Mental Health

A Look at Different Types of Mental Health Providers

By Lisa Smusz, MS, LPCC, and Megan Sapigao

Mental health care is a world with many different types of providers, who all provide different forms of therapy and support. All can be very helpful, but understanding the differences between each may help you make better decisions about what kind of support you need. Let’s take a look at the different types of mental health providers.

Psychiatrist :

A Psychiatrist is a Medical Doctor who specifically treats patients for their mental health. Because they are doctors, psychiatrists can prescribe medications in most states. 

Psychologist :

A Psychologist looks at environmental, economic, social, and other factors that are contributing to a person’s mental health conditions. Psychologists often work in private practice settings, community based organizations, public agencies, academic institutions, healthcare settings, or business settings

Social Workers:

Social work focuses on improving the lives of individuals, groups, communities and society as a whole. Here are some different kinds of social workers:

  • Clinical Social Worker - focuses on diagnosing and treating emotional problems.
  • Direct Service Social Worker - helps people obtain needs like food, housing, and jobs.
  • Research Social Worker - conducts research to help with community improvement.

You can find social workers in many different settings, including private practices, hospitals, schools, universities, substance abuse programs, community centers, and non-profit organizations.

Marriage & Family Therapists and Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors:

These mental health providers provide counseling therapy, and are often called “therapists.” Therapists provide services in settings such as private practices or mental health clinics. Therapists help clients with a wide range of mental health problems, such as depression , anxiety , stress, workplace concerns, or relationship and family issues.

Understanding the different types of mental health providers is an important step to finding someone who works well with you. Choosing a mental health provider can feel like a lot, especially if you are new to therapy. For help, check out our tips for finding a therapist that works best for you in this article.  You can also get more information on the different types of therapy available from this article.