Valiant Living Blog

Types of Mental Health Providers

Written by Valiant Living Recovery on Friday, January 8th, 2021

Are you looking for a new therapist? Is your mind boggled by how many different titles therapists have? Are you not sure which one to choose based on their credentials? 

These are common questions new clients have swirling around their heads during their search. When seeking out mental healthcare, it is common to get confused by all your options. This overview of the different types of mental health providers should help you better understand what types of care are provided based on licensure and which communities are serviced. As a point of reference, there are at least nine common titles you may see for providers of mental health care: 

Types of Therapists: 

LPC: A licensed professional counselor is a master’s level clinician who has completed a certain number of supervised hours which varies by state. Their training tends to be more focused on the individual. As of now, these providers cannot accept Medicare but there is pending legislation that may change that. Other names for LPCs include LCPCs or LCMHCs. Therapists cannot prescribe medications except for some who are specially trained in New Mexico and Louisiana, but therapists continue to fight for that right.

LMHC: A licensed mental health counselor is the LPC equivalent in the following states: Florida, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, and Washington.

LCSW: A licensed clinical social worker is a master’s level clinician who has completed a certain number of supervised hours which varies by state. Their training tends to be broad in scope, covering the individual, family, and society at large. They can take Medicare and Medicaid. 

LMFT: A licensed marriage and family therapist is a master’s level clinician who has completed a certain number of supervised hours which varies by state. Their training covers individuals, couples, and families. As of now, these providers cannot accept Medicare but there is pending legislation that may change that. 

Psychologists:

PsyD: A licensed clinical psychologist is a doctorate level clinician who has completed graduate training with an emphasis on clinical practice. Their training tends to focus on the individual and most insurance companies reimburse these providers at a higher rate. They can take Medicare and Medicaid. They can prescribe medications in some states.

Ph.D.: A licensed research psychologist is a doctorate level clinician who has completed graduate training with an emphasis on research. Their training tends to focus on the individual and most insurance companies reimburse these providers at a higher rate. They can take Medicare and Medicaid. They can prescribe medications in some states.

Medication Prescribers:

NP: A licensed psychiatric nurse practitioner is a clinician with advanced training in the prescribing of medications. In several states, nurse practitioners can work and prescribe medications independently, but in others, they must work directly under a doctor. They have completed either a master’s or doctoral program in the study of overall human physiology with a later emphasis on psychiatric concerns. Their training focuses on medication management and they take all forms of insurance.

MD: A licensed psychiatrist is a doctorate level clinician with advanced training in the prescribing of medications. They attend four years of medical school and then complete a three to four-year residency with significant time in the hospital setting. Their training focuses on medication management and they take all forms of insurance. Another title some psychiatrists hold is that of DO, for Doctor of Osteopathic medicine, which necessitates additional training in the practice of osteopathy during the education process. 

Knowledge is Power

With this knowledge of the various credentials, you can narrow down the provider you are looking to for help. However, we strongly recommend that you read the bios of the various providers either on Psychology Today or through their personal websites. Many providers have completed additional training outside their initial degree and offer specialized services accordingly. It is important to consider “fit” when looking for a new therapist as the first person you talk to may not be the best person to counsel you through life’s challenges. 

Whether you are struggling with addiction, marital problems, or another mental health condition, it is important you know what resources are available to you. There are several different access points in order to get care. To ensure you are taking the best path for you, remember these associations. Therapists offer a variety of techniques to encourage healthy coping mechanisms. Psychologists function very similarly to therapists, but also have a background in research. Medication prescribers are going to offer you medicinal treatment.

We strongly recommend that you take the time to seek out your own provider rather than relying on a close friend or family member. Each individual has unique preferences and characteristics that come with them into the therapy room. After all, you truly do know yourself best! Use that to your advantage when seeking out mental healthcare. 

There are several different types of mental health providers, some with prescription authority, some without. Some can accept Medicare, some can’t, and some it varies by state. There are therapists, psychologists, and medication prescribers who can help you with the therapy and the medications you may need for your substance abuse and any concurrent mental health issues, but it’s hard for the average person to understand who does what. A few therapists have prescription authority in certain states with specialized training, but that right is usually left to more advanced clinicians. Regardless of the title or capabilities of your provider, it is essential to have a relationship founded on trust. Valiant Living offers comprehensive treatment and residential support in Denver, Colorado. We provide a stable, nurturing environment designed to ease your transition into recovery, and our expert staff brings a personalized approach to helping you build your new, healthy future. Call us at (303) 952-5035 to learn more.