By Pastor Vinnie Cappetta
I am often asked to help people make sense of all the various mental health providers out there. Here is some basic information about who they are and what they do.
Psychologists: doctorate in psychology from accredited program. They can provide ind/group counseling.
Psychiatrists: medical doctors...able to prescribe medication to help you with emotional issues but most do not do counseling.
Nurse practitioners: registered nurses with a graduate degree and special training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental emotional illnesses. Some of them provide counseling. Also able to prescribe medication.
Mental health counselors or (LMHCs) have a masters degree and can do individual or group counseling.
Social workers: individual and group counseling as well as case management and advocacy.
Licensed marriage and family counselors: are like a mental health counselors but with special training in marriage and family counseling.
Pastors and members of clergy: typically not trained in counseling, but often helpful to those seeking spiritual and emotional help. They will sit, listen, give you feedback and pray with you. Most will meet with you once or more but will often refer you to a counselor if they feel they are getting in over their heads.
Most churches have lists of mental health providers they could refer you to. I’ve found...the larger the church, the more likely they are to have a list like this. Start with your church. If they don’t have one, contact a larger church in your area.
Let’s Talk about Expectations...
Expect it to take some time to find someone. Especially if you have parameters like the providers faith background or a speciality you are looking for.
It may take hours or days to find someone. Press through. Don’t give up. Your emotional and spiritual health is too important.
When you call, you may not reach them. Providers are in session 30+ hours and then there is the paperwork they have to do. They may not call you back. This is especially true if their schedule is full or if they think they’re not a good fit for you.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me via phone or text at 508-332-3031
If you have a friend trying to make sense of mental health providers, please share this with them.