All mental health providers treat people with a wide variety of problems. The difference is usually their schooling, their approach, and whether or not they can prescribe medication. Below are the most common kinds of providers:
A Psychiatrist is a medical doctor who can prescribe medications that may be a part of your treatment plan. Usually, you will be sent to a psychiatrist after you have started working with another type of therapist if it seems medication may be helpful to you. If you are already taking medications for any other health related condition, make sure you tell the psychiatrist what these medications are. If you are pregnant or breast feeding you must make sure that the psychiatrist knows because this will help them determine what medication is safe to prescribe. If you are already taking psychotropic medication to help you emotionally, make sure that the psychiatrist knows what you are taking because it is usually not good to be on too many of these at once.
Medication should never be the only solution to your problems. You should always be working with a therapist at the same time. You should make sure you understand:
- Why you are being offered medication
- What this medication will do for you.
- How long you might be on it.
- The answers to any other questions you may have about medication. If you are not comfortable with the answers to these questions, and you feel like the professionals aren’t listening to your concerns, talk to your lawyer.
The other types of therapists are not allowed to prescribe medication. They are most commonly called:
- Psychologist – (PhD, PsyD, EdD, MS, MA)
- Social Worker – (MSW, LCSW)
- Marriage and Family Therapists – (MFT)
You may see one or an assortment of these initials next to your therapist’s name.
Their training makes them all equally capable of helping you through your problems. What counts is how you FEEL when you are talking to the person. It often takes time to feel comfortable opening up to a stranger, so give it a chance. If you really don’t feel like this is the right person to help you, ask to make a change. You may want to get help from your social worker or attorney to do this.