Different Types of Mental Health Providers

The variety of professionals providing mental health services tends to be confusing for most people.  It is important to understand the difference when your are seeking help because some provider types are limited in practice to certain types of problems or may only provide limited types of services.  Also, your insurance company may only reimburse for some of these provider types. 

PSYCHOLOGISTS (PhD, PsyD) study the science of human thinking, feeling, and behaving.  They then apply the scientific framework of psychology to the practice of psychology in counseling, psychological testing, consulting, etc..  They must have a doctoral degree in psychology for licensure and are broadly trained in a variety of problems and techniques although they may focus on certain specialty areas if they choose.  In addition to the doctoral level training, they are required to have at least a year of full time training residency and an additional year of supervised practice.  Most insurance companies will reimburse psychologists.

PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATES (MA, MS) are licensed at the masters degree level in psychology.  They are supervised by doctoral level psychologists on an ongoing basis and must practice within the scope of their training and experience.  They also may perform psychological testing.  Check with your insurance about reimbursement of Psychological Associates.

PSYCHIATRISTS (MD) are physicians who have completed the same medical school academic program as other physician specialties and then completed a training residency in psychiatry that lasts 4 years.  Most psychiatrists do not provide psychotherapy services themselves, instead, these providers utilize medications as the treatment of choice.  They may refer you to other providers for psychotherapy.  Most insurance companies will reimburse psychiatrists for services.

ADVANCED PRACTICE REGISTERED NURSE (APRN) is licensed at the masters level in a specific specialty such as Adult Mental Health or Family Mental Health.  They are overseen by a psychiatrist and can prescribe medication after a period of close oversight in prescription writing.  Like psychiatrists, most do not engage in psychotherapy themselves but focus on providing pharmacological treatment.  Check with your insurance provider, but APRN's are generally covered under the collaborating psychiatrists license.

LICENSED PROFESSIONAL COUNSELORS (MA, MS) are licensed at the masters degree level and undergo two years of supervised practice after receiving their degree.  They must practice within the scope of their training and experience which is often very broad, but not necessarily so.  Check with your insurance company regarding reimbursement of LPC's.

LICENSED MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPISTS (MA, MS) are licensed at the masters degree level and have an equivalent of a year of post-degree supervised practice in marital and family therapy.  These providers treat relational problems in marital or family situations, as well as the relationship factors in individual mental health issues.  Check with your insurance company regarding reimbursement of LMFT's.

LICENSED CLINICAL SOCIAL WORKERS (LCSW) are licensed at the masters degree level and receive two years of post-degree supervised practice in a variety of settings.  They must practice within the scope of their training and experience.  Many insurance companies will reimburse for the services of an LCSW.

CERTIFIED SUBSTANCE ABUSE COUNSELOR (CSAC) are certified with at least a high school diploma or GED although they may have a bachelors degree.  Three years of work experience and continuing education requirements are necessary to complete certification.  These counselors are limited to treatment of substance abuse.  A person with a masters in a human services field can become a Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist, with otherwise similar experience,  continuing education requirements, and limitations to practice.  Check your insurance company for reimburement questions.      

About Dr Durham

Dr Durham is a Clinical Psychologist that has been married for over 3 decades to a family nurse practitioner and has two grown children, a son-in-law, and two grandchildren.  His son teaches in an international school in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  His daughter is an attorney working in Charleston, South Carolina, and son-in-law is a psychiatrist in Charleston, SC.

An undergraduate degree in Missions from Harding University in 1980 and graduate degrees from Western Seminary/George Fox University in 1982 and 1986 in Clinical Psychology, form the core of his academic preparation.  A pre-doctoral training internship was completed through Christian Counseling Services in Gresham, OR.  Post-doctoral residency was completed at Houston International Hospital, Houston, TX, Pinebrook Hospital, Sparks, NV, and First Christian Church, Fort Collins, CO.  He has been licensed as a psychologist in Nevada, Arkansas, and North Carolina.  He has also received the Certificate of Professional Qualification in Psychology issued by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.   

He has worked in private practice, church-based clinics, community mental health, in-patient psychiatric hospitals, a university counseling center, and in teaching graduate and undergraduate psychology students.  He works with adults, elders, couples, families, and adolescents.  The types of problems he has training and experience in treating include severe crisis problems such as psychosis and suicidality, as well as the debilitating problems of depression, anxiety, loneliness, anger, eating disorders, family conflict, grief, substance abuse, etc..  

Dr Durham holds a personal worldview that is thoroughly Christian and has advanced training in theology in addition to his psychological studies.  He is very comfortable working with both Christian or non-Christian clients. 

Dr Durham enjoys a variety of leisure activities including bicycling, photography, sailing, computers, reading, and church activities. 

Key Decision Making Points

A. "Does the provider I am considering have the Training and Experience in dealing with my problem?" 

As seen above, Dr. Durham has training at the doctoral level and a variety of experiences treating broad ranging problems. Additionally, he is uniquely prepared to address integrative issues within a Christian worldview.  He is bound by the Psychologists Code of Ethics to only work within the scope of his training and experience.

B. "Do I think I will be able to develop a Therapeutic Alliance with this therapist?"

Over 1/3 of change occurs as a direct result of the quality of the therapeutic alliance, which is more than twice the amount of change attributed to therapeutic technique.  Dr. Durham uses a measure of the quality of the therapy experience that he developed as a "best practice" of soliciting constant feedback from the client to aid in building the therapeutic alliance and treatment outcomes.  Click here to view the measure.

C. "Will this clinician meet my practical concerns of being Available and Affordable?"

As a clinical psychologist, Dr Durham is reimburseable by most insurance companies. Check your insurance for information about reimbursement of face-to-face services, or services via an online format. One of the many benefits of online service provision is the greater flexibility of scheduling times, including evenings or weekends.