What's the Difference Between Mental Health Counselors and Therapists?

Licensed professional counselors and therapists provide mental health services, but they differ in education and training. A therapist typically has a master's degree or higher in counseling, which isn't always the case with a mental health counselor. Psychologists are also a common job title in mental health counseling. While therapists and counselors may be considered more similar than different, the difference is more pronounced for psychologists. Therapists can help people overcome life challenges, while counselors can work with those who have mental health problems.

Many mental health professionals are trained to do many of the same things, such as diagnosing and treating mental disorders and helping people answer their questions. The most common licenses include licensed mental health counselors (LHMC) and licensed professional counselors (LPC). To become licensed, you must complete the educational worksheet for mental health counseling. Most master's degrees in the field of mental health take two to three years to complete, combining learning and practical experience. According to the American Counseling Association, they also represent a large percentage of the workforce employed in mental health centers, agencies and community organizations.

A psychologist is similar to mental health counselors and therapists in that they also work to improve the mental and emotional health of their patients. They may also provide case management services, meaning that they help assess, coordinate and defend a client's mental health service needs, according to the National Association of Social Workers.People can face many difficulties throughout life, such as relationship challenges, stressful events, and mental health conditions. A psychologist is a mental health professional in the field of psychology who may specialize in a subfield, such as counseling, development, education, forensic medicine, health, or industrial and organizational psychology. Mental Health Match can connect you with counselors and therapists who specialize in helping you with your specific mental health concerns or problems. Therapists are specially trained mental health professionals who have been trained in psychotherapy techniques and treat mental health conditions such as major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.

Counseling involves working with a mental health counselor or clinical mental health counselor on a specific topic for a limited period of time. To become a counseling psychologist will generally require a higher level of education, such as earning a doctorate in counseling psychology.

Jeanette Kunzler
Jeanette Kunzler

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