Anthony and Stephen Ragusea

Licensed Psychologists

1901 Fogarty Ave.
Suite 5
Key West, FL 33040

Many people don't realize that "psychologist" is a very specific profession with very specific training and licensing requirements. Simply put, no profession in existence today has as much knowledge and experience about the human brain and human behavior as psychology does. Most psychologists apply their knowledge to helping people with emotional and behavioral problems, but psychologists can actually have many different kinds of jobs.

Only qualified people can call themselves psychologists, according to the law. Different states have different rules and requirements about who can call themselves psychologists, but in general a psychologist is someone who, in addition to a bachelor's or master's degree, has earned a doctorate specifically in the area of psychology. The degree they earned is likely a Ph.D. (doctor of philosophy), Psy.D. (doctor of psychology), or even Ed.D. (doctor of education).

Most psychologists attend at least 4 years of full-time academic education at the doctoral level and 1 year of full-time supervised internship. Most psychologists complete their doctoral degree in 5-7 years. After earning their degree, psychologists complete at least one year of supervised residency. Psychologists must then pass a thorough examination and become licensed before they can legally provide most services. Their extensive training and education qualifies them to perform a number of services under the law, including psychological testing, psychotherapy, consultation, and research.

People often confuse "psychologists" with "psychiatrists." A psychiatrist is a person who graduated from medical school who also received some additional, specialized training in treating psychological problems. The amount of training they receive varies widely. Some psychiatrists also offer psychotherapy or counseling, but most focus just on prescribing medications that are designed to treat psychological problems (everything from anxiety and depression to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia).

Psychologists have less medical training but all are required to have some education in the biological basis of human behavior.  Although most psychologists do not currently prescribe medication, they can in some states such as Louisiana and New Mexico.  These psychologists are trained in medical psychology and can prescribe specific medications.

People also often confuse the terms "psychologist" and "counselor." While some psychologists refer to themselves as counselors and what they do as counseling, most people who use the title "counselor" are people who have earned a masters degree in psychology or a related field such as social work. The title "counselor," like "psychologist," is in some states a protected title with a specific legal meaning. State laws do not typically allow counselors to perform the same services as psychologists, for example they are often prohibited from conducting psychological testing.