What is the difference between mental health counselors, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists?

Welcome to Cheer Counseling Blog.  I’m going to be using this blog to answer common questions, and to educate about mental health problems and treatments. I am glad you are here and look forward to continuing “meeting” in this way. If you have questions you would like me to address, please email your questions to Linda@cheercounseling.com

Thank you.

What is the difference between mental health counselors, social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists?

Mental health and substance abuse counselors assess and treat individuals suffering from mental health problems or addiction and substance abuse issues. This is a masters level program. Mental health counselors are trained to listen and to talk to people to help them learn to manage their own problems. Our job isn’t to fix you, or to give you answers, but rather, to help empower you to manage your own emotions and problems more effectively. We help you examine your own self-talk and make changes that will help you function better in your life.

Social workers act as advocates for their clients, educate clients and teach them new skills. link clients to essential resources within the community, protect vulnerable clients and ensure that their best interests are observed and counsel clients who need support and assistance. This is a masters level program. While counseling is part of social work, it isn’t their primary and only focus, as it is with counselors. You are likely to talk to a social worker if you are hospitalized and need help with after-care planning.

Psychologists also counsel, but they are primarily trained in testing. If you need testing for ADHD, gifted, or other special need services that require formalized testing, then you will want to see a psychologist for this. Psychologists have a Ph.D.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors. They are a trained MD with additional education in psychiatric medications.  They will talk to you briefly, but their training is that of a medical doctor. They prescribe medications and follow-up with your medication needs. They supplement weekly counseling, but do not replace it.