Defined: Types of Mental Health Professionals, Psychological Counseling, and Psychotherapy

By The BroglieBox Team
5 min read

Types of Professionals

What is a Psychiatrist?
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (M.D. or D.O.) who specializes in preventing, diagnosing, and treating mental illness. They are trained to differentiate mental health problems from other underlying medical conditions that could present with psychiatric symptoms. They also monitor the effects of mental illness on other physical conditions. As a doctor, a psychiatrist is licensed to write prescriptions. Sometimes medication alone is enough to treat the mental illness. Sometimes a combination of medication and psychotherapy or counseling is needed. If that is the case, the psychiatrist may provide the psychotherapy, or the psychiatrist may refer you to a counselor or other type of mental health professional.

What is a Psychologist?
A psychologist has a doctoral degree (PhD, PsyD, or EdD) in psychology, which is the study of the mind and behaviors. Licensed psychologists are qualified to do counseling and psychotherapy, perform psychological testing, and provide treatment for mental disorders. They are not, though, medical doctors. That means that, with the exception of a few states, psychologists cannot write prescriptions or perform medical procedures. Often a psychologist will work in association with a psychiatrist or other medical doctor who provides the medical treatment for mental illness while the psychologist provides the psychotherapy.

What is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor?
A psychological counselor is a mental health professional who has a master’s degree (MA) in psychology, counseling, or a related field. A mental health counselor is qualified to evaluate and treat mental problems by providing counseling or psychotherapy.

What is a Clinical Social Worker?
A clinical social worker has at least a master’s degree in social work and training to be able to evaluate and treat mental illnesses. In addition to psychotherapy, social workers can provide case management and hospital discharge planning as well as work as an advocate for patients and their family.

What is a Psychiatric or Mental Health Nurse?
Some nurses have had special training in providing mental health services. In some states, they are also licensed to prescribe and monitor medications, sometimes independently and sometimes under the supervision of a medical doctor.

Psychological Counseling and Psychotherapy

What is Counseling?
Although the terms counseling and therapy are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between psychotherapy and psychological counseling. Counseling focuses on specific issues and is designed to help a person address a particular problem, such as addiction and stress/anxiety management. The focus may be on problem solving or on learning specific techniques for coping with or avoiding problem areas. Counseling is also usually more short-term than therapy.

What is Psychotherapy?
This is more long-term than counseling and focuses on a broader range of issues. The underlying principle is that a person’s patterns of thinking and behavior affect the way that person interacts with the world. Depending on the specific type of psychotherapy that is being used, the goal is to help people feel better equipped to manage stresses, understand patterns in their behavior that may interfere with reaching personal goals, have more satisfying relationships, and better regulate their thinking and emotional responses to stressful situations.

There are numerous approaches to psychotherapy, also called talk therapy, from which mental health professionals draw their treatment practices. According to the American Psychological Association, those approaches fall into five broad categories and can be used to specifically treat a variety of diagnosis:
1) Psychoanalytic or psychodynamic therapies
2) Behavioral therapy
3) Cognitive therapy
4) Humanistic therapy
5) Integrative or holistic therapy


BroglieBox, LLC is not a licensed therapy service. BroglieBox, LLC is not intended to replace professional treatment. 

At this time, we can recommend the below resources: 
Talk Space or Better Help (Online/Virtual Therapy)
The Buddy Project (For loneliness and peer support)
Crisis Text Line (For Depression and Self Harm)
Suicide Prevention Hotline (For Self Harm and Suicide Prevention)

Light Therapy (Mayo Clinic)

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