Types of Mental Health Providers
Understanding the roles, responsibilities and function of the various mental health providers can be daunting. I hope this list helps you understand the level of care provided by each practitioner and assists you in finding the correct professional for your current needs.
Psychologists – Psychologists have earned a doctoral degree from an accredited institution, have passed a national test for licensure, and practice care in a variety of settings. Psychologists are able to make psychiatric diagnosis, do psychoeducational evaluations, and provide group and individual therapy. Types of psychologists include clinical psychologist, school psychologists, and forensic psychologists. Psychologists cannot prescribe medication.
Clinical Social Worker – Clinical Social Workers have earned a master’s degree from an accredited institution. They are trained to diagnose (mental illness only), provide individual and group counseling. Social Workers typically have had training in case management and patient advocacy. This enables them to assist clients with finding and utilizing an appropriate care team and to access needed community resources.
Licensed Professional Counselor – An LPC has completed a master’s program at an accredited intuition. An LPC has passed a national test for licensure. LPCs can diagnose mental illness and provide counseling and group counseling.
Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor – An LCDC is trained in issues related to substance abuse and substance abuse recovery. An LCDC must limit their private practice to substance abuse related issues. Although an LCDC has passed a licensing exam, their training is limited and shorter than the licensed professionals above.
Psychiatrists – A Psychiatrist is a trained and licensed medical doctor. After earning their medical doctorate, a Psychiatrist receives additional training in mental illness and pharmacology. Psychiatrists are able to write prescriptions. They can provide counseling, but most do not, and function primarily on the medical side of treatment and care.
Nurse Psychotherapist – A Registered Nurse with additional specialized training in mental health issues. A nurse psychotherapist is able to diagnose mental illness and provide individual and group counseling.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist – An LMFT has earned a master’s degree in counseling or related field, with a concentration on family issues. An LMFT is able to diagnose mental illness and treat individuals, families, and in groups.
Pastoral Counselor – A pastoral counselor has training in religion and counseling. The title is not regulated, and a pastoral counselor may or may not have a masters or established licensing.
Peer Specialist, Recovery Advocate – Peer Advocates, recovery advocates are often persons who have experienced mental illness themselves and gone through a training program to help others address their problems. An advocate or specialist is able to provide support, education, and encouragement.