Types of Mental Health Providers
Psychiatrists: These are medical doctors who are trained to treat psychiatric conditions. Because they are able to prescribe medications, psychiatrists are often a good choice for those who need special attention given to medication management. Most insurance companies pay for a portion of these services.
Psychologists: Generally, psychologists go through a four-year clinical training program after college. They often specialize in research and psychological testing. Many, however, also provide traditional “talk therapy.” They do not prescribe medications. Typically you would seek out a psychologist for neuropsychological testing. Most insurance companies pay for a portion of these services.
Social Workers: Usually social workers attend an additional two-to-three years of graduate training to obtain an MSW (Master of Social Work). Those who wish to continue into clinical private practice must complete two more years of supervised training to obtain an LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) designation. Traditionally, social workers take a holistic approach to treatment, considering environment, family, and psycho- social issues. Social workers do not prescribe medication. Most insurance companies pay for a portion of the services provided by an LCSW.
Counselors: Several types of counselors offering specific services are available. These include mental health counselors, marriage and family counselors, psychiatric nurse clinicians, as well as addiction counselors. Psychological treatment approaches vary widely between these professionals. Often these practitioners have completed a master’s degree. They may not, however, consistently qualify for insurance reimbursement nor do they prescribe medication. Patients may discuss these issues with their counselor to ensure that both their financial and medical needs are being met.