Talk:Mental health professional

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07.26.06 - Article Creation[edit]

The purpose of the article is to clarify & compare the roles of specific mental health professionals (i.e. Psychiatrists vs. psychologists, therapists vs. social workers). There are many articles showcasing specific differences within the specific fields, however no articles had yet adequately bridged the gap between therapists, psychologists and psychiatrists, etc. Certain articles would briefly touch on the subject comparing only one other mental health professional with the main article.

I hope this article continues to do two things long after I'm done editing it - 1. Respectfully and accurately compares the differences between mental health professionals both in education/training required and specialties. The general theme of the article should leave the reader to understand that nearly all mental health professionals, especially those who are certified, are fully capable of treating mental disorders or problems with varying treatment options, and if they are not capable of dealing with a specific case will refer the patient to the specialized professional. 2. Presents a summary of all known (keeping a world view) mental health professionals. I have tried to always notate main articles & see-alsos throughout the article. This should not be the one-stop place to find all information on a specific professional (purpose of main article linking), but should provide a concise summary of each for the purpose of comparison and definition of what mental health professionals are.

I've seen a lot of weird and derogatory comments on the Internet, some from certified professionals themselves making inaccurate comments about professions (i.e. "You call a clinical psychologist a doctor but they aren't really doctors" or "Psychiatrists only use medication to treat patients they never actually work through the problems") I hope this article sort of combats this. I feel its important to accurately and respectfully compare differences (like mentioning a Ph.D. and an M.D. are both doctorates & psychiatrists are in fact trained in providing therapy).

Finally, I've added a tag for an expert to correct and/or add any critical missing information in the article. Although I'm studying to go into this field, I'm still only an undergraduate and there are people out there that know a LOT more than I do :). I've quoted and/or sourced all material (sometimes paraphrasing) from the other specific articles. Again, please remember these aren't the main articles for each profession so we shouldn't have too large of a description for each, but if I'm leaving out important items or mentioning non-important ones, please add them. Chupper 14:26, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

Review of new article[edit]

First, nice work so far. I hope the following will help give some ideas for it to develop. Its a quick summary of "things I'd look at":

  1. There's a subtle title question, because there are two approaches. One is to look at the different mental health professional titles, and summarize what they do and how they differ. The other is to look at different aspects and approaches to mental health itself. For example, the first would look at psychiatrist v. psychologist v.psychotherapist. The second would look at psychiatry v. psychology v. psychotherapy, and compare the fields. I'm not sure how to handle it. I'm almost tempted to say that what would work better is, "mental health professional" lists the types of professional -- but links to an article "Fields within mental health" that compares and contrasts actual fields and approaches, for that aspect.
  2. Right now, I (presumably) still lack a clear understanding of how the approach of a psychiatrist and a psychologist and a psychotherapist vary, their core attitude to mental health, in what way these are not the same subject, the different axioms or understandings or methodologies they follow,... that whole issue isn't clear to me from this article yet.
  3. What I'm looking for is something like this: Psychiatry was baeed upon the works of A and grew from the principles and studies of B. Its approach to mental health is that C, unlike psychotherapy which views it as D, as a result of which typically it is used for E. Psychiatric training involves F." In other words, a summary that compares the fields. I'm not yet sure we have that cleanly divided.

Any use? FT2 (Talk | email) 18:06, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you and thanks for the praise! This was a fun article to start and a lot of people have contributed stuff far beyond my knowledge.

In response to what you wrote:

  1. A great idea. I wouldn't mind an article comparing only psychiatry and psychology, however there are so many different types of mental health professionals, we couldn't compare all of them. Since we have A B C D E F - it would be A vs. B, A vs. C., A vs. D., D vs. C, etc etc. This might become too much to take care of even if they were created. My opinion is comparing the "Big two" - psychiatry and psychology.
  2. Well you're just like most people. I would recommend reading through this article and the main articles linked to. Here's a general summary that I'll try to use to help you out.. Our society today doesn't really notice the difference. You'll see on TV psychiatrists providing couple therapy to work an issue out in their marriage. Although this could happen, this certainly isn't the norm, but people think it is. A marriage & family therapist or psychologist would most likely be in this chair. Basically psychiatrists are MEDICAL DOCTORS. They can help you set a broken bone, or prescribe medication for a regular medical problem, or help you with a mental illness - they specialize in the biomedical approach to treating mental illness. They may use therapy like a psychologist, but this isn't what they specialize in. Psychologists and clinical psychologists are SCIENTISTS if they hold a Ph.D. (if they hold a PsyD they only focus on actual therapy, not research), but either way, they spend THEIR ENTIRE postgraduate training FOCUSing on therapies, whereas psychiatrists (medical doctors) spend a lot of their time FOCUSing on medicine (they go to medical school). The bottom line here is if you have a physical problem with your brain causing mental illness, you NEED to go to a psychiatrist or just a regular physician. If you have a behavioral problem, you can see a psychiatrist, but a psychologist (with a doctorate) has more training on the behavioral aspect. That's the bottom line. Other professionals such as therapists (maybe only with a masters or BS degree) usually focus on a specific facet like marriage & family or may focus on the same things as a psychologist with a doctorate, just not as much academic training (this doesn't mean they are not as good - experience also comes into play). Really they all overlap, but the important thing to look at is what they SPECIALIZE in. This makes the difference along with the degree they have achieved.
  3. addressed this in #1. but I think we should create psychiatry vs. psychology article.
Let me know your thoughts! Chupper 03:33, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

You are missing information on Masters level Clinical Psychologists and the licensures that go with it; L.M.L.P. and L.C.P. This may seem minor to some, but the bulk of Clinical practitioners in the field are Masters level. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:29, 25 November 2009 (UTC)

Summaries of differences[edit]

So, a psychiatrist can help you set a broken bone, a clinical psychologist with a PhD is a SCIENTIST, and one with a PsyD is a therapist? NRPanikker 06:24, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

A psychiatrist could help you set a broken bone yes! They are medical doctors & went to medical school. Would you ever find one doing that (unless it was an emergency)? Probably not. They specialize in mental health and almost all their experience will be based in the mental health arena.
All psychologists, whether clinical, or whatever are, by definition, scientists. Whether or not they have a PhD or PsyD they are still considered scientists. A PsyD, however, is a professional doctorate and attaining the degree usually means more time spent on learning actual practice of pyschology then research. A PhD in psych is just like any other PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) and requires substantial academic research to be completed. The only big difference you'll find between psychologists who have PhDs and PsyDs is the fact that PhD psychologists have had to submit a major original contribution in their field. Other differences include where they studied (universities and colleges) and types and frequencies of types of classes taken.
It is important to remember that all pyschologists are much more than therapists. Which degree has more merit? Or which psychologist would be better in the context of type of doctorate? I would say they are equal.
Does that help? Chupper 17:47, 5 December 2006 (UTC)
"All psychologists ... are, by definition, scientists." Is that because they have an "-ology?" What about those who study anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, pharmacology, bacteriology, etc etc not to mention the various clinical subjects at medical or nursing school? Or those who have studied neuroscience and mental illness along with psychology and psychotherapy, i.e. psychiatrists and mental nurses? On the question of comparing PhD and PsyD holders, the further one gets from initial training the less important it becomes in comparison to experience. In many situations, aside from regulatory requirements, it may not even matter what field (medicine, nursing, psychology, social work ...) a professional was originally trained in. NRPanikker 08:21, 8 December 2006 (UTC)
I like NRPanikker's comments. Listen to him :). The main point I wanted to make, which I forgot to even include, was that compared with the level of experience the PhD or PsyD makes almost no difference. Even when comparing non-Dr. therapists with other Dr. therapists, you may find the level of education is not necessarily dependent on quality of therapy. Like if I had a major mental breakdown and I had to go to therapy and I only had two people I could pick from (1:A clinical psychologist 2 years out of his Ph.D. and 2:a therapist with only their masters but 30 years of therapy exp. - I would pick the master's degree :).
Why are they considered scientists? Well I'm not sure if its because of the "ology." I think they are all scientists because thats what a professor said and thats what was quoted from other articles here on Wikipedia. Maybe they are not? Chupper 15:54, 8 December 2006 (UTC)

I think the confusion here lies with the fact that a degree isn't the most defining credential of a professional's practice. It demonstrates the philosophy and subject matter of their study, but their professional license(s) will more accurately indicate the nature of the area of professional activity.

Additionally, counseling psychologists can practice with an M.ed. in counseling psychology, and a professional counselor can practice with a M.ed. in mental health counseling. The master's level counseling psychologist may practice autonomously after five years of supervision (Kentucky), and the master's level counselor may practice autonomously after 2 years (kentucky).

This site should either address all of both professional credentials related to mental health, and degrees related to such, or choose one or the other. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:58, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

Move to delete and merge section on Cultural and religious considerations[edit]

Although this section brings up interesting issues, it doesn't fit within an article listing and describing mental health professionals. It seems arbitrary and doesn't serve to add any light to the general topic. I move to delete it from this article and merge it into Mental health. Psykhosis 17:09, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

I say go for it. Chupper 17:18, 4 March 2007 (UTC)

Removed section[edit]

I removed the following section on the grounds that it is outside the scope of the article. Perhaps it or something like it could be integrated into the mental health article. Psykhosis 18:55, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

Cultural and religious considerations

Mental health is socially constructed and socially defined; that is different professions, communities, societies and cultures have very different ways of conceptualizing its nature and causes, determining what is mentally healthy, and deciding what interventions are appropriate. [2] Therefore different professionals will have different cultural and religous backgrounds and experience which may impact the methodology applied during treatment.

A holistic model of mental health generally includes concepts based upon anthropological, educational, psychological, religious and sociological perspectives as well as theoretical perspectives from personality, social, clinical, health and developmental psychology. [3][4]

Many mental health professionals are beginning to or already understand the importance of competency in religious diversity and spirituality. The American Psychological Association explicitly states that religion must be respected. Education in spiritual and religious matters is also required by the American Psychiatric Association. [5]

One example of a wellness model was developed by Myers, Sweeny and Witmer. It includes five life tasks — essence or spirituality, work and leisure, friendship, love and self-direction—and twelve sub tasks—sense of worth, sense of control, realistic beliefs, emotional awareness and coping, problem solving and creativity, sense of humor, nutrition, exercise, self care, stress management, gender identity, and cultural identity—are identified as characteristics of healthy functioning and a major component of wellness. The components provide a means of responding to the circumstances of life in a manner that promotes healthy functioning. [6]

Training Differences[edit]

It may be helpful for the purposes of comparison to have more details of the training of the different professions, as long as it is understood that no-one stops learning when they get their diploma, and practice a decade or two later may be very different, even unrecognisably so.

I add a longer account of psychiatric training in the UK. If others think it is useful, it could be integrated into the main article.

Psychiatric trainees are generally in full-time medical practice and in the UK would have one day a week to attend lectures and other educational events, including the minority who are enrolled in an MSc or MPhil programme: which means that, unlike old-style undergraduates, they have to derive the bulk of their information from their individual reading, and also from their experiences and discussions at work, rather than from lectures. Although there would be an examination syllabus, generally expressed in broad terms, there would be no prescribed textbooks and so the balance of the learning achieved would depend on the individual's interests and aptitude as well as on colleagues, superiors and the kinds of patients treated and methods used in the particular series of departments to which they happen to be allocated. This would be as true of other kinds of medical specialties, and also other professions which are studied "on the job," such as accountancy, management and clinical psychology.

In the UK it used to be common for psychiatric trainees to have several years of supervision for psychodynamic psychotherapy, and less commonly group therapy, but nowadays brief psychotherapies and a variety of psychological techniques would also be taught, depending on the availability of trainers: which may be the limiting factor. The trainers would be those who do a lot of this kind of work and have time free for teaching: who may be full-time psychotherapists, psychiatrists or psychologists, or less often nurses or occupational therapists. In the National Health Service the more time-consuming therapies may be given largely by trainees at various levels, with supervision by a fully trained therapist. Personal analysis is rarely undergone except by those who are specifically training as psychotherapists or (rarely) psychoanalysts: it may still be commoner for intending child than adult psychiatrists. Family therapy is mainly found in child psychiatry departments: full training would take four years and would involve an outside institute, as with group therapy and some forms of individual psychotherapy. Hypnosis has almost died out, except in the guise of "relaxation therapy."

Information on drugs comes constantly from all directions, from both industry and government-backed sources, and the books and journals a trainee would read, as well as observing seniors' practice. Lectures account for very little of this.

Psychiatry in the UK is much more highly regulated than other branches of medicine, so hearings and tribunals are frequently held for detained inpatients, as well as other kinds of review meetings with outside participation for a wider range of clients, and so psychiatrists have to keep abreast of changes in details of the law: there is a specific accreditation for this.

The more biological side of psychiatry has been less well taught in the UK since the 1970s: previously, there was a two year diploma course in psychological medicine (DPM) which some neurologists also took, which required more neuroscience at the beginning and neurology at the end than does the current membership examination of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. A proportion of psychiatrists had previously trained and qualified in internal medicine: this is now uncommon, but more have gone through general practice training first - which may also stop with the 2007 reorganisation of postgraduate medical education. NRPanikker 22:41, 31 May 2007 (UTC)

I think something like the above would be useful to give a sense of what the training is really like, day-to-day sort of thing. Probably too long for it all to go in this article, but perhaps could go in Psychiatrist? Guess it needs some sources to back it up a bit though. EverSince 09:55, 8 August 2007 (UTC)


I am a non-native speaker to which the usage of the word "shrink" to refer to mental health professional is not obvious. For example, I am not sure whether it be used in an informal context with somebody who is actively seeking therapy. "Are you going to the shrink tomorrow?" Could somebody add a section to this article about this particular word? Cristiklein (talk) 08:48, 22 August 2013 (UTC)

  1. ^ World Health Organisation (2001). The World Health Report 2001: Mental Health : New Understanding, New Hope (World Health Report). Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Report. p. 5. ISBN 978-92-4-156201-0. 
  2. ^ Weare, Katherine (2000). Promoting mental, emotional and social health: A whole school approach. London: RoutledgeFalmer. p. 12. ISBN 978-0415168755. 
  3. ^ Witmer, J.M.; Sweeny, T.J. (1992). "A holistic model for wellness and prevention over the lifespan". Journal of Counseling and Development 71: 140–148. 
  4. ^ Hattie, J.A.; Myers, J.E.; Sweeney, T.J. (2004). "A factor structure of wellness: Theory, assessment, analysis and practice". Journal of Counseling and Development 82: 354–364. 
  5. ^ Richards, P.S.; Bergin, A. E. (2000). Handbook of Psychotherapy and Religious Diversity. Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association. p. 4. ISBN 978-1557986245. 
  6. ^ Myers, J.E.; Sweeny, T.J.; Witmer, J.M. (2000). "The wheel of wellness counseling for wellness: A holistic model for treatment planning. Journal of Counseling and Development". Journal of Counseling and Development 78: 251–266.