Mental Health Professionals

People know where to go when they are physically ill. If they have an eye problem, they will go see an ophthalmologist. If they have a digestion problem, they will go see an internist. But where should we go when we have psychological problems? There are many professionals who work in the mental health field. Knowing the differences between mental health professionals will help you to find the right professional for you.

Psychiatrist : Psychiatrists are medical doctors who went to medical school and completed their training. They know the physio-biological effects of medication and help the patient to get better using specific medications targeted for specific symptoms. Therefore, the psychiatrist’s main focus of treatment is medication.

Psychologist : A psychologist is a person who has a PhD or PsyD in psychology. Since there are many sub-majors in psychology (industrial psychology, educational psychology, clinical psychology to name a few), not all psychologists work in the mental health field. Psychologists who work in the mental health field are usually people who majored in clinical psychology and who use a psychological test as the main focus of their work.

Psychotherapist : A psychotherapist is a general term for people who practice psychotherapy. In New York, only individuals who have an Master of Arts (M.A.) or higher degree in the mental health field and fulfill state-required clinical hours, supervision and pass the test can call themselves a psychotherapist.

Psychoanalyst  : A psychoanalyst already had a license in the mental health field, but pursues further training to understand peoples minds and behaviors in more depth and integratively. In order to be a psychoanalyst, a person has to finish extensive course work, fulfill supervision hours, and clinical hours and undergo personal analysis which takes at least four years.