Your Guide to Finding the Right Therapist

Dr. Samantha Morel May 20th, 2024

Finding a therapist can be an extremely daunting process, especially if a person has had a negative previous experience. With platforms like Psychology Today and Therapy Den (that are available for searching for local clinicians), their lists just seem to go on for forever! Different specialties, degrees, and certifications make it difficult to understand who would fit your needs best. Let’s clear up this confusion by delving into the various types of therapists and their unique approaches, helping you find the right fit for your mental well-being journey!

1. Clinical Psychologists

Clinical psychologists are trained to assess, diagnose, and treat a wide range of mental health disorders. They hold a doctoral degree in psychology (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) and often have extensive training in research, assessment, and therapy. Clinical psychologists use various therapeutic approaches, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, and humanistic therapy, tailored to the needs of their clients. Their main focus is to help treat clients with mental health disorders. They work in diverse settings such as hospitals, private practices, and academic institutions.

2. Counseling Psychologists

Counseling psychologists also hold a doctoral degree in psychology (Ph.D. or Psy.D.), but focus more on helping individuals with emotional, social, and developmental issues. They emphasize a holistic approach to therapy, considering clients’ overall well-being rather than just specific symptoms. Counseling psychologists are skilled in techniques such as person-centered therapy, solution-focused therapy, and integrative therapy. Their main focus is to provide clients with coping skills. They often work in universities, community mental health centers, and private practices (this is me!).

3. Psychiatrists

Psychiatrists are medical doctors (M.D. or D.O.) who specialize in mental health. They can prescribe medication, which sets them apart from most other types of therapists. Psychiatrists often combine medication management with psychotherapy to treat mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Their medical training allows them to understand the complex interplay between physical and mental health, making them valuable in cases where medication is necessary.

4. Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs)

Licensed Clinical Social Workers hold a master’s degree in social work (MSW) and are trained to provide therapy and social services. LCSWs often work with individuals, families, and groups to address a wide range of issues, including mental health disorders, substance abuse, and life transitions. They use various therapeutic approaches, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and family systems therapy. LCSWs are found in settings like hospitals, schools, government agencies, and private practices.

5. Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs)

Marriage and Family Therapists hold a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy or a related field. They specialize in helping individuals, couples, and families navigate relationship issues. MFTs use a systemic approach, focusing on how relationships and family dynamics impact mental health. They employ techniques such as narrative therapy, structural family therapy, and emotionally focused therapy. MFTs work in private practices, mental health centers, and social service agencies.

6. Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs)

Licensed Professional Counselors hold a master’s degree in counseling or a related field and are trained to provide mental health services to individuals and groups. LPCs work with a broad range of issues, including stress, anxiety, depression, and career concerns. They utilize various therapeutic techniques, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), person-centered therapy, and mindfulness-based therapy. LPCs practice in diverse settings, including private practices, schools, and community health organizations.

7. School Psychologists

School psychologists hold a specialist-level degree (Ed.S. or equivalent) or a doctoral degree in school psychology (Ed.D.). They work within educational settings to support students’ mental health and academic achievement. School psychologists conduct assessments, provide counseling, and develop intervention programs to address learning and behavioral issues. They collaborate with teachers, parents, and administrators to create supportive educational environments.

8. Art Therapists

Art therapists hold a master’s degree in art therapy or a related field and use creative processes to help clients explore emotions, reduce anxiety, and improve mental health. Art therapy can be particularly beneficial for individuals who have difficulty expressing themselves verbally. Art therapists work with diverse populations, including children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly, in settings such as hospitals, schools, and private practices.

9. Music Therapists

Music therapists hold a degree in music therapy and use music as a therapeutic tool to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs. Music therapy can help improve mood, reduce anxiety, and enhance cognitive functioning. Music therapists work with individuals of all ages in various settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, and private practices.

10. Dance/Movement Therapists

Dance/movement therapists hold a master’s degree in dance/movement therapy and use movement to promote emotional, social, cognitive, and physical integration. This form of therapy is grounded in the belief that the mind and body are interconnected, and movement can be a powerful tool for healing. Dance/movement therapists work in a variety of settings, including mental health centers, schools, and private practices.

11. Occupational Therapists (OTs)

Occupational therapists hold a master’s or doctoral degree in occupational therapy and help individuals develop, recover, or maintain daily living and work skills. They often work with individuals who have physical, developmental, or emotional challenges. OTs use therapeutic activities and interventions to improve clients’ ability to perform tasks in their daily lives, enhancing their overall quality of life. They work in settings such as hospitals, schools, and rehabilitation centers.

12. Sex Therapists

Sex therapists hold advanced degrees in psychology, counseling, or social work and have specialized training in addressing sexual health issues. They help individuals and couples with sexual dysfunctions, intimacy issues, and relationship concerns. Sex therapists use various therapeutic approaches, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, and mindfulness-based therapy, to address clients’ needs. They practice in private settings, clinics, and mental health centers.

Conclusion

The world of therapy is rich and diverse, offering numerous pathways to mental well-being. Whether you are dealing with a specific mental health condition, navigating a life transition, or seeking to improve your overall emotional health, there is surely a type of therapist who can meet your needs. 

Hopefully, you’ve narrowed down which type of therapist you want to see, now where to? Check out my blog How to Choose a Therapist… Tips from a Psychologist for a quick step-by-step on how to find your perfect match!

Stay well, 

Dr. M

Ready to take the step?

Contact Me

Samantha Morel, Ph.D.
contact@drsamanthamorel.com

832.304.8894 (call/text)






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