On Your Health

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Different Types of Mental Health Providers

The different types of mental health professionals can seem confusing when trying to decide who to see about your mental health. It’s important to get the right treatment, which is why we’ve broken down different mental health professionals by their treatment processes and licensures.

Mental health assessment and therapeutic programs

If you’re struggling to understand your thoughts, behaviors and feelings, therapy could be the right solution. There are several types of mental health professionals who can help you cope with emotions and find tactics to better achieve life goals.


This type of mental health professional can be classified under a variety of titles based on the treatment setting, including counselor, clinician and therapist, among others. They are trained in ways to evaluate mental health and help the patient cope through a variety of therapeutic techniques.

In this category, you could see a licensed professional counselor; mental health counselor; certified alcohol, drug and abuse counselor; marital and family therapist or registered nurse psychotherapist.

Degrees and licenses:

-Master of Science or Master of Art in counseling psychology, psychology, marriage or family therapy or other mental health-related fields.

-Licenses vary by state and specialty. The following licenses are common in this field, among others.

  • Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC).
  • Licensed Clinical Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counselor (LCADAC).
  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).

Clinical social worker

In addition to their training in advocacy services and case management, clinical social workers are able to evaluate a patient’s mental health and provide therapeutic techniques for improved quality of life. Many programs require clinical social workers to undergo thousands of hours of clinical practice.

Degrees and licenses:

-Master of Social Work (MSW).

Some of the most common licenses include:

  • Academy of Certified Social Worker (ACSW)
  • Licensed Independent Social Workers (LICSW)
  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)


Psychologists are trained to use clinical interviews along with psychological evaluations and testing to evaluate a patient’s mental health. You can attend individual or group therapy with this kind of mental health professional. Some are specially trained in behavioral therapy interventions such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) or cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

You may encounter both clinical and school psychologists. A clinical psychologist has a doctoral degree in psychology and works outside of an educational institution. A school psychologist has an advanced degree in psychology with a focus on the practice in a school setting. They are able to work with the other school employees to maintain efficiency and care for those seeking mental health guidance.

Degrees and licenses:

-Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in a psychology field.

  • Licensed by state licensure board of psychology after completing thousands of hours of clinical practice.

Mental health assessment and prescriptions

In addition to their specialties in mental health evaluations, diagnoses and therapeutic treatment programs, certain mental health professionals are able to prescribe medication to help manage symptoms.


Psychiatrists are the only mental health professionals who are licensed doctors with a specialty in mental health and ability to prescribe medication. While family practitioners can prescribe mental health medications, they are not required to have extensive training in the assessment and treatment of mental health disorders.

Psychiatrists are licensed to prescribe and monitor medication along with performing or assigning therapeutic practices. Psychiatrists can also be further trained in substance use disorders, child and adolescent mental health or geriatric psychiatry.

Psychiatrists are able to admit patients to a hospital when necessary and set up additional medical exams like pathology tests. They often practice in hospitals, private offices or community programs.

Degrees and licenses:

-Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) or Doctor of Medicine (MD) with the completion of psychiatry residency training.

  • Licensed physician by the state in which they practice and could also be “Board Certified” by the Board of Neurology and Psychiatry.

Mental health or psychiatric nurse practitioner

These nurse practitioners have the training to assess, diagnose, and perform treatment processes for mental health conditions. In many states, they are able to prescribe medications – although this is not always the case. Some states also require that nurse practitioners are supervised to an extent by a licensed psychiatrist.

Degrees and licenses:

-Master of Science (MS) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in nursing with a specialty in psychiatry.

  • Licensed by the state board where they practice and could also have credentials from:
  • PMHNP-BC, board certified Advanced Practice Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.
  • NCLEX by the National Council Licensure Examination.

While choosing a mental health professional can seem daunting, each type specializes in different approaches to mental health. The staff at INTEGRIS Decisions Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Programs is available if you need help. Decisions offers treatment for both adults and adolescents. Simply call them at 405-717-9840 and they can help you get the mental health services you need.