Making the decision to see a mental health professional can be difficult. Sometimes people are unsure whether they are truly in need of help; other times, the stigma attached with seeking help can make people fear that they might be “crazy” or that others will look down on them. The truth is that seeing a professional can dramatically improve your quality of life, because there are times when all of us could use some extra help in order to feel like ourselves again.
Finding the right counselor for you can be a tricky process, so here are some helpful points to remember during your search:
- There are many different types of mental health professionals, so finding one can be confusing. They are, in short: 1) psychiatrists—medical doctors (MD) who primarily prescribe medication for treatment. Some, but not most, also engage in talk therapy; 2) psychologists—usually a doctoral-level provider (PhD) who provides counseling, psychotherapy, and assessment, but typically does not prescribe medication (this does vary state-to-state, however); 3) licensed clinical social worker (LCSW), licensed professional counselors (LPC), and licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFT), all of whom have a master’s degree in their respective area and provide counseling and psychotherapy; and 4) primary care providers, who, while not actually a mental health provider, often prescribe psychiatric medications.