There are certain services that only a psychologist can provide. But there are other professionals who also provide therapy and counselling, and whose "scope of practice" overlaps with that of psychology.
Clinical psychologists diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders of all types. They also assess and provide psychotherapy and counseling for problems of living and relationship problems. Psychologists work with individuals, families, groups, and organizations. They often use "tests" or measures of mental abilities and personality factors.
To provide comprehensive care, psychologists are trained to consult with a patient's medical doctors. Psychologists may also admit patients to mental or psychiatric hospitals, and serve as a patient's primary care taker in that setting. Most people encounter psychologists in a private therapy office.
Psychiatrists are medical doctors specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders, typically with the use of medications.
There are a number of mental and emotional conditions for which medications are a recommended, sometimes necessary part of treatment. In most all cases, someone receiving medications will also want to be seen by a psychotherapist, especially when the problem involves stress, depression or anxiety.
Primary care physicians also routinely provide mental health care, usually for common forms of depression, stress, or anxiety. Sometimes they will provide brief counseling, and often times they will prescribe medications. For patients in need, the family physician is an important referral source and a link to other mental health professionals.
Licensed Clinical Social Workers are identified as an LCSW. There are actually many different types of social workers, but only a licensed social worker (LCSW) with a Master's degree in Social Work can provide clinical services in independent practice. LCSWs provide therapy for all types of conditions, but they are distinguished by their training in dealing with practical problems of living.
Marriage Family Therapists are identified as an MFT or MFCC (in California). Their license requires a Master's degree. Marriage counselors provide assistance to troubled children and families, and to individuals coping with troubled relationships. The scope of practice for marriage counselors is often broadly interpreted, but strictly speaking, they provide treatment for mental and emotional disturbances only when they relate to issues within a marriage or a relationship, or with a child.
Registered Nurses are valued and important members of most mental health treatment teams, and also provide assistance to distressed individuals as they interact with them in medical offices, hospitals and clinics.
Pastoral Counselors and Clergy meet many needs for many individuals.
Copyright, Paul G. Mattiuzzi,Ph.D.