There are many different types of mental health counseling, and each person may find different configurations and types of specialists that work best. The type of treatment selected should be dictated by mental health needs — many mental illnesses need medical professional involvement. When people do not take medications to treat mental health issues, they may have different choices. Type can include choosing different specialists, such as psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, and marriage and family therapists, and the form in which counseling occurs, like group, individual, couple, and family. Theoretical approaches need also be considered when thinking about how people are counseled.
Specialists chosen may determine types of mental health counseling to a degree. Psychiatrists are licensed doctors and most often concerned in diagnosing true mental illness that may require medication. Occasionally, psychiatrists also function as therapists; it’s important to remember Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, was a doctor. Essentially, a psychiatrist can combine drug and talk therapy or they might only perform medication management. This will vary as to the doctor.
Other mental health professionals cannot prescribe psychiatric medications, but they very often give therapy to people with psychiatric illnesses. This means some clients might have two different types of mental health counseling concurrently. They might see a psychotherapist or counselor and also see a psychiatrist. This arrangement works very well when communication between therapist and psychiatrist is strong.
Those who don’t need medication but do want counseling to address a variety of issues still have many different types of mental health counseling from which to choose. They can plan on seeing possibly a psychiatrist, a counseling psychologist, a licensed clinical social worker or a marriage and family therapist. Depending on therapy needs people could seek counseling just for themselves or some people participate in group therapy that has a specific focus. Alternately, couples or family therapy might be the best therapy arrangement.
As with the mentally ill patient, it’s quite possible for an individual to participate in several different types of mental health counseling at once. People in family therapy may have separate marriage therapy or individual therapy. Those who get individual counseling may also benefit from work in a group.
Probably the most difficult distinction to make is the way each therapist approaches his/her work. Some practice psychoanalysis and have several sessions a week with clients, using the work of Freud or Carl Jung as an interpretive lens. Others work specifically with therapies like cognitive behavioral therapy, or they favor a brief therapy approach. Multiple schools of thought exist on how to practice counseling and many people draw ideas from many of these schools, creating their own blend. Unless a person wants a specific school of therapy, choosing from the different types of mental health counseling would suggest finding a therapist or psychiatrist with whom a person is comfortable.