“Counselor” or “therapist” are general terms. If you are referred to a mental health professional, you might meet with a licensed clinical counselor, a social worker, a psychologist, psychiatric nurse, or psychiatrist. Differences among these professionals include the amount of education they have, what type of program they completed, and the type of services they provide. The list below includes only licensed professionals who assess, diagnose, and treat those with mental health conditions.
All of these individuals can provide therapy; in most states, only psychiatrists and advance practice nurses can prescribe medication. In addition to the training described above, mental health professionals may have a chosen specialty for which they have pursued additional training. If possible, I recommend that pregnant women ask for a referral to a Women’s Health specialist. If the approaches utilized in this series resonate with you, look for a specialist in cognitive behavioral therapy.
Sometimes only one form of treatment is used, or both therapy and medication can be combined. Picking the right person to help you overcome any emotional or mental troubles is important. Remember that finding the “right” mental health professional can involve trial-and-error. In addition to specialty and training, you will need to consider scheduling, convenience, cost, etc. Overall, your goal is to find someone who can help you with your current symptoms and with whom you can collaborate effectively to find better ways of thinking, feeling, and living.
Dr. Jill Sullivan is a licensed clinical psychologist with more than fifteen years of specialized training and expertise in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). She is a co-founder of CBT Specialists of Chicago, and creator of Anxiety-Free Pregnancy.