For anyone who does not have experience with the mental health field, and even for those who do, the options can be quite confusing. In fact, I often find myself correcting my family members when they are telling others what I do! There are several different professions within the field, all of which focus on different issues and are able to perform different responsibilities. You may find that you need the help of more than one type of professional for the problems you are seeking help with. I will give brief explanations of each in order for you to be able to determine where you should start in your search for help.
Psychologist– A psychologist holds a doctorate degree. They may have different areas of specialty but typically they do more testing and assessments on individuals to help diagnosis problems.
Psychiatrist– A psychiatrist is an M.D. that works with individuals that have mental health disorders. They are able to prescribe medication and although they are trained to conduct therapy as well, you can typically expect a psychiatrist to diagnosis and provide medication management. If you would like to try medication as part of treatment, please see a psychiatrist about this instead of your family doctor.
Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC)- An LMHC is a master’s level* counselor that specializes in mental health disorders. They help individuals with different types of talk therapy, play therapy, and behavioral therapies among others.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)- An LMFT is a master’s level* therapist that has additional training in relationships and the impact relationships have on an individual’s mental health and vice versa. An LMFT is your best choice for marriage counseling, high conflict families, and when one person’s problems have impacted other family members. Marriage and family therapists rely less on diagnoses and focus more on the system and environment the person lives in.
In my next post I will be discussing the differences between Social Workers, Life Coaches, , and Behavior Analysts as well as explain what it means to be a registered intern in the state of Florida.
*A masters degree is required but some individuals may hold higher degrees.