Looking at the list of mental health professionals, we easily get confused. How are psychiatrists and psychologists different? And what about a licensed mental health counselor? Besides, why does mental health care need social workers if that many specialists work in the field so far? Just as every physician practices in their own subfield, every mental health practitioner has their area of responsibility too.
Psychiatrists have a Doctor of Medicine degree and several years of medical practice at the very least. They are authorized to prescribe psychotropic drugs and capable to differentiate mental health problems from underlying medical conditions with similar symptoms. Psychiatrists work with patients who have severe mental conditions. Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, borderline personality disorder, anxiety, and stress-related disorders are all the expertise of a psychiatrist.
A psychologist has a doctoral degree in psychology that does not bring them as much responsibility as medical doctors have. Licensed psychologists do counseling and psychotherapy, though they neither write prescriptions nor perform medical procedures. That is why, they often work with doctors who can prescribe medications for patients with depression, anxiety, suicidal behavior, ADHD – the main concerns of a psychologist.
A mental health counselor is authorized to treat mental disorders with counseling or psychotherapy. They gave only a master’s degree in psychology but they also need a few years of practice with a qualified mental health professional to get a license after school.