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Thirteen-year-old a chronic liar

Question:

My family is experiencing numerous problems, but today I need help with my stepdaughter. She lies often, and it is becoming increasingly problematic at home and school. Her school counselors say that it has escalated to the point where they cannot help her anymore. She lies about things that don’t really matter, such as what she had for lunch. She is losing friends, and even her family members do not trust her anymore. What kind of help does she need? What are the differences among a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a counselor and a therapist? I am worried that if she does not receive the proper help now, she will have a very unhappy life ahead of her.

 

Answer:

We, too, feel that professional intervention is imminent. Here are answers to your question about mental health professionals:

  • A psychiatrist is qualified to prescribe and monitor medication, and is a doctor- level Ph.D.
  • A clinical psychologist is a doctor-level Ph.D. He or she often conducts psychological evaluations and makes diagnoses based on the results of the evaluations. He or she typically provides information to a psychiatrist if they feel that the patient would benefit from medication.
  • A therapist typically has a master’s-level education. Depending on his area of education, he can provide therapy to children, individuals, families and couples. Therapists do not typically offer diagnoses, but they are often able to recognize characteristics and symptoms that fit certain diagnoses.
  • Counselors usually have a bachelor’s-level education and have been trained in a specific area. They are often not licensed.

If the school counselor has a recommendation, he or she would be a good resource. Your family physician may also be a good resource for referrals in your community. We can make referrals based on your city and state as well.

 

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