There are numerous choices to make when looking to find mental health professionals that can meet your needs in developing a successful treatment plan. There are over six different mental health professions with dozens of variations on the type or types of services they offer. It can be a confusing time deciding who to call, who is the right therapist for your needs, or figuring out just what type of mental health provider you do need.
Similarities and Differences among Mental Health Professionals
All mental health professionals who work with or treat individuals or groups, whether in a hospital, out-patient setting, group practice, or in private practice must hold a license to practice. Each state has its own specific rules and regulations for licensure for each type of profession that works directly with patients. The biggest difference found between the different types of mental health professionals can be found in the specialty or focus area and their educational background or degree held.
Mental Health Professionals
There are several different types of mental health providers to choose from when looking to find the right therapist or counselor for you. Some of the different types of professionals available in your community are:
- Psychiatrist – A psychiatrist is a medical doctor and the only mental health professional that is not only a specialist in mental health care, but one which can prescribe medications. While your family doctor can also prescribe mental health medications they do not hold the background or specialized training and degree for the treatment of mental health disorders. A psychiatrist may also include adjunct services such as cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy or support groups as part of your individual plan.
- Psychologist – A psychologist may practice psychotherapy and usually has a doctorate degree, but not a medical degree. Their training may require thousands of hours of training and clinical experience that can include the diagnosis, psychological assessment, psychotherapy, individual, marriage and family counseling. In some states and settings a psychologist may hold a master’s degree and practice under specific guidelines.
- Clinical Social Worker – A clinical social worker generally have a master’s degree in social work for a M.S.W. and will show L.C.S.W. if they are practiced in providing psychotherapy services. While a clinical social worker may work in private practice they are often found working in a hospital, mental health agency, or in conjunction with a psychiatrist.
- Psychiatric Nurses – These nurses are registered nurses (RN) who have received specialized psychiatric training where they may provide some forms of psychotherapy. Psychiatric nurses are most typically found in a mental health facility or agency or working with psychiatrists or psychologists.
- Marriage and Family Therapist – These therapists may hold a master’s degree but rules and regulations vary from state to state, where they may be practicing with a more limited degree and experience. In choosing a marriage and family therapist it is important to check on their educational background as well as experience and training received with mental health disorders.
Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
In addition to medication, psychiatrists may also choose to engage you in psychotherapy, whether in a group or through adjunct services connected to their practice. Some common types of psychotherapy offered include cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and psychodynamic therapy to name a few. Your psychiatrist will make the determination as to what your treatment program will include following a comprehensive assessment of your concerns and issues.
Choose the mental health professional who can meet all of your needs. Call Dr. Hege for a confidential appointment – evening and weekend appointments available.