If you know you would like help with your emotions, thoughts, or behaviors, how do you know which type of professional would be the best choice for you? Should you see a psychiatrist or therapist? Would you be better served by a MFT or an LCSW? There are quite a variety of mental health professionals at the Well, and their areas of expertise sometimes overlap. Let’s clarify some of the differences so you can figure out which type of professional you would like to make an appointment with.
– Medical Doctors (M.D.)
– Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners (Psych.N.P.)
One clear distinction is between professionals who can and cannot prescribe medication. If medication is a primary concern, then it makes sense for you to begin with an appointment with a family doctor, psychiatrist, or a psychiatric nurse practitioner. These professionals have extensive training in assessing whether or not your concerns are best treated with a psychoactive medication, as well as how to monitor and evaluate how those medications are working for you over time. Psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners also have training in psychotherapy. You may decide to work with one of these professionals without electing to go on medication,.
– Psychologists (PsyD or PhD)
– Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT, MFTi for pre-licensed professionals)
– Licensed Professional Social Workers (LCSW)
Many providers at The Well Clinic offer psychotherapy but do not prescribe medicine. A provider’s style of therapy, counseling, or coaching depends on the specifics of their approach and client needs and goals. There is an increasingly conclusive body of research indicating that the fit between the client and therapist, and the therapist’s capacity for therapeutic presence, are the most reliable indicators for a successful course of therapy. We recommend that you take a look at the bios for our therapists and allow yourself to get a feel for who they are, and who might be a good fit for you. That being said, there are differences in the training and expertise of that our therapists have, and that can be an important factor in your decision making.
Masters level professionals:
MFT’s and LCSW’s typically attend graduate school for 3 years and complete an internship of 2-4 years. In general, MFT training programs focus on counseling skills, family systems, relationships, and human development. MSW training programs also prepare their students for psychotherapeutic intervention, and generally have more of a focus on community and agency work.
Doctoral level professionals:
Psychologists typically spend about 6 years in their programs, which encompass coursework, internships, and the research and writing of their dissertation. Psychologists provide psychotherapy services similar to masters level professionals, but they have additional training and expertise that makes them a better fit for some individuals. They have training in testing and evaluation that allows them to use a wider range of research validated assessment tools for diagnostic purposes. These professionals have also engaged in high level scholarship or research, and are often experts in a particular aspect of psychology.