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MU Psych Central – Inside Mental Health

Susquehanna Behavioral Health providers shed light on mental health help


by Dr Nicolle Mayo - August 5, 2015

In many cases, people confuse mental health providers and the differences among psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and many others. Though this is common and natural for those who do not fully understand the psychology profession, it can be helpful to differentiate between various providers, especially when it comes to seeking mental health.

Susquehanna Behavioral Health focuses on providing effective mental health treatment. As such, this organization houses a vast array of mental health providers, including psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, and marriage and family therapists. This makes an excellent backdrop for interviewing a host of mental health providers in order to clear up some of the confusion about what role each provider maintains, how each one provides treatment, and how they collaborate with one another through this process.

As was explained in the interview, psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize mainly in preventing, diagnosing, and treating mental illness by prescribing medication. Typically, they might take a short-term approach to providing therapy and refer to another mental health provider if longer-term treatment is needed. A predominant focus, here, is managing medication and monitoring its effects on any client’s mental health and well-being.

Psychologists are also doctorally trained to do research and/or teach in academia, but can perform therapy if licensed, diagnose disorders, and determine appropriate client treatments. Licensure is gained after conducting thousands of hours of therapy and supervision from an approved supervisor and taking a national exam to prove a solid knowledge base and practice. Psychologists are not medical doctors, though they specialize in many areas to treat clients, including, anxiety, depression, grief, trauma, or other areas in which they received more specialized training. Many psychologists are also equipped to conduct formal assessments related to personality, intelligence, and mental health diagnoses in order to develop a more comprehensive treatment plan for their clients.

Social workers need a Master’s degree in social work and training to further evaluate and treat mental illnesses. Additional clinical licensure to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), similar to the hours accumulated by psychologists, is needed for client evaluation and treatment. If a social worker is not licensed, he or she is not qualified to provide therapy to clients. If not licensed, the social worker usually works with clients and/ or their families to cope and process trauma and illness, specifically in hospital and other community agency settings. They also advocate and assist clients in accessing appropriate community resources based on their individual needs.

Marriage and family therapists are clinicians who hold at least a Master’s degree and licensure in their field. Again, for any licensure, testing and training, which encompass thousands of hours of client and supervision contact, are required. Marriage and family therapists usually take a systemic approach to therapy, viewing people and their presenting problems in relation to others and the resulting interacting patterns and dynamics. Work with couples and families are an important part of the work, however, pre-marital counseling, and individual treatment is also practiced in a variety of specialty areas.

Each mental health professional not only has training in their particular field, but in specialty areas depending on experience and areas of interest. Specialty areas span from age and include, children, adolescents, college students, and adults. They also include various diagnoses like, depression, anxiety, trauma, eating disorders, schizophrenia, addiction, and many more found in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual; this manual details the signs and symptoms of all diagnosable disorders. Life circumstances are also areas of expertise, including grief and loss, divorce, unemployment, miscarriage, moving, infertility, abuse, and general life transitions.

Not all mental health professionals provide therapy; however, as seen in the Susquehanna Behavioral Health organization interview, all of their mental health providers specialize in psychiatry and are trained to provide therapy within their domains of expertise. In behavioral health agencies like Susquehanna Behavioral Health, collaborating with colleagues on effective treatments for various problems can also be very helpful in influencing therapy practices in positive ways.

Although there are differences, many mental health providers also have some similarities. With the advancement in collaboration, similarities in training, and common goals to foster positive well-being in clientele, many different mental health professionals may have similar areas of expertise, but perhaps different therapeutic ways of treating. To find a mental health professional to help you journey to positive mental health, do not be afraid to contact more than one to identify which one might be a good fit for you based on comfort, your presenting concerns, affordability, and accessibility. As was noted in the interview, it is so important that you can talk with someone with whom you can foster a positive and safe relationship with in order to gain your mental health back!

MU Psych Central is supported by the Mansfield Psychology Department, which includes Dr. Gretchen Sechrist, Department Chair and Associate Professor, who specializes in Social Psychology, Dr. Joy Patricia Burke, who holds expertise in educational psychology and specializes in school counseling, Dr. Brian Loher, Professor, our Human Resource Management specialist, Dr. Francis Craig, Professor, expert in Mind/Body Health, Dr. Karri Verno, Associate Professor, who specializes in Lifespan Development and Forensic Psychology and Nicolle Mayo, Assistant Professor, expert in Marriage and Family Therapy.


Writing: N/A

Photography: N/A,


Produced by Vogt Media

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