Types of Mental Health Therapists
For our purposes, all mental health therapists help people deal with emotional and psychological reactions to living after a diagnosis of a life-changing condition.
Differences among the different types of therapists relate to the type and amount of education and experience. Differences in approach relate more to a professional's training and beliefs than to the type of therapist a person is.
- A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who has completed medical school, internship and residency requirements who specializes in the mental aspects of illness.
- A psychiatrist can prescribe medication and may have admitting privileges with a hospital.
- A psychologist is a licensed mental health professional who has completed an advanced degree in psychology that usually includes clinical training and internships. Psychologists are either have a Masters degree or are Doctors of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
- Psychologists cannot prescribe medication.
- Social Workers
- A social worker is a professional with a college degree who is trained to talk with people and their families about emotional and physical needs. Social workers have training and expertise in finding support services and financial assistance.
- There are social workers who specialize in helping people with particular diseases, such as HIV or cancer. Social workers who specialize in cancer are known as Oncology Social Workers.
- Social workers cannot prescribe medications
- Counselors are therapists with the least amount of education and training.
- Counselors cannot prescribe medications.