Top Doctors 2021

A Breakdown of Mental Health Professionals Who Can Help

Don't let the seasonal depression get the best of you.

By Laura Furr Mericas November 26, 2021 Published in the Fall 2021 issue of Houstonia Magazine

So, you’ve decided it’s time to talk to someone about your mental health. Good on you! That’s a huge step. Next comes picking up the phone. But who do you call? And what professions can best help you with your specific issues? Here’s a quick rundown to guide your research:

  • Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have gone through med school, residencies, and the like. They can prescribe medication to address certain mental illnesses. In addition to traditional talk therapy, these doctors also work with clients on medication management.
  • Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners work under a psychiatrist and can also prescribe medication.
  • Psychologists are commonly referred to as therapists. They have advanced degrees, known as a PsyD, or have earned their PhD in psychology. Therapists have to be licensed in their state to practice and some, like licensed marriage and family therapists, specialize in certain relational or behavioral issues. They focus mainly on talk therapy to help patients understand symptoms and how to work through them.
  • Clinical Mental Health Counselors have earned a master’s degree in counseling and focus on holistic treatment to help people improve their overall mental health through emotional and mental guidance.

You don’t have to wait till burnout sets in. Even at the top of your game, therapy—life coaching included—can help you stay focused on goals and shore up mental and emotional reserves to protect against future adversity.

Rather than solely focusing on the letters behind someone’s name, Angela Koreth, the program manager of outpatient services at the Menninger Clinic, recommends going through personal referrals instead. “Start with people who know you, who might be able to send you to the right people,” she says. The good news, she adds, is since the onset of the pandemic, she’s noticed people are much more open to talking about mental health and therapy. Still, a lot of it comes down to personal connection and a bit of trial and error. “Therapy’s a little bit like dating,” Koreth says. “You have to figure out the right match. And it might take a little while till you find that. So don’t get discouraged.” 

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