When trusted friends aren’t available or not helpful, when your favorite clergy person just isn’t saying anything to improve your mood or level of insight, when you think “I need help,“ then it’s time to figure out where and how to find the help you need.
Depending on the severity of the situation or idea bothering you, you can ask a variety of mental health professionals to help you to think your way past a specific problem, or as they like to say “to resolve the problem.”
The Type of Work that Specific Mental Health Professionals Do
Psychiatrists are medical doctors with additional training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health problems. Their focus is on what is going wrong biologically in your brain or body. Once they run some tests to learn if your body’s chemistry is deficient somehow, they’ll know if you simply need better nutrition, a change in your temporary or long-term medication for a physical ailment affecting your mood or behavior in a negative way, or if you need a medicinal prescription to address a lack or an excess of brain or body chemistry.
Psychiatrists don’t just prescribe drugs, though. They are also skilled in talk therapy, using an ongoing conversation to help you to think your past through and past a given problem. Though psychiatrists can readily work with other medical professionals caring for you, you need to make sure that your health insurance plan will cover the psychiatric care.
Psychologists earn a doctoral PhD in philosophy or a PsyD degree in counseling or clinical psychology as they train to focus on how the human mind works, what motivates, inhibits, relieves, and stresses people. Clinical psychologists assess mental health problems for research, or they might also engage in counseling people with learning disabilities. They can also counsel clients suffering from substance abuse, depression, anxiety, and/or eating disorders.
Psychologists don’t address problems complicated by medical or biochemistry issues. They use talk therapy only, not medication. They refer people with biological chemistry problems to psychiatrists qualified to treat them.
Psychologists focus on helping clients to cope with stress and with stressful events by using specific ideas that help a person to calm down and to think calmly so that they can respond to a problem rather than react to it. Sensible intention versus emotion-fueled knee-jerk reaction is the goal.
Psychologists also identify sleep patterns that mess up a person’s ability to focus, and they look for thinking or behavior patterns that are counterproductive. They help a person to understand how they’re sabotaging their own life, and how not to do that anymore. They teach self-nurturing and self-restraint plus self-led skills, how to see the good in a bad situation, and how to support a sense of self-worth.
Social workers are educated in psychology (how human minds work) and sociology (how societies tend to operate) and in the dangers of at-risk populations. Social workers can end up with a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in social work, depending on the length and focus of their studies.
LCSW degrees indicate that a social worker is licensed to practice in clinical settings. DSW degree holders focused on analysis, research, teaching, and executive leadership. MSW degrees indicate that a person is educated in occupational ethics, social services policy and regulation (they differ in different locations plus on national and local levels), social work leadership theory, and the practical execution of these skills. MSW holders are qualified for healthcare and leadership employment.
Social workers of all types know about community resources and how clients can benefit from them. They network, too. While the arrangements for helping you are in progress, social workers help their clients to look at life with perspective. That implies the need to see life from other points of view, to rank your priorities from most to least important and to focus on them accordingly while you learn coping skills.
Where and How to find the Therapist You Need
The people practicing the professions named above fall with the umbrella term “counselors and/or therapists.” If a client has specific cultural or religious needs, they might seek out counselors, including religious figures, who understand and appreciate the realities. You the client choose the type of counselor best suited to your “I need help” needs. You can find that counselor or therapist in the phone book, online, or by asking for referrals from professional counseling societies and/or people you know.