Types of Mental Health Providers
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor with special training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders. As medical doctors, they are qualified to prescribe medication. Most psychiatrists only prescribe meds and do not provide psychotherapy. Patients often benefit from the combination of psychotherapy and meds. It is therefore common to have both a therapist and a psychiatrist. A child and adolescent psychiatrist specializes in the treatment of children and adolescents.
Clinical psychologists are trained in the practice of psychological assessments, diagnosis of mental illness and individual or group psychotherapy. Psychologists have a doctoral degree in psychology from an accredited doctoral program in psychology. In order to receive a license, a psychologist must have extended supervised professional experience, including a clinical internship.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
An LCSW provides individual or group psychotherapy and mental health diagnoses and works with clients and their families in order to help them deal with issues involving their mental and emotional health. A social worker is also trained in crisis intervention and helping connect people with the resources that are available to them. An LCSW must have a master’s degree in social work from an accredited graduate program. In order to receive a license, an LCSW must have 2000 to 3000 hours of supervised work experience. Different states have different names for an equivalent license. For example, Certified Master Social Work (CMSW), Licensed Social Worker (LSW), Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW), Licensed Certified Social Worker – Clinical (LCSW-C).
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
An LPC provides individual or group psychotherapy and mental health diagnoses and works with clients and their families in order to help them deal with issues involving their mental and emotional health. A LPC’s training is solely focused on counseling (unlike a social worker). An LPC must have a master’s degree in psychology, counseling or a related field such as marriage and family therapy. In order to receive a license an LPC must have 2000-3000 hours of supervised work experience. In some states, a professional counselor is called a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC).
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)
An LMFT is very similar to an LPC in that the training is focused solely on counseling, except that an LMFT is specifically trained to treat behaviors in its social and relational context.
Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor (CADC)
A CADC is a counselor with specific clinical training in alcohol and drug abuse, trained to diagnose and provide individual and group counseling.
A Psychiatric Nurse is a Registered Nurse (RN) who seeks additional education in the field of mental health disorders. They provide the full range of psychiatric care services to individuals and groups, function as psychotherapists, and in most states they have the authority to prescribe medications. A Psychiatric Nurse is a type of Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) and therefore requires post-graduate education with a focus on psychiatric disorders.
*DISCLAIMER – The preceding articles are provided for informational purposes only. These resources are not in substitute of the services of mental health care professional.