National Wise Mental Health Consumer Month: What are the different types of Mental Health Professionals?

Distinguishing between the different types of mental health professionals confusing.

Psychiatrists: A Psychiatrist is medical doctor (MD) who has specialized in mental health problems. Since they are medical doctors, they can prescribe medications for treatment. Many psychiatrists also do counseling /psychotherapy.

Psychologists: A Psychologist a scholar or professional who studies human behavior. A Clinical Psychologist or Counseling Psychologist does counseling/psychotherapy.  A Psychologist has a PhD, PsyD (Doctor of Psychology), or EdD (Doctorate of Education.

There are a number of different kinds  master’s level mental health practitioners.  Sometimes the name is based on state regulations.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT): A LMFT has at least a master’s degree and is trained in counseling/psychotherapy with individuals, couples, families, and children.  MFT degrees used to be called MFCC (Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling).

Licensed  Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, (LCPC), & Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC): These councilors have at least a master’s degree and sometimes a doctorate. They are trained to do general counseling, career counseling, and/or psychotherapy.

Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW): Social workers sometimes work at social service agencies doing case management and coordinating community services. Many clinical social workers are trained in and do counseling/psychotherapy.

Certified Addiction Counselor (CAC): These counselors have a master’s degree and specialize in treatment of alcoholism, drug addition, etc.

All of the above mental health professionals have to be licensed or certified by the states they practice in and in their respective fields. They have to require many hours of training and clinical experience under supervision before they are authorized to practice on their own.

To get help with mental health problems:

National Institute on Mental Health: How to Find Help

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: Mental Health Services Locator

Psychology Today: Therapist Search