Wellstar Clinical Psychology
Clinical psychology works to identify emotional, mental and behavioral problems. Through observation, interviews and tests, these mental health experts diagnose and treat issues through counseling or therapy.
Clinical Psychology at Wellstar
Psychology is the science that seeks to understand, explain, and when necessary, change human behavior. Behavior is influenced by thoughts, needs, values, motivations, emotions, and even physiology. Clinical psychology is the synthesis of the science of psychology with clinical practice and experience. Clinical psychologists understand and treat psychological problems, and promote personal adjustment and development.
While there are many clinicians who provide services akin to those offered by clinical psychologists (licensed professional counselors, licensed clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, etc.), psychologists are unique in their depth of training, breadth of practice, and immersion in the scientific principles that influence human behavior. Clinical psychologists have obtained a doctorate degree in psychology from a program and institution accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). In addition to completing rigorous academic requirements, clinical psychologists complete a one-year residency (or internship), a minimum of one year of post-doctoral clinical training, and have passed a national board examination. In some states, such as Georgia, psychologists must also pass state jurisprudence and oral examinations.
In the United States, psychology is distinguished from psychiatry in that (except in Louisiana and New Mexico) psychologists do not prescribe medications, but instead employ psychotherapy, biofeedback, and other behaviorally—and insight-oriented treatments to elicit change in their patients. Furthermore, whereas pharmacological management is, for the most part, unique to psychiatry, psychologists are trained to offer psychological testing to understand and treat problems. Psychologists and psychiatrists have similar levels of education, but under-different schools of training: while psychiatrists are medical doctors (MD), clinical psychologists obtain training via doctorate of philosophy (PhD) or doctorate of psychology (PsyD) programs. In many cases, psychologists collaborate with psychiatrists and other medical doctors and health professionals to provide the best possible integrated care.
Clinical psychologists evaluate, diagnose, treat, and prevent psychological disorders and other individual and group problems. The overarching goal is to improve individuals' adjustment, adaptation, sense of personal effectiveness, and quality of life. Clinical psychologists are distinguished by the diversity of problems they address and the populations they are equipped to serve. They can help prevent and resolve individual differences, abnormal behaviors, and mental disorders, and provide lifestyle enhancement to individual patients of all ages, as well as to groups, like families, athletic teams, individuals experiencing problems in the workplace, or to a larger community.
Privacy and Disclosure
Undergoing treatment with a clinical psychologist often entails discussion, revelation and discovery of extremely personal and intimate experiences, histories, feelings, and tendencies. A primary duty of any mental health professional is to keep this information strictly private, except in very unusual situations. In keeping with the standards of the profession, Wellstar's psychologists follow the American Psychological Association's Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, as well as the laws and rules governing the practice of psychology in Georgia.
To ensure that you are informed about the various services Wellstar Psychological Services provides, we offer the links below, which should help to clarify any questions you might have about confidentiality, patient rights, and other important issues.
Clinical Psychology Procedures
Your first interaction with your Wellstar psychologist will generally entail an initial 50-minute diagnostic evaluation. This appointment will include a comprehensive interview about your physical health, as well as your cognitive, emotional, behavioral, and personality functioning. This assessment will help your psychologist understand you better, will help to clarify your treatment and evaluation needs, and may reveal the causes and contributors to the problems for which you are seeking help.
In addition to the clinical interview, initial diagnostic assessment procedures may include:
- Tests and questionnaires, administered either by your psychologist or a psychometrist or doctoral student working under the supervision of your psychologist.
- Collection of information from medical, academic, and/or legal records, as appropriate.
- Interviews with family members, other associates, and healthcare providers.
As you prepare for your initial appointment, we offer the following suggestions to ensure that your experience is a good one:
- Please plan to arrive to your appointment at least 30 minutes before your appointment so you will have time to complete the necessary paperwork.
- If you wear glasses or contact lenses to read, or use hearing aids or other sensory enhancing devices, please bring these with you to your appointment.
- Please also bring with you a list of all medications you are currently taking, as well as those that you have taken within the last 90 days.
- If you are being referred for testing, it is imperative that you abstain from all alcohol and non-prescribed drugs for at least 24 hours prior to your appointment. Failure to do so could compromise your test results.
What We Treat
- Bipolar disorder
- Borderline personality disorder
- Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Dissociative disorder
- Personality disorders
- Eating disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Overview of Wellstar's Psychological Services
Psychological Evaluations. At the request of physicians and patients themselves, Wellstar psychologists conduct various types of psychological evaluations. In most cases, if you intend that insurance pay for you care, a physician referral is required.
General Psychological Evaluations
Patients with complex psychiatric diagnoses are often referred for a general psychological evaluation to differentiate between and amongst diagnoses, and help determine the appropriate course of treatment. To ensure a collaborative process, patients are often asked at the onset of these evaluations, "What do you hope to learn about yourself?"
Common diagnostic differentials
Anxiety disorders; bipolar disorder; borderline personality disorder; depressive disorders; psychotic disorders; somatization disorders (physical symptom(s) resulting from a psychological issue, like headaches); substance-related disorders; etc.
Estimated time for evaluation
Initial diagnostic interview plus 1-6 hours of testing. The scope of testing will be determined during your initial appointment.
Patients are referred for neuropsychological testing after experiencing cognitive symptoms, such as attention problems, learning difficulties, memory loss, confusion, speech or language impairment, problems with movement, or problems doing things they used to do without difficulty. Neuropsychological evaluations involve specialized testing that focuses on identifying cognitive deficits and the localization of any organic abnormalities—regions of the brain that are affected by a disease process or a brain injury. Such evaluations can help determine whether and to what extent a patient is dealing with actual (not perceived) cognitive impairment.
Common diagnostic differentials
ADHD; Alzheimer's dementia; cognitive impairment due to traumatic brain injury; delirium; learning disability; Lewy body dementia; mild cognitive impairment; vascular dementia; etc.
Estimated time for evaluation
Initial diagnostic interview plus 2-8 hours of testing. The scope of testing will be determined during your initial appointment.
For spinal cord stimulators
Implanted in the lower abdominal or gluteal region, spinal cord stimulators can help to reduce the pain experienced by patients experiencing complex regional pain syndrome, failed back surgery, or other medical problems causing neuropathic pain. Patients electing to undergo this procedure are often required to have psychological evaluations to ensure their ability to tolerate the implanted device.
Estimated time for evaluation
Initial diagnostic interview plus two hours of testing.
For weight loss surgery
Patients who intend to pursue weight loss surgery via the duodenal switch, lap band, roux-en-y, or vertical sleeve gastrectomy procedures are typically required to undergo a psychological evaluation. Obesity is a complex and multifaceted problem, which is often related to biological, as well as emotional and behavioral, vulnerabilities. As part of the pre-surgical evaluation, patients are administered a battery of tests that help bring to light any emotional and behavioral contributors to a person's weight difficulty. Treatment recommendations are made to help patients avoid falling back into these behaviors.
Estimated time for evaluation
Initial diagnostic interview plus 2-3 hours of testing.
Individual & Group Interventions
Psychotherapy and behavioral modification services are provided to a range of patients with diverse treatment needs.In contrast to Wellstar's Outpatient Behavioral Health Services, which provides longer-term and intensive treatments to patients with psychiatric problems, Wellstar's Clinical Psychology practice focuses primarily on treatments for patients with medical conditions that have a psychological component, and for whom brief, evidence-based interventions are appropriate. Patients pursuing psychotherapy or behavioral modification services undergo an initial diagnostic evaluation. Subsequent sessions last 45 to 50 minutes on average. Although we meet most of our patients individually, we also intermittently offer groups that target a particular problem. The focus of sessions will always be the issues that brought you to us.
Wellstar's team of clinical psychologists are involved in the training of doctoral practicum students from APA-accredited, psychology training programs. Individual and group supervision is offered in accordance with training objectives and individualized student needs. The training of graduate students ensures that our psychologists remain committed to the latest scientific literature and remain abreast of the most current treatment advancements in the field.
Our clinical psychologists are involved in clinical translational research and quality improvement initiatives. Our investment in research is premised on the importance of our clinicians contributing to the scientific literature and ensuring that our practices are grounded, first and foremost, in scientific rationale. At present, members of our practice are involved in research collaborations with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Mental Illness Research, Education, & Clinical Center (MIRECC), and academic institutions (e.g. The University of Georgia).
Health Psychology focuses on disease prevention, the treatment of health problems through behavior modification, the promotion of health, and the identification of psychological and social causes of illness and disease. It is “devoted to understanding psychological influences on how people stay healthy, why they become ill, and how they respond when they do get ill” (Taylor, 2006). This emphasis on everyday stress-related and behavioral concerns marks a shift from focusing on more severe mental illnesses.
Examples of people who may benefit from Health Psychology include:
- A person experiencing chronic, work-related stress who is diagnosed with heart disease.
- A person whose marital problems have apparently led to insomnia.
- Someone with migraine headaches that seem to worsen the day after she consumes alcohol.
- Someone who reacts to stress by overeating, causing weight problems.
A practice within the Wellstar Medical Group, Health Psychology is comprised of doctoral-level clinical psychologists specializing in treatments for the following:
- Headache Treatment
- Insomnia Treatment
- Neuropsychological & Rehabilitation Psychology Services
- Pain Management
- Smoking Cessation
- Sports & Performance Psychology
- Weight Management
We provide evaluation, intervention, consultation, behavior modification, and psychotherapy to patients in cooperation with Wellstar physicians. We collaborate with various service lines and medical specialties, including cardiology, oncology, pulmonary, psychiatry, neurology, and the bariatric (weight loss) surgery program.
Many referrals to Health psychologists are because of patients' emotions, like depression and anxiety. Others result from behavioral issues like treatment noncompliance, unhealthy eating, smoking, sleep disorders, or stress that causes somatic symptoms like headaches.
A Health Psychology evaluation is generally brief, usually a single meeting of 30 to 60 minutes, during which you will be asked about how long you have been dealing with the problem, how it has affected your life, and how you have attempted to deal with the problem in the past. After the assessment, interventions will generally consist of individual or group discussions of how to manage your problem more effectively. Most often, treatment involves cognitive, behavioral, and psychophysiology interventions.