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Finding the Right Mental Health Professional: A Guide for Choosing the Best Fit


Looking for the right mental health professional is a personal decision that requires careful consideration of different factors, such as the mental health professional's style, personality, education, and experience. The key is finding someone you can connect with and trust because that will help you grow and heal.


To make things easier, let me break down the top three categories of mental health professionals for you:


A psychiatrist is a medical doctors who specialize in mental health. They're highly trained to assess and diagnose both the mental and physical aspects of psychological problems. In addition, their primary function is to prescribe and monitor medication. However, it's important to note that their education differs greatly from that of a therapist. If you need someone to talk to, a therapist might be a better fit for you.


A psychologist is a caring professional who has earned a doctorate in clinical psychology or a related field. They specialize in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating psychological issues, and their emphasis on research and testing. While psychologists do not prescribe medication, they are trained to conduct all aspects of psychological testing and psychotherapy.


If you're considering therapy, it's important to know that a mental health therapist, such as a psychotherapist or counselor, is someone who has dedicated their life to helping others. They have received advanced training and possess a master's degree in clinical psychology or a related field. Their primary goal is to provide psychotherapy and help you work through your challenges in a confidential and supportive environment. Although therapists cannot prescribe medication, they can offer you valuable guidance and support. The titles LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor), LMSW (Licensed Master Social Worker), and LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) are some of the titles that fall under the therapist/psychotherapist/counselor umbrella. Whether you're seeking individual, family, or couple's therapy, a therapist can be a great choice for you.


It is not uncommon to utilize a therapist and a psychiatrist. Medication alone can be seen as a quick fix but it won’t teach coping skills and it won’t heal trauma. There is no such thing as a “happy pill”. On the other hand, medication is sometimes needed so a person can fully benefit from psychotherapy.

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