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Types of Therapists

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in mental disorders, is licensed to practice medicine, and has completed a year of internship and three years of specialty training. A board-certified psychiatrist has, in addition, practiced for at least two years and passed the written and oral examinations of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Psychiatrists can evaluate and diagnose all types of mental disorders, carry out biomedical treatments and psychotherapy, and work with psychological problems associated with medical disorders. Like other medical doctors, they can prescribe medication. Child psychiatrists specialize in working with children; geriatric psychiatrists concentrate on helping the aged.

Psychologists who conduct psychotherapy and work with individuals, groups, or families to resolve problems generally are called clinical or counseling psychologists. They work in many settings – for example, mental health centers, hospitals and clinics, schools, employee assistance programs, and private practice. In most states, a licensed clinical psychologist has completed a doctoral degree from a university program with specialized training and experience requirements and has successfully completed a professional licensure examination.

The field of psychology also includes those who specialize in such areas as testing, community organization, industrial relations, and laboratory research.

Clinical Social Workers:
Clinical social workers have master's or doctoral degrees in social work, at least two years of post-graduate experience in a supervised clinical setting, and have passed an examination required for state licensure. In addition to individual, family, and group counseling and psychotherapy, they are trained in client-centered advocacy. This includes information, referral, direct intervention with governmental and civic agencies, and expansion of community resources.

Marriage and Family Therapists:
Marriage and Family Therapist are state licensed as counselors to provide psychotherapy and counseling for families, couples, groups, and individuals. They have at least a master's degree, two years of supervised post-degree experience, and have passed a state comprehensive examination. Therapists with other licenses may also be qualified to conduct marriage and family therapy.

Professional Counselors:
Professional Counselors have at least a master's degree, two years of supervised clinical experience, and have passed an examination required for state licensure. In states without licensure or certification laws, professional counselors are certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). They provide quality mental health and substance abuse care to individuals, families, groups and organizations. They may be trained in a variety of therapeutic techniques and approaches.

Psychiatric Nurses:
Psychiatric nursing is a specialized area of professional nursing practice that is concerned with prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of mental-health-related problems. These nurses are registered professional nurses, and those who have advanced academic degrees at the master's degree level or above can become advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). APRNs are qualified to practice independently and provide the full range of primary mental health care services to individuals, families, groups and communities. In most states, psychiatric nurses in advanced practice have the authority to prescribe medication.