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Types of Mental Health Professionals & Who Can Help You

finding a mental health professional

Which type of mental health professional is right for me? There are many types of mental health professionals, and finding the right one to help you recover from anxiety, depression, or any other disorder is crucial. As a Pompano Beach treatment center that offers mental health care for all kinds of conditions, we understand the importance of connecting patients with the appropriate specialists. To help you in your journey to finding treatment, we’re sharing a list of different kinds of mental health professionals.


List of Different Types of Mental Health Professionals

Finding the right mental health professional can help you regain control of your health and life. We’ve pulled together the basic information you need to know about the different types of mental health professionals out there to determine which might be the right fit for you.



The word psychologist is usually the first one that comes to mind when people think of mental health care or therapy. Many people imagine someone lying on a leather couch telling the doctor about their feelings. While that does sometimes happen, psychologists do a lot more than just ask how you’re feeling.

Psychologists are mental health professionals that hold degrees in clinical psychology or another specialty such as counseling or education. They’re trained to evaluate a person’s mental health using clinical interviews, psychological evaluations, and testing.

Psychologists can also make diagnoses and provide individual and group therapy to patients and their loved ones. Specific forms of therapy psychologists may train to administer can include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and other behavioral therapy interventions.

  • Degree requirements: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in a field of psychology or Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.).
  • Licensure & credentials: State license.



Psychiatrists are licensed medical doctors who have completed psychiatric training. They can diagnose mental health disorders, prescribe and monitor medication, and they can provide therapy. Some have also completed additional training in child and adolescent mental health care, addiction therapy, and geriatric psychiatry. Psychiatrists may also practice forensic psychiatry or treat individuals with learning disabilities.

  • Degree requirements: Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO), as well as completion of residency training in psychiatry.
  • Licensure & credentials: State license. They may also be designated as Board Certified Psychiatrists by the Board of Neurology and Psychiatry.



A psychoanalyst follows the theories and practices of Sigmund Freud, focusing on helping patients explore repressed or unconscious impulses, anxieties, and internal conflicts. Psychoanalysts may treat patients with techniques like free association, dream interpretation, and analysis of resistance and transference. While many are critical of this practice, psychoanalysis has helped some explore deep psychological and emotional disturbances that could or have contributed to harmful patterns of behavior, such as substance abuse or self-harm.

Unfortunately, the title and credentials of a psychoanalyst are not protected by federal or state law, meaning that anyone can call themselves a psychoanalyst and advertise their services as such. Be careful in selecting one if you’re interested in this kind of treatment.



A psychotherapist is a general term for many types of mental health professionals, including psychologists and therapists, all of whom provide psychotherapy. Psychotherapy is also known as talk therapy and is designed to improve clients’ mental health and well-being by “walking” them through various scenarios, past experiences, and emotions.

There are several types of psychotherapy, including talk therapy, group therapy, expressive therapy, and more. The most popular kind of psychotherapy, however, is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps patients learn how to change bad or negative behaviors, thought patterns, and emotional reactions.

  • Degree requirements: Master’s degree in majors like social work, psychology, mental health counseling, or counseling psychology.
  • Licensure & credentials: RN licensure and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Certification (PMH-BC).


Psychiatric Nurse

Psychiatric nurses are registered nurses (RNs) who specialize in mental health treatment. They’re known for their therapeutic relationships with their patients. Psychiatric nurses operate under the supervision of a medical doctor and perform psychological therapy and administer psychiatric medication.

  • Degree requirements: Either an Associate's degree in nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).
  • Licensure & credentials: RN licensure and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Certification (PMH-BC).



A mental health counselor is a master-level healthcare professional that’s trained to evaluate a person’s mental health and use therapeutic techniques based on specific training programs. Counselors operate under various job titles and may practice different forms of counseling. Some common types of counselors include family and couples counselors, pastoral counselors, and more.

  • Degree requirements: Master’s degree (MS or MA) in a mental health-related field such as psychology, counseling psychology, or marriage or family therapy.
  • Licensure & Certification: Varies by specialty and state. Examples of licensure include Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), and Licensed Clinical Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counselor (CADAC).


Social Worker

Clinical social workers are trained to evaluate an individual’s mental health and use therapeutic techniques based on specific training. They’re also trained in case management and advocacy services. Social workers are dedicated to helping people cope with various issues in their lives, including personal problems and disabilities.

Social workers can be public employees, or they may work in hospitals, high schools, universities, and as therapists, depending on their licensing. Social workers are also often used in family disputes that involve child abuse or domestic violence. Mental health and substance use are just a few of the types of social work.

  • Degree requirements: Master’s degree in social work (MSW).
  • Licensure & credentials: Examples of licensure include Licensed Independent Clinical Social Workers (LICSW), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), and Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW).


What Type of Mental Health Professional Do I Need?

There are various factors to consider when choosing a mental health care provider, including:


  • Your condition: Most mental health providers treat a wide range of disorders, but one who has the training to specialize in your condition may be better suited to your needs.
  • Whether you need medication: Some mental health providers aren’t licensed to prescribe medication (psychologist vs. psychiatrist), which means your choice may depend on the root causes of your condition and the severity of your symptoms. For instance, a person who’s developed PTSD may be able to pinpoint an exact situation that led to it, while someone with depression may struggle with a chemical imbalance.
  • Your health insurance coverage: Your insurance policy may have a list of specific mental health providers who are covered or may only cover certain types of mental health providers. Check ahead of time to find out whether the mental health services you’re seeking are covered by your insurance.


With these factors in mind, here are some tips for finding a mental health provider:


  • Ask your health insurance company for a list of covered providers.
  • Seek a referral or recommendation from your primary care provider.
  • Ask trusted friends, family, or clergy.
  • Ask for a referral from or see if your company's employee assistance program (EAP) or student health center offers mental health services.
  • Search online through directories by professional associations, such as the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the American Psychological Association (APA), or the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT).
  • Check phone book listings or search the internet according to categories like community service numbers, counselors, psychologists, psychiatrists, or social service organizations.


Our Pompano Beach drug rehab also offers Florida mental health care that includes various forms of therapy and is led by a team of various providers who are here to help. We conduct a full mental health assessment to determine the best course of treatment for you.

In addition to their specialty and insurance, other things to consider when choosing a mental health care provider include:


  • Education, training, and licensure
  • Their specialty and specific services they offer
  • Treatment approaches
  • Which insurance providers do they work with
  • Office hours, fees, and length of sessions


When you do decide on a specialist, don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to. If you don’t feel like it’s the right fit, keep searching. It’s important that you find a specialist who understands you and your situation.


Finding Mental Health Treatment

With the various facilities and types of licensed mental health professionals out there, choosing one can be difficult. If you’re interested in mental health care and don’t know where to start, our admissions center can help.


Call Banyan Treatment Centers today at 888-280-4763 or give us your contact information to learn more about our addiction and mental health treatment in Pompano and how we can help you recover.


Related Reading:

Fun Activities to Improve Your Mental Health

Best Emotional Support Animals for Mental Health

Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.