WHO DOES WHAT... in the world of mental/behavioral health and addictions? The role of your professional counselor.
I have been asked several times whether I have appointments available to see a client because he or she is out of medications or no longer has a doctor who prescribes him or her medications. I am always patient and try to take the time to explain to the individual exactly who I am and what I can or cannot do because it is confusing.
I decided I would take some time now and answer the mysteries of who does what in the world of mental/behavioral health and addictions.
I start by explaining that the only providers who can prescribe medications are medical doctors and some nurse practitioners; this includes, but is not limited to Primary Care Physicians (family doctors), Psychiatrists, Nurse Practitioners etc.
Social Workers, Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Clinical Professional Counselors, and Licensed Professional Counselors are Master's level providers/clinicians who provide individual, couples, family, and group therapy. Some of these licensed providers also conduct substance abuse and other addictions evaluations to identify the appropriate level of care for an individual ie. residential treatment, outpatient, or intensive outpatient treatment. These providers use talk therapy; processing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors; incorporate psychoeducational materials; as well as incorporate homework assignments into the individual's treatment to increase participation, insight, and growth.
Psychologists have obtained their Doctorate degree; this does not make them a physician, it means that this person has went to school pass the Master's level and received a doctoral degree. Psychologists generally provide many of the services that Master's level clinicians do, but also have specialized training in performing psychological testing for clients.
The most important thing to know and look for is a provider, clinician, or physician that meets your needs and places your care as their priority. Some people NEED medication to help manage symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder, ADHD, Bipolar, or Schizophrenia, however, the client/patient can reach higher levels of success and stability by participating in therapy/counseling services.
I hope this is helpful to you. Just please remember that by working together, amazing change CAN happen!
Angela D. McClain