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5 Types Of Mental Health Professionals - What Do They Do?

7 min read
Last Updated on 21 February, 2024

Your mental health is an essential part of your overall well-being, but finding the right mental health professionals can be a daunting process. Have you ever found yourself puzzled between a psychiatrist and a psychologist, unsure of who can best address your concerns? You're not alone.

The world of mental health is vast, and it's essential to unravel the mysteries and break free from the stigma that often surrounds it.

Understanding mental health professionals and their roles is the first step toward seeking appropriate help. The right professional can empower you to take control of your mental, emotional, spiritual, or relationship challenges.

Let's delve into the types of mental health professionals and what each of them brings to the table.

What Are The Different Types Of Mental Health Professionals?


Getting help for mental, emotional, spiritual, or relationship issues can be difficult. And finding the right mental health professional can help you take control of any issue in your life. Mental health is as important as your physical health and knowing which mental health service provider to seek is one of the most important parts of the journey.

Like other medical doctors, there are different types of mental health professionals to help you with your mental health issues. There is a wide range of professionals in the field of mental health who diagnose and treat mental illness.

Most mental health professionals have a master's degree and a license to practice providing services for specific mental health conditions. Each of their licenses and services depends on their training, specialization, and state law.

The following list consists of five common types of mental health professionals. Each provides a unique treatment plan and specializes in a specific area of mental health.

Based on a survey conducted between February 2001 and April 2003 using the Worldwide Health Organization structure of mental health structure, nearly 46% of American adults will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition at some point in their lives, and half will start developing by the age of 14. .

5 Types Of Mental Health Professionals


1. Psychiatrists

Psychologists and psychiatrists are not the same, although people often confuse them. Doctors of medicine (MD) and doctors of osteopathic medicine (OD) who specialize in mental health are psychiatrists.

Psychiatrists specialize in treating and diagnosing mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders. Treatment involves psychiatric medicines, lab tests, and even physical exams. Unlike psychologists, psychiatrists specialize in fields like child and adolescent psychiatry, geriatrics and addictions, and forensic psychiatry.

Here is a list of things that a psychiatrist can or cannot do -

  • They can diagnose and treat mental health disorders.

  • They can prescribe medicines.

  • They can provide counseling called psychotherapy.

Suggested Read : 10 Means to Raise Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace

2. Psychologists

When you think of a psychologist, you probably picture someone lying on a couch and talking to a doctor about their feelings. In reality, psychologists do more than just ask you about your feelings.

A psychologist is a person who is trained in psychology, i.e., the science of behavior, thoughts, and feelings. Most psychologists hold a doctoral degree, such as Ph.D. They are trained to cure a wide range of mental health issues and not just confined to the mainstream ones.

A psychologist can work in a private office, hospital, or even an institution like a school. And here are a few of the things that a psychologist can or not do -

  • They can diagnose and treat several mental health issues and disorders.

  • They provide counseling both in one-on-one and group settings.

  • They cannot prescribe medicines unless they are licensed.

3. Psychiatric Nursing

A psychiatric or mental health nurse practitioner is a registered nurse trained to deal with mental health problems. They specialize in mental health disorders and are known for their therapeutic relationship with people seeking help.

A psychiatric nurse must have a master's degree in psychiatric mental health nursing. They perform psychological therapy and administer psychiatric medication.

In many cases, they treat challenging behavior related to mental health conditions under medical supervision.

Here is a list of things that a psychiatric nurse can or cannot do -

  • They can offer services depending on their education, training level, and state law.

  • They can even prescribe medicines if the law allows or they have a license for the same.

Suggested Read : Behavioral Therapy: Does Your Office Need it?

4. Licensed Professional Counselor

Licensed professional counselors are mental health counselors who provide counseling as a treatment to those dealing with any mental health condition. Since it is a broad term, it is important to know about a counselor's education, experience, and the kind of service they provide.

A counselor has a master's degree with clinical experience

A licensed professional counselor can specialize in fields like -

  • Job stress

  • Addiction

  • Licensed marriage and family therapists

  • Marriage family therapy

  • General psychology counseling

A licensed professional counselor can do the following -

  • They can provide diagnosis and counseling for a range of concerns.

  • They are not licensed to prescribe medication.

  • They may work with another provider who can prescribe medication if needed.

Suggested Read : Health Behavior: 6 Measures To Enhance Employee Wellness

5. Licensed Clinical Social Worker

People turn to social workers for help when they have difficulties coping with life's issues. These can be both professional and personal issues that they assist people with. Clinical social workers are trained and experienced in dealing with mental health issues. They must have a master's degree in social work or a doctorate in social work, like Ph.d.

A licensed social worker can work in government or private institutions, including offices, hospitals, and NGOs. In addition to helping with housing problems, domestic violence, and unemployment, they can also assist with other problems as well.

Here is a list of things that a social worker can or cannot do -

  • They can provide assessment, diagnosis, and counseling depending on their level of training and experience.

  • They are not licensed to prescribe medications.

  • They can, however, work with other medical doctors who prescribe medicine if required.

According to a survey by the Mental Health America , almost a third (28.2%) of all adults with a mental illness reported that they were not able to receive the treatment they needed. 42% of adults with AMI reported they were unable to receive necessary care because they could not afford it. .

How Can You Find A Mental Health Service Provider?

The process of finding the right mental health service provider can be challenging if you are a novice or unfamiliar with it. Knowing your mental health and who to seek is not enough if you cannot get the help you need.

Here are a few things you should consider when searching for a mental health provider -

  • You can ask your health insurance company for a list of service providers. Most companies have a list of providers they cover easily available on the internet.

  • You ask your reliable friends or family members.

  • You can check if your company's employee assistance programs
    offer any mental health services to their employees.

  • You can contact a national or local mental health organization for assistance.

  • You can also search the internet for professional associations with directories of mental health providers, such as the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association.

Download our free guide on Corporate Wellness Programs for implementing better employee experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?

Psychologists and psychiatrists are distinct in their approaches to mental health. Psychologists are experts in behavioral and thought patterns, employing various forms of therapy for treatment.

They hold advanced degrees like Ph.D. or Psy.D. Psychiatrists, on the other hand, are medical doctors (MDs or DOs) specializing in mental health. They can diagnose and treat mental health disorders, often utilizing a combination of therapy and medication.

2. How do I choose the right mental health professional for my needs?

Mental health professionals should be selected based on your specific mental health concerns, treatment preferences, and comfort level. Psychologists, licensed professional counselors, or licensed clinical social workers may be suitable for you if you prefer talk therapy. A psychiatrist may be the right choice if you are willing to take medication as part of your treatment.

3. Can I switch mental health professionals if I'm not satisfied with the current one?

Yes, you have the right to switch mental health professionals if you feel the current one doesn't meet your expectations or provide the support you need. It's essential to find a mental health professional you can connect with and trust.

Summing It Up

Mental health encompasses a diverse and complex spectrum of challenges, each requiring a unique approach to resolution. Understanding the roles of different mental health professionals is the key to finding the right support for your specific needs.

When choosing a mental health professional, consider the treatment approach that aligns with your condition, preferences, and comfort level.

Remember, your mental health is a priority, and there's a professional out there ready to guide you on your journey to healing and growth. Seek help, embrace the support, and take that crucial step toward a healthier, happier you. Your well-being matters.

This article is written by Neha Yasmin who is a content marketer at Vantage Circle. A selenophile with a penchant for discovering great meals and drinks. Is a self-proclaimed binge racer with a knack for cooking in her spare time. For queries, reach out to

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