Types of Professionals

professionalsChoosing the right type of professional is obviously important. The main distinction between the different types of therapists has to do with schools of thought and where they believe problems stem from. They have also met different requirements in the areas of education, years’ experience, and licensure. Read below to understand the specific differences between the different types of professionals in the field.


Psychiatrists are physicians, medical doctors, (M.D. or D.O.) who specialize in mental health and disorders. Psychiatrists can evaluate, diagnose, and treat all types of psychological problems associated with medical disorders. They can prescribe medication and also implement psychotherapy treatment.

Clinicians/Clinical Social Workers:

Clinicians or clinical social workers, (LICSW or LCSW) have a master’s or doctoral degree in social work, at least two years of post-graduate experience in a supervised clinical setting, and have met licensure requirements for their state. They can treat individuals, families, and groups in a variety of settings using psychotherapy to resolve problems. Social workers typically have skills to advocate for clients within the community, make referrals, and engage in community action to advocate on the legislative level.


Psychologists (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) have a doctoral degree and are licensed in clinical psychology. They have special training and have met requirements for completing a professional licensure examination. Psychologists can have backgrounds and expertise in community organization, testing and laboratory research, and industrial relations. They can treat individuals, families, or groups in a variety of settings using psychotherapy to resolve problems.

Marriage and Family Therapists:

Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) have a Master’s degree, two years of supervised post-degree experience, and clinical experience in marriage and family therapy. They have met licensure for their state requirements as counselors to treat individuals, families, and groups using psychotherapy.

Professional Counselors:

Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) or Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) have at least a master’s degree, two years of supervised clinical experience, and have received licensure  for their state requirements. In states without licensure or certification laws, professional counselors are certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). Counselors provide therapy to individuals, families, groups and organizations. They typically treat using a variety of therapeutic techniques and approaches.

Psychiatric Nurses:

Psychiatric nurses work to assist in preventing and treating problematic areas in mental health. They are registered professional nurses who have degrees at the master’s degree level or above. With training, they can obtain their (APRNs), or Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, license, which grants them the right to practice independently to assist clients with their mental health needs. In most states, psychiatric nurses in advanced practice have the right to prescribe medication.