Differences Between Psychologists, Psychiatrists and Licensed Mental Health Counselors

Taking care of your mental health and well-being is just as important as taking care of your physical health.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, or experiencing anxiety or other symptoms of a mental health disorder, it is highly recommended that you seek the help of a licensed professional.

Mental health professionals can help you to assess challenging life events and explore how they may be affecting you. They are trained to diagnose mental health conditions and provide the tools needed to manage emotions, phobias, compulsions, or addictions.

There are several types of mental health professionals available to help with your concerns. The most common are licensed mental health counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists. Understanding the key differences in their training and the delivery of their services can help with deciding what is best for you.

  • Psychologists- have advanced, doctoral degrees in the study of the human mind and behaviors. They are qualified to provide counseling and psychotherapy, perform psychological testing, and treat mental health disorders. Psychologists are not medical doctors; therefore, they generally (except for a few states) do not prescribe medications and cannot perform medical procedures.
  • Psychiatrists– are medical doctors who are trained in the field of psychiatry (the branch of medicine that focuses on preventing, diagnosing, and treating mental health and emotional disorders). Psychiatrists typically treat more complex mental health disorders than psychologists and are trained to differentiate mental health problems from other underlying medical issues that present symptoms similar to psychiatric conditions.  Psychiatrists can prescribe medications and other medical treatments as part of a patient’s treatment plan.
  • Licensed Mental health counselors- have master’s degrees in a field of study related to mental health such as counseling or psychology. They work with individuals, couples, or families to identify triggers, improve overall mental well-being or cope with mental health issues. They are not medical doctors; therefore, are unable to prescribe medications.

If someone you know is experiencing mental health problems, please encourage them to seek the assistance of a mental health professional.

To schedule an appointment with a Mental Health Professional at Flushing Hospital Medical Center, call 718-670-5562.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.