Taking the step to seek mental health support is already complex without adding on deciding which professional is right for you. The term “therapist” or “clinician” is used by many mental health professionals making it even harder to distinguish who is providing what supports. Understanding those letters behind a person’s name and what they mean are important when deciding who you want to support you on your mental health journey. This guide will share some popular Mental Health Professional (MHP) titles and descriptions so you can feel more confident in finding the right fit for you.
This professional is trained to differentiate mental health problems from other underlying medical conditions that could show up as psychiatric symptoms. The professional you want to see if you are having a possible chemical imbalance and needing medication prescribed as well as psychological assessment for a mental health diagnosis. Psychiatrists able to provide psychotherapy. This professional is a trained medical doctor and will spend much of the treatment on medication management. So, if you are interested in going a more holistic route and already have a diagnosis, this might not be the right professional for you.
Credentials & Licensure: Medical Doctor (M.D.)
This professional has a doctoral degree specializing in the study of human mind and behaviors. Psychologists are able to provide counseling and psychotherapy as well as perform psychological testing. This is the professional you want to see for help with different types of life issues such as stress, anxiety, and phobias. Their goal is to help keep you free from symptoms of your mental health problems so you can get the most out of life.
Credentials & Licensure: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)
Licensed Professional Counselor
This professional typically has a master’s degree specializing in counseling, clinical mental health, or psychology, but can sometimes hold a doctoral degree. A Professional Counselor is trained to provide counseling, psychotherapy, and evaluate and treat mental issues. This professional is qualified to give assessments and provide diagnoses as well. This is the professional to see if you want to work on symptom reduction by creating a more positive mindset and learn how to set attainable goals for better living.
Credentials & Licensure: Varies by specialty and state.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker This professional typically has a master’s degree in social work and additional clinical training in evaluating and treating mental illnesses. This is the professional you want to see for therapy and
advocacy. A Clinical Social Worker is able to provide therapy as well as providing hospital discharge planning and case management around homelessness, abusive relationships, and employment issues.
Credentials & Licensure: Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)
Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor
This professional specializes in helping people struggling with substance abuse disorders. The Chemical Dependency Counselor provides guidance and support to clients on their recovery journey. The educational background of this professional can range from associate degree to a master’s degree.
Credentials & Licensure:
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Kiki McCray is a Texas based licensed psychotherapist serving women & millennials wanting to manage their anxiety and other mental barriers preventing them from reaching their goals.