Definitions of mental health professionals

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Community Leader
Registered: 10-10-2007
Definitions of mental health professionals
Tue, 06-25-2013 - 11:11am

Have you ever wondered what is the difference between a counselor or psychiatrist?  I tried to find some definitions of the different types of mental health type professionals:


The following definitions of mental health professionals are taken from the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs - Division of Registration.

Licensed Independent Clinical Social Workers, have a master's degree in social work (MSW) and additional supervised experiences. Social Workers are trained in psychotherapy and social work techniques. Generally, social work professionals provide counseling to individuals, couples, families and groups directed toward specific goals. Social workers who work in private agencies or independent practice must hold state licenses from the Board of Registration of Social Workers.

Psychologists may have a Ph.D., Psy.D. or Ed.D degree, all of which are doctoral level credentials. Psychologists have received extensive training in research or in clinical psychology, with additional supervised experiences after they receive their degree. Psychologists may also have training in psychological and/or neuropsychological testing. Psychologists are licensed and their professional conduct is monitored by the Board of Registration of Psychologists.

Psychiatric Nurse Mental Health Clinical Specialists (CSs) are Registered Nurses with additional special education in mental health care. These advanced practice nurses may offer mental health care, which includes evaluative, diagnostic, consultative and therapeutic procedures as well as prescribing medications. Psychiatric Nurse Mental Health Clinical Specialists must hold a master's degree in mental health nursing, meet the Board of Registration in Nursing criteria for advanced practice and receive its authorization. These advanced practice nurses are also certified by the American Nurses Credentialing Center. The Board of Registration in Nursing licenses Registered Nurses.

Psychiatrists (M.D., D.O.) are licensed medical doctors who have chosen psychiatry as their residency, or specialization. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication and often practice some form of psychotherapy. Psychiatrists may be Board certified in psychiatry and/or child psychiatry. Licensing is provided by the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine and professional conduct is monitored by the American Psychiatric Association, as well as by the state Board of Medicine.

Licensed Mental Health Counselors, or L.M.H.C.s, hold a master's degree from a graduate program in the field. They may render mental health care services to individuals, families or groups. L.M.H.C.s use therapeutic techniques to define goals and develop treatment plans aimed toward prevention, treatment and resolution of mental and emotional dysfunction. Mental Health Counselors are licensed by the Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professionals, which also monitors professional conduct.