Types of Mental Health Professionals
The two main types of professionals who treat psychological problems are psychiatrists and psychotherapists. Psychiatrists are medical doctors (they have the letters M.D. after their names) who specialize in treating mental illness and who can prescribe psychiatric medication. Psychotherapists are professionals who provide psychotherapy (or ‘talk therapy’). Psychotherapists may be psychologists, social workers, counselors, nurses, family and marital therapists, or some other profession.
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Psychologists are professionals who have doctoral degrees in psychology. The initials after their names will be Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy in Psy- chology) or Psy.D. (Doctor of Psychology). If they are licensed in a state to practice psychotherapy you may also see the letters LP after their names (for Licensed Psychologist). Social workers are professionals who have master’s degrees in Social Work (indicated by the initials MSW after the name). If they are licensed to practice psycho- therapy independently you will see the letters LCSW after the name (Licensed Clinical Social Worker). If social workers are working under
supervision toward full licensure the initials will be LSW, for Licensed Social Worker. Counselors are professionals who have master’s degrees in Counseling or Counseling Psychology (initials M.S. after the name). If licensed by a state to practice psychotherapy independently they will have the initials LPC after the name, for Licensed Professional Counselor. If they are working toward such licensure under supervision the initials will be LAC, for Licensed Associate Counselor.
Thomas B. Hollenbach, Ph.D.
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