You should really see a...

You should really see a...

Author: Dr. David Cooper is a psychologist at the National Center for Telehealth & Technology.


When someone is looking for psychological health treatment there are a variety of choices in terms of who to see and for what. Here is a quick guide to understanding the difference between types of clinical providers.


Physician: Your primary care physician (M.D. or D.O.) is the first person to engage in treatment for many mental health issues. They may provide medication to address short term problems, like insomnia resulting from a sudden stressful event. However, many have not been trained in treating psychological health and typically have limited amounts of time they can spend with patients to address these kinds of concerns.


Psychiatrist: Psychiatrists (M.D.) are physicians who have trained specifically to treat psychological health issues. They are medical specialists who typically prescribe medications for mental health problems like depression, anxiety and many other psychological conditions.


Psychologist: Psychologists (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) are providers having a doctoral degree in clinical psychology who can offer a wide range of mental health services including counseling, psychotherapy, and psychological testing including evaluations of memory and diagnosis of mental health conditions.


Neuropsychologist: These psychologists (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) have had specialty training in brain science as well as psychological health. They will typically see patients for testing in order to evaluate and diagnose a brain injury or to provide counseling and therapy related to neurological issues.


Social Worker: Social workers (L.C.S.W.) usually have master’s degrees with specialized clinical training to provide counseling for many psychological issues. They are also frequently knowledgeable and can provide assistance regarding a wide range of community resources.


Counselors: Counselors (M.F.T., L.P.C. or L.M.H.C.) usually have master’s degrees with specialized training in counseling and can provide assistance for a wide variety of psychological issues.

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