Understanding the Different Mental Health Professionals


Woman and DoctorLike any field of medicine, there are a large number of specializations within the realm of behavioral health. Researchers, doctors and specialists all serve different roles in the care and treatment of people’s mental health.

If you’re considering visiting a mental health professional, here is a short list of some that you may interact with.


A psychotherapist can take many forms, but is typically a mental health professional trained to help people experiencing difficult emotions or a challenging time in life. A psychotherapist could be a doctor or social worker, depending on their training and certification. They may work with single patients or with a group.


A psychiatrist is a mental health professional who has a medical degree. This enables them to prescribe medication. Some psychiatrists are called psychopharmacologists and specialize in providing medication treatment planning and management without other forms of therapy.


Psychologists are mental health professionals who have a PhD in psychology. Though they may engage in talk therapy with patients, psychologists also frequently concentrate on psychological research.

A psychologist that focuses on diagnosing and providing therapy to people is often referred to as a clinical psychologist.

Professional Counselor

A professional counselor is a mental health professional who is licensed or certified and trained to diagnose mental conditions and provide both individual and group counseling. They typically have a master’s degree in psychology or a related science.

Counselors often specialize to provide counseling to specific groups of people. Some counselors are able to help people with addictions, while others specialize in helping with grief or trauma.

Social Worker

A social worker can refer to a number of roles used to provide social services to people. A social worker in the mental health field refers to someone who typically focuses on providing therapy to people. However, social workers also often provide case management and advocacy services for their clients.