Start a Career That Sparks Change: 8 Different Types of Mental Health Professions

Start a Career That Sparks Change: 8 Different Types of Mental Health Professions

Poor mental health has become a big topic lately in the United States. 90% of adults believe that we are in the midst of a mental health crisis.

It’s easy to see where they get this impression. Social media and online forums discuss how even people without serious problems can benefit from therapy and self-care. As a result, mental health professions are seeing a boom in business.

Working in therapy is not the only option available to you. Mental health careers span from couples counseling to adolescent social work. If mental health is something you enjoy working with, there is a good chance you can find a career that suits you.

Follow along as we discuss eight popular mental health professions that cover very different fields in mental health.

  1. The Most Popular of Mental Health Professions: Psychologists

Psychologists take on an arduous Ph.D. to work in the field of psychology. The human mind is a fascinating–and confusing–thing that requires so many careers in mental health fields to comprehend it. Even the most skilled psychologists struggle to understand our complex minds.

The thing to understand if you become a psychologist is that therapy is only the beginning of what you might do. You can specialize in certain areas, such as severe mental illnesses. Or, you can do family counseling and so on.

  1. Psychiatrists

Think of psychiatrists as a sister field to psychology. Psychologists attempt to diagnose and solve problems through analysis and therapy. But psychiatrists use physical means: medicine, lab tests, and physical exams.

A psychiatrist will ask you questions to analyze your condition. But this won’t be like therapy where you sit down and talk about your problems at length.

For example, only a psychiatrist can give you antidepressants. Psychologists, in most cases, do not have the ability to prescribe them. Becoming a licensed therapist in addition to psychiatry would require more studies.

  1. Psychoanalyst

This particular field can be a bit controversial among patients and doctors. Psychoanalysis follow in the footsteps of Freud, also a controversial figure. The field revolves around understanding one’s deepest desires and internal conflicts.

However, this field has no state or federal backing. In theory, anyone (regardless of education or licensing) can become a psychoanalyst. You do not need to become a therapist to work as a psychoanalyst.

  1. Psychiatric Nurse

Becoming a psychiatrist requires a lot of education and experience. Needless to say, it’s not for everyone. For those who want to work in the same field, but with less responsibility and stress, becoming a psychiatric nurse is a good option.

You work under the direction of a medical doctor for any psychiatric cases. So you are in a position between common medicine and psychology.

  1. Psychotherapist

It’s easy to confuse psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. But these are two very different fields. Primarily, a psychotherapist does require an official education.

Psychotherapists focus on talk therapy to analyze and solve problems. If you have gone in for CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) then you have seen a psychotherapist.

If you are good at talking and helping people to reason through problems, this will be your ideal career path.

  1. Mental Health Counselor

Counselors are a lot like therapists, but serve in a much more general capacity. A perfect example would be a school counselor, who talks to troubled students. They tend to work under a larger organization and provide counseling services to organization members who need them.

If you choose to become a health counselor, you may find yourself working all over the place. School counselors, job counselors, business counselors, and so on. This is a job that has far less patient involvement than other mental health careers.

Counselors often see brand-new patients on a daily basis. This is unlike a therapist, where people usually schedule repeated visits.

  1. Family and Marriage Counselor

Marriage and family relationships can get incredibly messy, and an important next step is to head to therapy. You may be working with a couple, their children, and even extended family members. It’s a challenging job that requires you to understand complex family dynamics.

These are group therapy sessions that require you to arbitrate between parties. For example, a married couple that is contemplating divorce. You identify key issues, and teach them how to compromise for the health of the overall relationship.

This can be a very depressing and satisfying job. You will see relationships fail, but save many others. It will give you a renewed appreciation for the people that fight tooth and nail to keep their partnerships.

  1. Addiction Counselor

Addiction is as much about the mind as it is about the body. Alcoholics, opioid addicts, and even those addicted to porn will come to you for help. This may even include uncommon addictions, such as hoarding.

Addiction counselors help to identify the triggers for addiction, and how to overcome the urges. They work with patients long-term as they try to avoid relapse and replace addictions with good habits.

This is a job that requires an incredible amount of patience. You will have to have a lot of faith in your patients as they overcome their addictions and move on. But it always pays off when one day they can say that they are clean.

Make Mental Health Your Career

Mental health professions are as wide and varied as they are complex. You work with everything from addiction to relationship issues, using talk therapy or medicine to solve problems. Most careers in psychology require you to get a license, but there are some that do not.

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