What Are The Different Types Of Psychiatrists and Psychologists?

Written by Pam MS, NCSP | Fact checked by Psychology Dictionary staff 

When it comes to getting psychological treatment, there are a number of different approaches that you can take. This choice should be based on a combination of research on what is effective for your condition, what fits your insurance or price range, and what you are willing to do to get better. Here is a look at some of the different kinds of psychologists and psychiatrists available, and who they are best at treating:

Clinical Psychologist/Psychiatrist: A clinical scientist is doing the groundbreaking work to decide what new treatments might be effective for known conditions. They are often less expensive than other psychologists or psychiatrists, but their work is experimental, not always proven. You also may be part of a placebo group and not a treatment group. They may also run large psychiatric treatment centers where they prescribe healthy living routines for their patients and strive to help those who can leave and make others as healthy as possible while in inpatient care. If you are looking to find a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist, they can be found in hospitals and universities.

LMFT: This stands for a licensed marriage and family therapist. These may be psychiatrists or psychologists, but they are known for working with families to make their relationships better. Instead of focusing on a single person, they focus instead on the way that the family acts as a unit. In some cases, changing this dynamic is enough to not need additional therapy, while in other situations, it may help one or more family members realize that they need separate therapy and/or psychological medication.

Psychiatrist/Therapist: This is an individual therapist with a psychiatry degree. A psychiatry degree is a specialty of having an MD, and comes with the ability to prescribe medications. Psychiatrists are often necessary when someone has a chemical mental illness like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. They can make sure that both the therapeutic as well as the medication aspects of the disease are managed. In many cases, if someone is having uncontrollable mood issues, a psychiatric therapist is a great first place to start. They can give an initial diagnosis and recommend whether a therapy only treatment is needed or if medication should be explored.

Counselor/Psychologist: If therapy is recommended without medication, a counselor or therapist can be very effective. These people use different strategies like cognitive behavioral therapy to help you to control the bad things in your life, and to live a more positive, productive version of it. These therapists may be temporary, for people who are dealing with grief or transition, or they may be long-term, dealing with anxiety and other larger issues. Most people who try therapy in their lives find it to be a positive, worthwhile experience if they are open to it.

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