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What Type of Mental Health Professional Is Right for You?

A mental health professional can help you deal with emotional, mental, relationship, and spiritual issues. Whether you’re working with a psychologist, therapist, or psychiatrists, your goal is to overcome the mental health concern and take control of your life.

A mental health professional should have specific training and experience in their specialty area. Some specialize in areas like family therapy, substance misuse, and depression. Here are the types of mental health professionals.


A psychiatrist is a medical professional who diagnoses, evaluates, and treats patients with mental problems. To pursue this area of mental health, you should have an osteopathic medicine degree or doctor of medicine degree. 

After the medical training, one should have at least four years of experience working at a psychiatric unit of a hospital.

This exposes the professional to a variety of patients with emotional difficulties, behavioral problems, and other disorders. 

Besides that, the medical doctor must have a basic understanding of psychology to help influence a patient’s behavior with less medication.

A psychiatrist must have excellent communication skills. Some states require that you have a high degree of emotional intelligence to formulate the best course of action for treatment. 

Unlike other fields in mental health, the treatment regimen can change significantly. But what matters most is the psychological and emotional support to help patients improve the symptoms. 


Psychiatrists can treat a variety of mental disorders in the following specialties:

  • – Learning disabilities
  • -Adolescents and children
  • – Forensic psychiatry


A psychologist is a trained doctor who specializes in psychological counseling and mental health disorders that affect the emotions, thoughts, and behaviors of patients. 

They work in mental health clinics, hospitals, government offices, schools, or private practices.

Psychologists listen to their patients and assess the situation on how they are functioning mentally, emotionally, and intellectually. 

Their main goal is to identify the root cause of the problem and how they can deal with them effectively.

To be a certified psychologist, you should hold a doctorate or master’s degree in psychology (6 years of training). Additionally, such professionals require special training in the diagnosis of mental problems. 

They can help people with conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and severe depression.


This practice follows the theory of Sigmund Freud. It helps to deal with anxiety, unconscious impulses, and internal conflicts. 

A psychoanalyst uses techniques like dream interpretation, free association, and analysis of transference. This area of mental health has many critics. 

Some people believe that these emotional disturbances can create patterns of bad behavior even without you realizing it. 

Because this area of mental is not recognized by federal law, you should be careful when choosing the services of such people.


A psychotherapist helps you deal with behavioral, emotional, and mental issues that cause unhappiness. More specifically, they offer `talking therapy’ to their patients to improve mental health. 

The most common type of therapy is cognitive-behavioral therapy. It helps a person change negative thought patterns and behaviors.

Psychiatric nurse

A psychiatric nurse deals with people experiencing mental illness or distress. He or she works closely with patients to help them live a productive life. Before the nurses perform therapy, they must work under the close supervision of a doctor.

Psychiatric nurses can work in many environments including hospitals, healthcare organizations, schools, and outpatient mental health organizations. To become a psychiatric nurse, you need a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Addiction counselor

Addition counselors help individuals overcome behaviors like alcohol, drug abuse, and gambling. They work with patients and close family members to assist in the healing process. 

These professionals can also work with inpatient rehabilitation centers, outpatient facilities, and hospitals. The counseling sessions are usually done in a group setting.

The professional will first assess what caused the addiction and then creates a long-term plan to sustain sobriety. 

Other roles of counselors include general assessment, conducting one-on-one therapy sessions, and developing an aftercare plan.

Depending on where you practice, the state may require that you have a master’s degree or its equivalent. Apart from professional qualifications, an addiction counselor must have a passion to overcome their struggle.

Family/marriage counselor

After marriage, each person brings his or her ideas, opinions, and values into the relationship. When there’re opposing views, there’re bound to be conflicts. 

A marriage counselor works with couples to resolve conflicts in their relationship. He will also help you navigate other problems like infidelity, anger management, conflicts about childbearing, physical/mental conditions, changing roles, etc. The counseling sessions are brief and are geared towards reaching out for quick solutions.

At the end of the sessions, the couple will learn how to communicate openly, discuss problems rationally, and solve problems together. 

A family therapist should have a master’s degree in counseling and hundreds of clinical hours of experience. But because the designation varies from one state to another, the qualifications may vary.

Religious counselor

Religious counselors help people deal with a variety of problems that focus on faith, marriage counseling, and mental/emotional problems. 

All these can be done from a spiritual perspective. A religious counselor holds a special place in the church and has extensive knowledge of spiritual matters.

Social worker

Social workers are dedicated to helping employees cope with the challenges they face in their lives including disabilities and other personal problems. What’s more, they help to address many problems like substance abuse and unemployment. 

A social worker with a bachelor’s degree can help in inpatient discharge planning services, case management, and placement services for individuals. 

Those at the master’s level can help in the treatment of psychiatric illness. The sub-types of social work can include:

  • – Public and medical health
  • – Family and school

Art Therapist

An art therapist helps someone boost creativity in sculpture, painting, and writing to overcome traumatic events and medical illnesses. This type of therapy ensures patients can express their thoughts.

Training of a mental health worker

The training required will depend on the specific mental health you practice in. For instance, psychiatrists require a medical degree while psychologists require a Ph.D. 


When looking for a mental health professional, you should collect background information like:

  • – Clinical experience
  • – Postgraduate, masters, or doctorate
  • – State license
  • – published articles

Who should you choose?

If you’re not sure whether to choose a therapist or psychologist, there’re a few things you should look at. You should pay attention to specialty, training, availability, and convenience. 

Don’t hesitate to ask questions like years of practice and the insurance company they work with. If you’re comfortable working with the professional, the next step is to book an appointment.

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