Types of Mental Health Professionals


When you’re dealing with mental illness, it’s important to find the right professional. You might need a therapist, psychiatrist, or some other type of mental health provider. Here’s what they all do:


A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses. They are trained to prescribe medication and can also perform therapy, including psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). Psychiatrists may do brain scans and other neurological tests if necessary. In some cases, they may also be able to perform surgery on certain conditions or diseases.

A psychiatrist can help you manage your emotions by helping you understand what’s causing them and how to cope with them better.


A psychologist is a mental health professional who treats patients with mental and emotional disorders. Psychologists have at least a Ph.D. or PsyD degree, and they can work directly with patients or in research settings. They are trained to help people with problems like anxiety, depression, and stress; relationship issues; substance abuse problems; eating disorders; grief or loss related to the death of loved ones or divorce; OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder); bipolar disorder; schizophrenia — among others.

Psychologists can work for hospitals, clinics, schools, and universities in addition to private practice offices. They might also work for government agencies such as child protective services or veterans’ administration hospitals as well as businesses that offer employee assistance programs (EAP).

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

An LCSW is a social worker who has completed advanced training in therapy, counseling, and psychotherapy. Like an MD or Ph.D., one of the first steps to becoming an LCSW is completing a master’s program; however, unlike those degrees, which focus exclusively on academic research, the degree for this field combines coursework in clinical studies with supervised clinical experience. This combination allows you to receive extensive training in both theory and practice as well as earn your license as a mental health professional.

After graduation from grad school or attaining your master’s degree if you already have a bachelor’s degree, you must then complete 1-3 years of supervised clinical work under another LCSW before taking the state licensing exam that allows you to practice independently as an LCSW.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT) are the most common type of mental health professional. They have a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy, which is a specialized program that focuses on developing skills to help people with relationship problems. LMFTs typically help couples build strong relationships and resolve conflict, but they can also work with individuals who need help dealing with issues such as depression or anxiety.

LMFTs typically charge between $100 and $150 per hour for their services. Often, insurance companies will reimburse you for part of these fees if your provider accepts your insurance plan—and some states require LMFTs to accept Medicaid patients as well.

To find out if an LMFT is qualified to treat your condition or situation, ask them questions about their background: Where did they get their training? What kind of specialty training do they have? How many years have they been working in this field? What kind of approach do they use when working with clients like yourself? You should feel comfortable talking openly about things like drug use or workplace stressors without being judged by the person providing treatment—this will likely be an ongoing relationship over several months (or longer), so it’s important that both parties trust each other enough not only to share personal information but also maintain that trust over time by staying honest about progress made toward resolving whatever issue brought you into therapy in the first place!

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

A psychiatric nurse practitioner is a registered nurse with advanced training in psychiatry. They can prescribe medication, diagnose mental illness and provide treatment for patients with mental health problems. In order to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner, you must first become an RN and then complete an advanced degree program in psychiatric nursing at an accredited school of nursing.

Once you have these qualifications, you can find work as a PNP as long as it’s within your state’s scope of practice laws. The majority of states allow nurses to prescribe medications including antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications; however they cannot prescribe any controlled substances like stimulants or sedatives without further training or certification through the board of nursing or other governing bodies within their state (for example: North Carolina requires at least 3 additional hours per year).

If you are interested in becoming a PNP but don’t have access to one where you live, there are many online resources available that offer CEU courses that will help prepare potential candidates for recertification requirements—or if necessary certification exams themselves—which include topics such as pharmacology basics based on DSM criteria along with specific medication safety precautions and protocols regarding use by vulnerable populations such as seniors over 65 years old who may require home care services due to cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease.”

Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Specialist

A psychiatric mental health nurse specialist is a registered nurse who has completed advanced education in psychiatric mental health nursing. In addition to providing direct care, they often work as consultants on health policy issues and assist with educational efforts to improve the quality of mental health care and services provided by various healthcare providers. This advanced practice specialty is a growing field; however, only about 15% of nurses have this certification.

There are many people you can go to for mental help

“Should I go to a psychiatrist?” you ask.

“What’s the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?” you ask.

“How can I tell if my mental health professional is qualified?” you ask.

The answer is: There are many different types of mental health professionals, and each one has their own area of expertise. Some professionals are medical doctors who specialize in treating psychiatric disorders; these professionals may be psychiatrists or psychologists (more on that later). Other specialists include social workers, nurse practitioners and counselors (also discussed below), but for now let’s concentrate on what makes someone a “psychiatrist” versus being another type of mental health professional (e.g. psychologist).


There are many types of mental health professionals, each with their own specialty. One type might not be right for you, but it’s good to know that there are many options out there!

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