Which Healthcare Professional is Right for You?

When seeking help for mental illness, it can be confusing knowing where to turn. There are several different resources for people experiencing mental health concerns, including utilizing your EAP, accessing treatment through your medical benefits, participating in support groups, and engaging in self-care activities such as meditation. When professional help is necessary, many people aren’t sure which type of treatment provider is right for them. Learning the roles and differences between healthcare professionals is a great place to start.

  1. Counselors, Clinicians and Therapists

    • These masters-level professionals have several different titles, although they are generally interchangeable. They are trained to provide psychotherapy, and use a variety of therapeutic techniques to help people reduce their symptoms and make beneficial changes in their thoughts, feelings and behavior. Seeing one of these professionals for talk therapy can help with anything from daily challenges to major life obstacles.

  2. Clinical Social Workers

    • Clinical social workers are trained to evaluate a person’s mental health and use therapeutic techniques based on specific training programs. They are also trained in case management and advocacy services.

  3. Psychologists

    • The differentiating factor separating psychologists from other providers is that they hold a doctoral degree, such as a Ph.D. or Psy.D. They are trained to evaluate a person’s mental health using clinical interviews, psychological evaluations and testing.  Many psychologists also provide therapy and may have advanced training and specializations.

  4. Psychiatrists

    • These are licensed medical doctors with psychiatric training. Seeing a psychiatrist, as opposed to another mental health professional, is necessary if someone needs medication to help alleviate symptoms of mental illness. In addition to diagnosing and treating mental health conditions, some also provide talk therapy.

If finding the right care provider is still unclear, a primary care physician might be able to make a referral to the right resource. It is important to consider all options to make an informed decision specific to an individual’s needs and lifestyle.

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