A psychiatrist is a medical doctor with specialized training in psychiatry. This includes the study of psychology and behavior as well as the chemistry and physiology of the brain and medications that affect it. Psychiatrists have completed a pre-medical bachelor’s degree, four years of medical school, and a four year internship/residency program. Because they are medical doctors, psychiatrists can prescribe medications and order laboratory tests in addition to being trained in psychotherapy. When a psychiatrist is board certified it means he or she has been evaluated by The American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and has met their stringent requirements for certification.
A psychologist is a licensed professional that specializes in the study, treatment, and diagnosis of mind disorders and behaviors. There are many different types of psychologists, some specialize in researching and studying human or animal behaviors, others specialize in therapy and treatment of mental illness and disorders. The following are examples of types of psychologists: school psychologists, clinical psychologists, organizational psychologists, and counseling psychologists. Psychologists are normally described as either being research oriented (those who conduct research), or applied (those who apply the research via treatment or education). Psychologists must have completed a four year bachelor degree in psychology and then receive a masters degree or doctoral degree in the specialized area of psychology.
The difference between a psychiatrist and a psychologist is a psychologist does not have a medical degree and is not able to prescribe medications. However, both professions need to be certified and accredited with continuing research and education. Psychologists are specially trained, especially clinical psychologists, in all types of therapy and neurological testing.
Advanced Practice Nurse
Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) have a very large scope of practice. They are licensed to work in most settings, giving full healthcare to patients from primary care settings, to hospitals, to home healthcare. APRN’s are a registered nurse (RN) who achieves a post-graduate or masters level of education in nursing. There are four general areas that APRNs will advance to with continuing education: Nurse practitioners (NP), Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), and Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS). Depending on the level of education and the area of expertise, a APRN may be licensed to prescribe medications with the supervision of a Medical Doctor. APRNs assist in patient treatment, education, analysis, and collaborate with other types of providers to give patients the best treatment possible.
A psychiatric nurse is a nurse who specializes in treatment of mental illness such as depression, schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder and dementia. They are also trained in psychiatric therapies and administering psychiatric medications to patients. Training in therapies helps psychiatric nurses to not only help treat patients, but also teach patients and their families about what to expect with mental illness and how to support one another. A psychiatric nurse must take 4 years of undergraduate courses and then take the national examination for registered nurses. In addition a psychiatric nurse will take further training and courses in order to specialize in psychiatric treatment.
Clinical Social Worker
LCSW stands for Licensed Clinical Social Worker. LCSW’s are mental health professionals with at least a master’s degree in social work. They have undergone training in Guidance and Counseling, Human Services, Marriage and Family Counseling, Psychology, Sociology, Vocational/Disability Rehabilitation, Social Work, and related fields. They have completed a required internship, and a mandated number of supervised clinical hours in order to meet strict requirements for state licensure. State licensing boards license social workers. Social workers provide varied services in many different settings and at many different levels of care.
LPC stands for Licensed Professional Counselor. Professional Counselors have completed a graduate degree in counseling. They have undergone training in Guidance and Counseling, Marriage and Family Counseling, Psychology, Drug and Alcohol Counseling, and related fields. Their training includes a practicum and/or internship, and a mandated number of supervised clinical hours in order to meet strict requirements for state licensure.
Drug & Alcohol Counselor
Drug and alcohol counselors treat individuals who struggle with drug, alcohol, eating disorders and other addictions. They provide education, support and treatment for patients and their families who struggle daily with addiction. Many counselors treat patients in group settings, however treatment may also be done individually. Treatment consists of promoting abstinence, helping the patient develop skills, and identifying problem behaviors and changing them. Drug and alcohol counselors can be seen working in many different settings including hospitals, outpatient treatment facilities, prisons, private practices, and rehab facilities. Most states require drug and alcohol counselors to obtain a masters degree and become accredited by the national board of certified counselors.
Marriage & Family Therapist
Marriage and Family Therapists specialize in diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders, emotional distress, and behavioral problems. These individuals work with couples and families on issues such as communication, parenting skills, child behavioral problems, martial problems, and anxiety. They also assist couples and families on living with a mental disorder, a physical illness, or trauma or grief counseling. Individuals in this field are trained in psychotherapy and have a graduate level of education in marriage and family therapy, social work, or psychology. However, each states credential requirements are different and may require additional education.
A life coach is an individual who is trained to focus on assisting individuals in achieving goals and personal success in their lives. A life coach will help the individual by finding out what is most important to them, then help them come up with a plan on how to achieve it. Along the way the coach will be available to assist in overcoming challenges and giving the individual the empowerment to continue toward their goals. There is no formal education or degree needed to become a life coach. Life coaching focuses on the “now” and the future, continuously pushing the individual to go forward and not focus on the past.
Mental Health Technician
Mental health technicians, also known as mental health assistants or psychiatric technicians assist mental health professionals in treatment of patients with mental and behavioral health disorders. These individuals can be seen working in a variety of settings including hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient clinics, psychiatric hospitals and drug and alcohol treatment facilities. Mental health techs work with patients who are mentally ill, struggling with drug or alcohol addictions, patients with mental retardation (MR), or patients struggling with emotional distress. All treatment done by mental health technicians is overseen by registered nurses, medical doctors, or other mental health professionals. Mental health technicians must have experience working in the mental health field or have obtained a bachelors or associate degree in psychology, social work, or a related field.