Do you feel intimidated and overwhelmed when you research therapy? Are you wondering what types of therapists there are? With various different styles of therapy, qualifications, and titles. We understand that it can be confusing to choose.
If you have just begun your mental health journey, we're here to help. Continue reading to learn about what therapist qualifications may be best for your needs.
Broadly, there are various different qualifications therapists can use. Most typically, therapists may use the credential "PsyD." This means they have done a Doctorate Degree in Psychology and are therefore a Licensed Psychologist. Psychiatrists are medical doctors. They have had additional training to specialize in mental health.
Some therapists may use "LCSW,” which indicates they are a Clinical Social Worker. Other therapists use "LMFT,” meaning they are a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Those that use the credential "LMHC" are Licensed Mental Health Counselors.
Now that you know what these broad terms mean, we can dive a bit deeper into the option that may be right for you.
Therapists with the "PsyD" qualification are required to have years of supervised training. They are also required to pass the Examination of Professional Practice of Psychology. Those with a "Ph.D." must complete a doctoral dissertation but require less clinical training.
Due to high training and specialization, PsyD and Ph.D. therapists are generally slightly more expensive to access. Though they generally are best-equipped to treat mental health disorders. These may include Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) or Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). PsyD therapists have also trained in a clinical setting, so they are generally comfortable to talk to. This may differ from psychologists with a Ph.D., as they would have trained in a research-focused setting.
PsyD's and Ph.D.'s are able to diagnose mental health disorders, but in most cases, cannot prescribe medication. Therefore, they generally use techniques such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This technique focuses on understanding how thoughts affect emotions. Other techniques may include Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy or Counselling.
Psychiatrists have to complete a medical degree and a four-year residency, with three of those years spent studying psychiatry. They also have to pass various exams. Psychiatrists are mental health doctors, which is why they can diagnose and prescribe medication for mental health disorders.
In line with this, these doctors typically have not spent time in a clinical therapy setting learning about talk therapy. Therefore, they should only be accessed in settings where therapy may be inappropriate, and medication is required. Psychiatrists can also be accessed in conjunction with a psychologist.
Social workers are required to spend a portion of their degree completing required supervised hours. They then require two years of full-time work and various board mandated exams. There are some differences between the types of social workers.
An "LMSW" (Licensed Master Social Worker) must work under a psychologist, psychiatrist, or "LCSW" to provide clinical therapy or other mental health services. Comparatively, those with "LCSW" qualifications are Licensed Clinical Social Workers. Therefore, they have completed the required hours to practice alone.
Social workers are typically more affordable as they have trained for a shorter period of time. As such, they often work with those from lower socio-economic backgrounds and those with trauma and hardship. They may also work in schools, offices, or rehabilitation centers or choose to work with one sector of the population (e.g., migrants).
LMHC's are very similar to social workers. They also require supervised hours, two years of full-time work, and the completion of a national board exam. However, LMHC's also have the ability to perform assessments. These may help in situations such as the diagnosis of a learning disability.
LMFT's require two years of supervised clinical training and a national board exam.
These therapists generally work with families or couples together, rather than alone. They are also highly specialized in family and marriage dynamics and issues, as well as techniques to solve them. These types of therapists are best to visit if you have specific issues within your family or marriage and you would like to attend sessions together.
At Williamsburg, we have recently opened our new child and family division. Here, we specialize in family therapy.
Ultimately, there are a lot of factors that need to be addressed when choosing one of the above types of therapists. Important questions to ask yourself may include:
It is important to consider what your goal is when accessing therapy. If you have a specific issue within your family or marriage, it would be best to visit an LMFT. Though, if you believe you have a mental health disorder that you want to treat with talk therapy, it would be best to talk to a psychologist.
If you have previously worked with a social worker or mental health counselor and have felt as though they were unable to understand, diagnose, or treat your concerns effectively, it may be best to switch gears. In this instance, you might think about seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist.
If you have access to a school or workplace that offers therapy, that may increase accessibility. However, this counselor will most likely be social workers or mental health counselor. Comparatively, if you have a high income, you may choose to directly access a private psychologist.
Remember that there is no one type of therapist for everyone. You might come across two psychologists with different treatment styles, one of which may suit you better. Remember to give it time and patience!
If you are interested in learning more about finding a therapist in NYC or have other questions, check out our blog. If you are looking for a therapist in Brooklyn, get in touch to discuss an appointment.