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Why choose a Psychiatrist?

And, what is the difference between a Psychiatrist, and a Psychologist, and a Psychiatric Social Worker, and a Mental Health Nurse Practitioner?

A psychiatrist is a trained physician who has completed medical school. He or she then continues special training in the field of psychiatry much like other physicians receive specialized training in pediatrics or cardiology. Because of this training, he or she is licensed to both prescribe medication and practice psychotherapy.

A psychiatric evaluation will usually include a one hour or one and a half hour consultation with the patient (and/or family). Because of a psychiatrist’s medical training, he or she may also be able to diagnose an underlying medical condition which may have gone undetected by a non-medical professional who thought  the problem was purely psychological in nature.

A psychologist has a Ph.D. degree, or a PsyD, and has completed an internship in a clinical setting and holds a state license. His or her training focuses on therapy and psychological testing. A psychologist is prohibited from prescribing medication in New Jersey and in most other states.

A licensed psychiatric social worker, or LCSW, has a degree in social work and is also trained and licensed to treat psychological problems. A licensed marriage and family counselor is another type of individual who is trained to provide therapy. His or her background and training varies.

A mental health nurse practitioner (MHNP), also known as a psychiatric nurse practitioner (PNP) or advanced psychiatric nurse practitioner, works in primary care facilities. private practice, outpatient mental health clinics, as well as in hospitals and community health centers. MHNP evaluate and provide care for patients who have anything from psychiatric disorders, medical mental conditions to substance abuse problems. They are licensed to provide emergency psychiatric services, psychosocial and physical assessment of their patients, treatment plans and continually manage their care including psychotherapy and prescribing medication. In order to become a nurse practitioner you must obtain at least six years of college education including a nursing and master's degree.

All of the above, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, mental health nurse practitioners, and marriage and family therapists, are generically referred to as psychotherapists or counselors. Because of his or her medical training, a psychiatrist will ordinarily charge more for treatment services. 

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