You know you need mental help. Your friends tell you to go see a therapist or counselor. But you are now having a hard time on where to go or who to consult to. You opened your laptop and made a search on the types of mental health professionals that can help you with your mental health issue. You were surprised that there were so many in the health care practice that describes mental health professionals. So, where will this lead you?It is true. With all the specializations that one can get in medical science, there are now several counselors, therapists, and other mental health professionals to choose from. But it’s not really up to you to choose; your doctor will refer you to the right person that can help you with your current issues. That is because “Therapy can be an important component of our professional identity as we learn from our own therapists.” Tyger Latham Psy.D. said.
Categories of mental health professionals
First of all, let us categorize the mental health professionals into three aspects – those who can provide psychological assessments and therapies, those who can prescribed medications, and those who can provide counsel and advice.
In the first category, we have the Clinical Psychologist and School Psychologist. They can provide psychological assessments and from these assessments, can come up with diagnosis. They can also offer psychological advice; however, they cannot prescribe medications that can help the patient manage the symptoms that are caused by mental disorders. “A mental illness cannot be willed away or brushed aside with a change in attitude. Ignoring the problem doesn’t give it the slip either.” Deborah Serani, PsyD said.
The second category comprised of mental health professionals that can prescribed medications. Because of the medical education and training, they can diagnose and provide specific medications to manage psychiatric conditions. Examples of these mental health professionals are the Psychiatrists, Child or Adolescent Psychiatrist, and Psychiatric or Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. In contrast with the first category of mental health professionals, the second category cannot provide counseling services or therapy sessions to their patients. That’s why they complement each other and work cooperatively to help the patient recover.
The third category of mental health professionals are more specific to the type of mental help the patient needs. They can offer counselling and with proper training, they can also do assessments; however, they cannot prescribe medication. Examples of the mental health professionals in this category are:
- Clinical social worker
- Licensed professional counselor
- Mental health counselor
- Certified alcohol and drug abuse counselor
- Nurse psychotherapist
- Marital and family therapist
- Pastoral or religious counselor
- Peer specialist
- Art therapist or Music therapist
How to choose the right one
As stressed out earlier, the person may go to a mental health professional to seek advice but will not consider the specialization that this therapist or counselor has. You may feel that a pastoral or religious counselor can help you because of your marital problems, but there’s a marriage counselor or family therapist who is trained for these types of problems, thereby able to assist you appropriately. Your primary care doctor will be able to provide referral to the right mental health professional. Your part on this search is to check and verify their credentials, educations, years of training and experience. Everybody can give advice, but not everyone has the foundation and training of psychology and psychiatry to establish this advice from. Make sure that you are receiving appropriate services only from a credited mental health professional. “A good therapist should be open and willing to understand your concerns. If your counselor doesn’t take your concerns seriously or is unwilling to accept feedback, then it’s probably in your best interest to consult with another therapist about it.” Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC said.