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Mental Health Practitioners

Modern mental health care has changed a lot since the old movie cliché where the patient lies on a couch and vents while the doctor takes notes. Some people need talk therapy, some need prescription medicine, and some need both. Group therapy, in which people with a specific condition share their challenges and wins under the watchful eye of a trained facilitator, can offer insight and support. It’s essential to understand the different types of mental health professionals so you can find one who fits your needs, or those of your loved one.

Psychiatrists

Psychiatrists are licensed physicians who have completed a psychiatric residency. These specialists focus on the prevention, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of mental and behavioral disorders. They can prescribe medication and other medical treatment(s) as needed. Some psychiatrists offer talk therapy while others choose to specialize in psychopharmacology and see patients to prescribe or adjust medication.

Psychiatrists treat a variety of conditions including:

  • Anxiety
  • Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Body dysmorphia
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Mood disorders
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Postpartum depression
  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Substance use disorder

Treatment for these and other mental or behavioral health disorders is uniquely tailored to each patient and may involve a combination of treatment methods.

Psychologists

Psychologists hold advanced degrees (usually a PhD or PsyD) in psychology, the study of the human mind and its impact on behavior. They are trained to evaluate an individual’s mental health through testing, clinical interviews, and psychological evaluations. Psychologists can diagnose mental health issues and provide individual and group therapy. They cannot prescribe medication or medical treatment, but instead utilize psychological evaluations and talk therapy to help patients better cope with:

  • Anger issues
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Family and relationship issues
  • Grief and loss
  • Work or school performance issues
  • Obesity
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Postpartum depression
  • Stress management
  • Self-confidence
  • Unhealthy habits
  • Trauma

Counselors, Clinicians, Therapists

These healthcare professionals have a master’s degree in a mental health-related field such as counseling, marriage, or family therapy. They are trained to evaluate a person’s mental health. They also have been trained in a variety of specific therapeutic technique. They are not licensed to prescribe medication.

Clinical Social Workers

Clinical social workers are trained to evaluate a person’s mental health. Some have obtained training in particular therapeutic techniques. They also provide case management and advocacy and can connect patients with mental health programs and other resources that fit their needs and budget. They are not licensed to prescribe medication.

Psychiatric or Mental Health Nurse Practitioners

Psychiatric or mental health nurse practitioners are Registered Nurses (RNs) who have earned a Master of Science (MS) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in nursing with specialized focus on psychiatry. These nurses are licensed to assess, diagnose, and treat mental health conditions and substance abuse disorders.

In some states, they are also qualified to prescribe and monitor medications. Requirements also vary by state as to the degree of supervision necessary by a licensed psychiatrist. They are allowed to prescribe medication in California, but this varies by state.

Community Memorial Healthcare has psychiatrists and psychologists available at select locations across Ventura County.