. Greg Kushnick, A Top Mental Health Expert in New York City
Here are some of my most recent media mentions and contributions:
- A New York Times article on depression and Covid-19 in New York City.
- A Fortune Magazine piece on 311 calls, Covid-19 and social distancing complaints in New York City.
- An appearance in a new Amazon Prime documentary on the challenges of being a social media influencer.
For the full list of media contributions, click here.Learn More