The first person to talk with may
be your family healthcare provider. This is to find out if your symptoms may be caused
by health conditions. If a health condition is not the cause, your provider may be able
to suggest a mental health provider.
The mental health provider you
choose should be licensed by your state. These are the types of professionals who
provide mental health services:
Psychiatrist. A psychiatrist
is a doctor and a medical healthcare provider with at least 4 years of specialized
study and training in psychiatry after medical school. Psychiatrists can provide
medical and psychiatric evaluations, treat disorders, provide psychotherapy, and
prescribe and monitor medicines.
Psychologist. A psychologist
has a master's degree in psychology or a doctoral degree in clinical, educational,
counseling, or research psychology. Psychologists do psychological testing and
evaluations. They are also trained to treat emotional and behavioral problems and
mental disorders. And they provide psychotherapy and behavior modification.
Psychologists can't prescribe or monitor medicines.
Social worker. A social
worker has a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree and is licensed to practice
social work. A licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) can assess and treat
psychiatric illnesses and do psychotherapy. They don't prescribe or monitor
Psychiatric or mental health
nurse. This is a specially trained nurse with a bachelor's, master's, or
doctoral degree. Mental health nurses can assess and treat illnesses. They do case
management and psychotherapy. In some states, some psychiatric nurses with
advanced training can prescribe and monitor medicine. They are called advanced
practice registered nurses or APRNs.
counselor. A counselor has a master's degree in psychology, counseling, or
a similar discipline and has postgraduate experience. Counselors may provide
services that include diagnosis and counseling. They don't prescribe or monitor
The cost of counseling services
depends on if you choose a public or community-based provider, or one in private
You may get medicines from a psychiatrist and psychotherapy from
another mental health provider (a psychologist or LCSW). If so, think about signing a
waiver of confidentiality. This lets the providers share your clinical information. This
clinical coordination helps ensure safe care. Know which provider you should call during