What Kind of Mindcare Provider Do You Need?
MindPath Care Centers offers quality, evidence-based mindcare services thanks to our diverse team of knowledgeable, compassionate providers. Each of these providers has their own unique combination of skills, experience, and education to help you or your loved one meet your goals.
There are many different types of mindcare providers, which can get confusing. This brief primer can help you understand what each type of mindcare provider does. (Please note that these definitions only apply in the United States.)
MindPath Care Centers recognizes that finding the right specialist is a personal and subjective decision. If we do not connect you with the right match the first time, let us know. Our goal is to connect you with a provider who you are completely comfortable with, and we have many excellent providers to choose from.
Do you need a diagnosis?
If yes, a good first step will be to get an initial assessment. Here are a couple more questions:
Are you experiencing physical or emotional symptoms?
If you are experiencing more physical symptoms, we recommend talking with a Psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner (PMHNP), a Doctorate in Nurse Practitioner (DNP) or a Physician Assistant (PA or PA-C).
If you are experiencing both, then you can get an initial assessment from any of our providers and then will help you determine the next step.
Do you want to learn more about medication treatment options or continue a medication regimen?
Do you want to talk about your behavioral and emotional challenges and learn coping skills?
If yes, then we recommend you get an assessment with a Psychologist, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) or a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC). If you are experiencing both, then you can get an initial assessment from any of our providers and then will help you determine the next step.
If you have multiple conditions or a more complex case, you may be referred to a psychiatrist. Due to misinformation in TV, film and other media, many people think they need a psychiatrist when they may not. Often times a PMHNP or a PA would be the right match for people who are seeking a mindcare diagnosis and/or need help managing a medication. The added bonus to working with a PMHNP or PA is that they often have more availability. On your first visit, we recommend you start by working with a PMHNP or PA who can assess your needs and determine next steps.
If you already have a professional diagnosis and do not want to explore medication options right now then we recommend a Psychologist, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) or a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC) for individual therapy or counseling, commonly referred to as “talk therapy,” which involves talking with a psychologist or other type of therapist. Psychotherapy also may involve learning healthier habits under a therapist’s guidance.
Types of Mindcare Providers
Psychiatrists are medical doctors who graduated from medical school, like any other physician. Just as a cardiologist receives specific training in heart health, or an oncologist receives specialist training in cancer, a psychiatrist has received special training in mental health and the brain. Psychiatrists can diagnose illnesses, prescribe medication, order tests, recommend or administer other types of therapies, and manage treatment.
As physicians, psychiatrists can order or perform many different exams that give them a fuller picture of a patient’s physical and mental state. With their education and clinical training, they can understand the complex relationship between physical and mental health, including genetics and family history. Psychiatrists work in many different settings, including private practices, clinics and hospitals, university medical centers, and community or government agencies.
- Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
- Doctorate in Nurse Practitioner (DNP)
- Advanced Practice Nurse (APN)
- Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)
A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse who has also earned either a master’s degree or a doctorate and has specialized training in mental health. These advanced degrees give them education and training in specific patient populations, such as pediatrics, or specific types of medicine, such as psychiatry.
PMHNPs, DNPs, APNs and FNPs provide a level of care similar to that of a physician. These nurse practitioners can examine patients, order diagnostic tests, diagnose many illnesses, and prescribe most types of medications. MindPath’s nurse practitioners work in collaboration with the MindPath psychiatrists. Some states allow PMHNPs to practice independently, though they may still consult with a physician for certain cases. Many patients see an FNP as their primary physical care or mindcare provider.
A physician assistant (PA or PA-C) is a medical professional who has earned a master’s degree and is trained to examine patients, diagnose illnesses, prescribe some medications, and create and manage treatment plans. They may be trained in primary care or a medical specialty, and work in many different healthcare settings, in collaboration with a licensed physician. Besides their master’s degree, PAs must undergo thousands of hours of medical training.
Both NPs and PAs are independently licensed providers who, though they are not doctors, can perform many of the same tasks. Like an NP, a PA may serve as a patient’s primary source of physical care or mindcare.
A psychologist is a professional with an advanced degree in psychology, meaning they have studied the human mind, how it works, and how it influences behavior. A psychologist may see patients as a therapist, or they may work in research.
A psychologist can diagnose many mental or behavioral health concerns and can recommend the best treatment. They can provide psychotherapy, or talk therapy, and guide a patient toward a better understanding of themselves and help them make healthier decisions. While a psychologist cannot prescribe medication, they may work with, or recommend, a psychiatrist who can.
Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor
A Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor (LCMHC) works with individuals and families, providing professional counseling and mental therapy to help cope with many different challenges. LCMHCs usually have a master’s degree in Counseling, followed by additional training to receive a license to operate.
Many LPCs provide therapy to clients in private practice but cannot diagnose illnesses or prescribe medication. However, they have the flexibility to provide or recommend many different approaches or therapies, depending on their client’s specific needs. LPCs work with a client to establish a professional, trusted relationship and understand their specific situation and needs, and how best to address them.