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NCCN Guidelines for Patients



Distress, Version 1.2017


How distressed are you?

Experts in distress


Psychologists are also mental health professionals.

Most psychologists have a doctoral degree in

psychology. The two doctoral degrees that can

be earned are a PhD and PsyD in psychology.

All psychologists complete an internship. Some

psychologists pursue more training in a post-doctoral

fellowship, obtain board certification, or both.

There are different fields of psychology. Clinical

psychologists, counseling psychologists, health

psychologists, neuropsychologists, and school

psychologists are some of the types of psychologists

that provide clinical services. A state license is

required to provide clinical services.

Psychologists provide a range of services. Examples

include in-depth mental health and neurocognitive

assessments. Many also provide psychotherapy.

Depending on their training, psychologists provide

treatment for the following:



Health issues (eg, pain, weight, sleep, sex,

taking medications)



Cognitive problems (eg, dementia, chemo




Mood and anxiety problems (eg, depression,

panic, worry)



Substance use (eg, drugs, alcohol, smoking)



Relationship issues (eg, caregiving strains,

social conflicts).

Read Part 3 to learn about mental health services.

In some states, psychologists can prescribe

medications after obtaining the proper education,

training, and state certification.


Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in

mental health. They first have to obtain either an MD

or DO degree. Afterward, they obtain a state license

to practice and complete a 4-year residency program

in psychiatry. Some become board certified, obtain

more training, or both.

Psychiatrists assess the physical and mental aspects

of mental health. They can order lab tests as well

as give psychological tests. Their training enables

them to understand relationships between medical

processes and psychological issues (eg, genetics,


Psychiatrists provide different types of treatment.

They are experts in prescribing psychiatric

medicines. Depending on their training, they may

conduct neurocognitive assessments and provide

psychotherapy. Read Part 3 to learn more about

mental health services provided by psychiatrists.