Mental Health Professionals

Mental Health Professionals: What Are They and What Do They Do?

I’m not sure which mental health expert is the best fit for me. Mental health providers come in various shapes and sizes, and finding the best one for you may necessitate some investigation. To assist you in understanding the distinctions between the services they give, below is a list of different mental health treatment specialists.

The following mental health specialists can give psychological exams and therapy, but not drugs (although some states allow it):

  • Clinical Psychologist – A psychologist who has earned a doctorate in psychology from a recognized or designated psychology program. Psychologists are qualified to diagnose and treat individuals and groups.
  • A psychologist with an advanced degree in psychology from an accredited/designated program in school psychology is referred to as a school psychologist. School psychologists are trained to make diagnoses, administer individual and group therapy, and collaborate with school employees to improve school efficiency.

The mental health specialists listed below can provide counseling and assessments with adequate training, but they cannot prescribe medication:

  • A counselor with a master’s degree in social work from a recognized graduate institution is a clinical social worker. Diagnoses and provides individual and group counseling, case management, and advocacy training; frequently seen in the hospital context.
  • A counselor having a master’s degree in psychology, counseling, or a similar subject is known as a Licensed Professional Counselor and is trained to diagnose and give therapy to individuals and groups.
  • A mental health counselor with a master’s degree and several years of supervised clinical work experience is a mental health counselor trained to diagnose and give therapy to individuals and groups.
  • Certified Alcohol and Drug Misuse Counselor – A counselor who has received specialized training in alcohol and drug abuse, trained to diagnose and give therapy to individuals and groups.
  • Nurse Psychotherapist — a registered nurse who has completed psychiatric and mental health nursing training, trained to diagnose and give therapy to individuals and groups.
  • Marriage and Family Therapist – a counselor who has earned a master’s degree and has received additional training and education in marital and family therapy, trained to diagnose and give treatment to individuals and groups.
  • Pastoral Counselors are clergy who have received clinical religious education training—trained to diagnose and give therapy to individuals and groups.
  • Peer Specialist – a counselor who has personal experience with mental illness or substance abuse. Recognizes and develops strengths and sets goals to assist clients in their recovery. Several hours of training are required for many peer assistance programs.
  • Other Therapists – a therapist with a master’s degree specializing in a certain type of treatment. Art therapists and music therapists are two examples.

Although the following mental health practitioners can prescribe medicine, they are not permitted to give therapy:

  • A psychiatrist is a clinician who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders. Although psychiatrists can prescribe medication, they rarely provide counseling to their patients.
  • A medical doctor specializing in diagnosing and treating emotional and behavioral issues in children and adolescents is known as a child/adolescent psychiatrist. Psychiatrists for children and adolescents can prescribe medicine, but they cannot provide psychotherapy.
  • A registered nurse practitioner with a graduate degree and specialized training in diagnosing and treating mental and emotional disorders is a psychiatric or mental health nurse practitioner.

Additionally, depending on your state, your Primary Care Physician, Physician’s Assistant, or Nurse Practitioner may be qualified to provide medication.

You’ve Contacted A Mental Health Professional. Now What? So, what’s next?

Spend a few minutes on the phone with them, inquiring about their method of working with patients, their philosophy, and whether or not they have a specialty or focus (some psychologists, for instance, specialize in family counseling, or child counseling, while others specialize in divorce or coping with the loss of a loved one.) Make an appointment with the counselor or doctor if you feel comfortable speaking with them.

The counselor or doctor will want to know you and why you came to see them on your first visit. The counselor will want to know about your problem, life, what you do, where you live, and who you live with. Inquiries about your family and acquaintances are also prevalent. This information assists the professional in evaluating your situation and developing a treatment strategy.

If you don’t feel at ease with the professional after the first, or even numerous appointments, express your concerns at your next meeting; don’t hesitate to seek help from another counselor. The effectiveness of your treatment will be determined by how comfortable you are with the specialist you hire.


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