When seeking mental health services, the options presented can seem a bit overwhelming. You hear terms such as psychologist and psychiatrist and wonder how they differ. So, today I’m going to provide some clarity on those and give you information on a couple of professions associated with mental health.
Let’s begin with Psychologists. A psychologist is someone who has an undergraduate/masters and doctoral degree in psychology, which is the study of the brain in terms of human behavior and personality. Clinical psychologists have undergone and pre and post doctoral internship. They work to prevent, diagnose and treat mental disorders. They specialize in testing for various mental illnesses, learning disabilities and client functioning. Some also perform psychotherapy and provide skills training. So this would be a good person to go to if you’re wanting to know how your child functions in relations to other children their age.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who helps patients by evaluating medical and psychosocial conditions; developing and implementing treatment plans, and prescribe medications for mental health conditions. Psychiatrists must complete a four-year medical school program, a residency as well as the possibility of a fellowship, prior to practicing psychiatry.
Next we have Mental Health Counselors. Depending on the state, you might hear us called LPCs or LMHC. They all hold a bachelors and masters degree and are required to complete a supervised internship following the graduate program where they must counsel a certain number of hours. Most of their job is offering guidance to individuals, couples, families and groups who are dealing with issues that affect their mental health and well-being. We also encourage clients to discuss emotions and experiences, and help clients define goals, teach skills and gain insight.
Neuropsychologists are psychologists that work with patients who have sustained a brain injury. Neuropsychologists also conduct research to determine the link between behavior and the brain.
Licensed clinical social workers are social workers that hold a bachelors and masters degree and have completed an additional 2 years of supervised training in providing therapy. They work in various environments such as hospitals, non profit agencies and schools. These professionals are also referred to as therapists at times.
Now we’re going to explore a couple of professions that don’t necessarily fall under the umbrella of mental health, but many times work alongside them on a treatment team.
Behavior analysts are researchers who conduct studies that measure specific influences, such as the environment, on behavior, or look for new ways to solve behavior problems in specific audiences, such as school children or the elderly. they create behavior modification plans for children suffering from a variety of issues including developmental disabilities or Autism.
Lastly, you have Occupational therapists treat injured, ill, or disabled patients through the therapeutic use of everyday activities. They help these patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working.