When you are experiencing a mental health crisis, or just need someone caring and nonjudgmental to chat with, you may seek the help of a mental health counselor. It’s common to be confused about what kind of counselor to look for, and how to find one you can trust.
There are several kinds of counselors who specialize in mental health. They work in a variety of settings: in-patient facilities, community health centers, schools, in private practice, and online. Licensure varies from state to state.
The most common types of mental health counselors are psychologists, who hold PhDs; licensed counselors, like a Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Mental Health Counselors, or a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist; or social workers, who are credentialed under the MSW or LCSW degree. If you are looking for a counselor who prescribes medication, you would need to contact a psychiatrist. Many psychiatrists work in conjunction with “talk therapy” counselors.
When looking for a mental health counselor, it’s wise to ask about credentials and experience. But it’s also important to go with your instincts, and seek care from someone who makes you feel safe and comfortable. The right counselor is out there for every one of us.