Definitions of Mental Health Workers

The Board of Congregational Care hopes to support pastors and leaders in their endeavor to provide excellent care for their members.  We have compiled a simple list of primary definitions used in the mental health field. We hope you will find this useful.

Simplified Overview of Mental Health Workers:

Masters Level:

    Most masters level counselors are either licensed as counselors or social workers. For counselors, their main focus is “mental health therapy.” Social workers have various levels of licensing and they also do a lot of case management and may not do any therapy. Neither level can prescribe medication, but some can bill insurance.

Doctoral Level:

    Psychologists are usually a Ph.D or a Psy.D. Each program may have its own speciality, so ask. They may be in research, testing and assessment, or clinical work (as in therapy). In most states, they cannot prescribe medication. They can bill insurance.

Medical Doctor:

Psychiatrists are MDs who specialize in mental health needs. Some only assess and prescribe medications, or do medication management. Some do therapy. They bill insurance.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner:

These are registered nurses with specialized training in psychotropic medication. They can prescribe medication and manage cases.

Drug and Alcohol Counselors:

These practitioners are certified instead of licensed. They might also be licensed counselors or social workers. You need to ask.