Types Of Mental Health Professionals
Once a parent decides to seek help for a mental health problem for their child, they are faced with the task of trying to choose among any number of degreed and licensed people who may provide mental health treatment. One of the things unique to Austin Child Guidance Center is its use of several professional disciplines who work together to provide the best possible treatment for the child and his or her family. Below is a brief description of the various professional disciplines represented on the staff along with the professional training received and the services provided by each specialty.
Registered art therapists (ATRs) specialize in using art media and the creative arts process in therapy. Art therapists have a master’s degree/post-master’s training followed by an extensive internship. Registered art therapists may become board certified by passing a national exam and may work in private practice or in facilities which offer services such as education, rehabilitation, elder care, psychiatric care, and medical care.
Licensed Professional Counselor
Licensed professional counselors (LPC) have at least a master’s degree, complete 36 months or 3000 clock hours of supervised experience, and pass a state licensure exam. Services are offered to individuals of all ages, families, couples, groups, and organizations in the areas of psychotherapy, personal/social concerns, wellness, and career/educational decisions. Strict rules and a national code of ethics govern the practice of counseling.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Licensed marriage and family therapists (LMFT) utilize systems methods in many areas such as marital, family, child, divorce, sex, chemical dependency, and individual psychotherapy. Family system approaches attempt to stabilize and alleviate problems of any family member and enhance the emotional and mental health of all family members.
Psychologists must have a doctoral degree in psychology and complete a supervised internship. They are licensed to practice independently. Psychologists perform a wide range of evaluation and treatment interventions with children, adults, couples, families, groups, and organizations. Services provided include: individual psychotherapy, group and family therapy, diagnostic evaluations, psychological and neuropsychological testing, career counseling, forensic evaluations, behavioral health consultations, and organizational consulting.
Play therapists are professionals who specialize in utilizing play in the therapy process for children, adolescents, and families. Services are provided in agencies, private practice, and schools. Registered play therapists meet specific requirements in addition to those of their mental health license.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illness. Psychiatrists have a doctor of medicine (M.D.) or doctor of osteopathy (D.O.) degree from an approved medical school, a license to practice medicine, and have completed a psychiatric residency. Psychiatrists examine patients biologically and psychologically, order medical tests, prescribe medications, provide psychotherapy and, when necessary, admit patients to hospitals.
A social worker has a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in social work and helps individuals, families, and community groups. Social workers provide counseling and psychotherapy, locate public/private social services and resources, establish social and health services for clients, and help to shape public policies. Licensing categories include: Social Work Associate (SWA), Licensed Social Worker (LSW), Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), and Licensed Master Social Worker-Advanced Practitioner (LMSW-AP).
Note: Descriptions of the various mental health professionals were taken from “How Do You Choose a Helper: A Guide to Mental Health Services in Texas,” a joint publication of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health and the Texas Mental Health Liaison Group.