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Mental Health Practitioners

November 06, 2012
Group owner Richard Martine

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Mental Health Practitioners

By: Richard Martine   Post Date : November 06, 2012
People often think of medicine and/or using medication when it comes to things like getting a cold, breaking a bone, treating a disease, having babies, and other types of physical conditions. However, injuries and issues are not always of a physical nature. Sometimes they are mental; that is where mental health practitioners come in.

Mental health practitioners treat issues that have to deal with a person's overall mental health and stability. This does not always mean that they are having a problem for say; they may just want to improve their current mental well-being.

There are a number of different professions that qualify as mental health practitioners. Many of them do essentially do the same thing and deal with the same disorders, conditions, and illnesses. What differentiates many of them from each other is the scope of their practice and the education and licensing needed to practice them.

A number of different medical practitioners fall under the broad umbrella of mental health practitioners. Psychiatrists are those that specialize in diagnosing and treating mental disorders; they can prescribe medication as part of the process if necessary. Clinical psychologists take a different approach. They like to try to figure out how or why someone is under mental distress and then try to relieve said distress or prevent it from occurring again. Then you also have mental health counselors, people with master's degrees that take a dynamic and holistic approach to working with clients within their communities.

Educational and licensing requirements will often differ greatly amongst them as well. Some will require prospective practitioners to earn a doctorate level degree in their field such as psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, school psychologist, or psychotherapist. For some professions it is possible to earn a doctorate or masters (i.e. school psychologist, counselor/psychotherapist, occupational therapist, or behavior analysts). There is even one that gives practitioners the option of earning a bachelors, masters, or doctorate (social worker).

The wide range of educational and licensing requirements is due to the range of treatment options that patients with mental health issues may need. Due to the scope of possible issues and/or maladies a variety of different professionals are needed; some may overlap in their scope while others will not. Should one professional not be able to help a patient it is standard practice to refer them to another practitioner.

The only mental health practitioners that are allowed to prescribe medication are psychiatrists, psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioners, and physician assistants. Clinical psychologists are permitted to prescribe medication in New Mexico, Louisiana, and to a limited extent in Indiana and Guam.

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