Types of Behavioral Health Providers
Your family doctor can prescribe medicine for a behavioral health condition. You may also prefer to see a mental health or substance abuse specialist. There are many different types of providers to choose from. The CBA provider network includes psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, social workers and counselors. (You should always check your specific benefits to see which providers your plan covers.)
With all the choices available to you, how do you decide? Here is some information on each type of provider.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors. They can prescribe medication. They can practice talk therapy and hospitalize patients. They can also order lab tests and X-rays. These doctors treat everything from depression to substance abuse.
Psychologists (Ph.D. or Psy.D.)
Most psychologists earn a doctoral degree — a Ph.D. or a Psy.D. There are seven specialty areas within psychology. The two main types of psychologists are clinical and counseling. Psychologists can diagnose mental illness. They can also use talk therapy to treat people with a wide range of behavioral health conditions. Usually, psychologists do not prescribe medication.
Psychiatric Nurses (NP or CNS)
Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) are nurse practitioners (NP) and clinical nurse specialists (CNS) who have at least a master’s degree in Psychiatric Nursing. They can diagnose people with mental illness. They can also treat them with talk therapy. Many of these nurses can prescribe medication.
Social Workers (LISW-CP)
Our social workers have a master’s or doctoral degree in Social Work. They are licensed to practice independently. They counsel and help people understand the causes of their behavior and life situations. Social workers help people work to change their behaviors and situations for the better. Social workers do not prescribe medication.
Counselors (LPC or LMFT)
Our counselors are licensed professional, marriage and family therapists. They help people with a variety of mental health and substance abuse conditions. Counselors use talk therapy to help people cope with their conditions. They do not prescribe medication.