Types of Therapists SPS
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TYPES OF THERAPISTS

Mental health therapists offer services for the purpose of alleviating mental health symptoms and increasing quality of life. This broad category includes psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, and mental health counselors. These professionals often deal with the same mental health issues and stressors. The most significant difference between mental health professionals are the laws regarding required education and training across the various professions. All of the following professionals are qualified to provide psychotherapy, however, the types of services offered beyond that can vary by profession. 

Psychiatrists are physicians and one of the few professionals in the mental health industry who specialize and are certified in treating mental illness using the biomedical approach, including the use of medications. While many psychiatrists practice only medicine, there are some psychiatrists that provide therapy. Psychiatrists will have a credentialing of “M.D.” after their names.

Psychologists study and apply psychology for the purpose of understanding, preventing, and relieving psychologically-based distress or dysfunction and to promote personal development. There are several types of psychologists, including clinical psychologists, counseling psychologists, health psychologists and school psychologists. Psychologists are also trained to perform testing evaluations.  Most psychologists have a Doctorate degree, although others may have a Masters degree. Psychologists’ credentials state “LP” behind their level of education (PhD, PsyD, MA).

Clinical social workers may work within counseling and psychotherapy, case management, or social policy/social change. Clinical social workers often view individuals and their functioning as part of a system interacting with their environment, all of which are areas of intervention. Clinical social workers have a Master’s degree or higher; their credentials state “LICSW” behind their names.

Marriage and Family Therapists work with families and couples to nurture change and cultivate development. Often, they tend to view change in terms of the systems of interaction between family members, and emphasize family relationships as an important factor in psychological health. Marriage and family therapists have a Master’s degree or higher, but have not received training in testing evaluations. Marriage and family therapists have “LMFT” listed after their names.

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