Who Can Provide Therapy?

Source: Mayo Clinic, WebMD

What is psychological therapy?

Psychological therapy involves talking with a therapist in order to address mental health concerns, deal with life’s stresses and conflicts, and develop healthy coping skills. Psychological therapy is also known as psychotherapy, talk therapy, counseling, or therapy in general. Therapists help with learning to cope with thoughts, feelings and behaviors that oftentimes accompany chronic pain. Pain frequently results in mental health problems, and mental health conditions cause increased pain sensitivity. These physical and emotional difficulties can create a vicious cycle.

Who can provide therapy in the United States?

In the United States, therapy can be provided by the following:

  • Psychiatrist — a medical doctor whose focus is on mental illness and can prescribe medications
  • Psychologist — an individual who has a doctoral degree in psychology, but is not a medical doctor and generally cannot prescribe medications
  • Licensed Mental Health Counselor or Therapist — a mental health professional who has a master’s degree in psychology, counseling, or a related field, plus additional mental health training following graduate school
  • Clinical Social Worker — an individual who has a master’s degree in social work, plus additional training in evaluating and treating mental health conditions
  • Psychiatric or Mental Health Nurse — a nurse who has completed specialized training in providing mental health services

Who can provide therapy in Canada?

In Canada, many of these same professionals as in the U.S. can provide therapy, including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and nurses. In addition, family physicians who have additional training in counseling may provide therapy.

It is important to note that the term “therapist” or “counselor” is not regulated in most Canadian provinces. Therefore, individuals with varying backgrounds and amounts of training may use these terms. This includes those with training in education, occupational therapy, marriage and family therapy, or clergy.

Finding a therapist

Individuals seeking therapy can find a therapist through a referral from a physician or a recommendation by an insurance company, professional association, or trusted family member or friend. Before making an appointment, an individual should check the therapist’s background, education, certification, and licensing in order to ensure that they will receive professional and high-quality care.

Additional sources: Informed Choices about Depression and Canada Psychological Association