What is a Psychiatrist?
They are physicians (DO or MD), specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. They are able to prescribe medications. Some of them are also trained as psychotherapists. A psychiatrist usually meets with a patient in an initial evaluation that last from 45 minutes to one hour. In this time they ask you questions about your symptoms, your life and the impact of the symptoms in your daily functioning. Follow up visits last approximately fifteen minutes. They formulate a diagnosis and treatment plan, recommend treatment settings (inpatient or outpatient) and prescribe medications and psychotherapy. There are about 1,000 trained psychiatrists in Texas. To further their studies, they seek additional training programs called fellowships. In those, they acquire training in a subspecialty of psychiatry to become: Child and Adolescent psychiatrists, Geriatric psychiatrists (specialized in the care of the elderly), Liaison psychiatrists (psychiatrists that work in medical hospitals) or Substance Abuse psychiatrists (specialized in substance abuse and chemical dependence).
What is a Physician Assistant (PA)?:
They are highly skilled medical professionals who are trained at the Masters level to diagnose and treat mental illness. They have certification in advanced practice psychiatric PA. They work under the supervision of the psychiatrist either in the same location or over the phone. They conduct psychiatric evaluations for diagnosis, treatment plans, prescription of medications, order laboratory test and other necessary additional tests: RX, MRI or CT scans. They work on moderate to mild level complexity cases, while requesting the support of their supervising psychiatrist for complicated cases. PAs provide high-level patient care for the mentally ill and alleviate the problem of the shortage of psychiatrists in the US.
What is a Nurse Practitioner with sub-specialization in psychiatry?:
They are Masters level nurses who are highly trained in diagnosing and treating individuals with mental illness. They work under the supervision of a psychiatrist on mild to moderate complexity cases. They can formulate treatment plans, order labs and prescribe many of the medications prescribed by a psychiatrist. They cannot prescribe the medications considered (Schedule Ii) which in psychiatry includes the stimulants used to treat Attention Deficit disorders.
What is a Psychologist (Ph.D.)?:
They are mental health professionals at a Doctoral level. They use science, theory and clinical knowledge of the human psyche (mind), to understand, prevent and treat psychological distress or dysfunctions. There are practicing, academic and research psychologists. They perform clinical assessments, psychotherapy and research. Their degree requires them to defend a dissertation in their specific field of choice. They are also required to work in a pre-internship “practicum” under the supervision of a seasoned professional in direct clinical care. Psychologists in the US are trying to get privileges allowing them to prescribe medications. Only two states, Oregon and California, permit prescribing medication where psychologists are trained in psychopharmacology.
What is a Psychologist (P.SyD)?:
They are Doctoral level psychologists who are focused in clinical practice. They do more direct patient care rather than research. They are extensively trained, through many hours in clinical training experience, in a wide variety of settings such us community centers, geriatric centers or university counseling centers. After they finish their degree, they must complete supervised clinical hours, and are required to pass a licensing test, after which they are permitted to practice independently. They provide psychotherapy in a variety of treatment settings and modalities.
Counselor (M.A. Master of Art, M.S. Masters of Science)?:
They are counselors with a Masters degree trained in psychotherapy. Their main focus is providing the patient with “Talk Therapy”. Many of them continue further studies to a Doctorate level to become general psychotherapists. They do not perform psychological assessments or research.
What is a Licensed Counselor Social Worker (LCSW)?:
They are social workers with a Masters degree in mental health. They are trained to provide psychotherapy and in-case management, helping people find community resources that suit his/her needs. They are trained in social work and have two to four years of additional training in a particular type of therapy. They are required to pass a license exam in their particular state.
What are Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC)?:
They are counselors with a Masters degree in mental health. They are trained to treat mental health and emotional issues. They work with individuals, families and groups using various types of therapy. Their training includes many hours of supervised clinical experience and must pass a licensing test at the state or national level. LPCs make up a large percentage of professionals who work in mental health centers, agencies and managed care organizations.