ON THE COUCH: Choosing a therapist

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Some 37,000 professionals in Massachusetts have state licenses to provide mental health services. If they have advanced degrees and state authorization to practice without supervision, they are typically covered by major insurance carriers.

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2,858

PSYCHIATRIST: total licensed

Holds M.D. degree with psychiatry specialty. They can prescribe medications, as well as provide psychotherapy (talk therapy) services. Licensed and regulated by the Board of Registration of Medicine.

PSYCHOLOGIST: 5,469

Holds Doctoral-level credentials, such as Ph.D, Psy.D or Ed.D degrees. They specialize in a wide range of psychotherapy, with some acting as generalists while others have specific expertise. Licensed and regulated by the Board of Registration of Psychologists.

EDUCATIONAL PSYCHOLOGIST: 407

Holds a master’s degree or doctoral degree in a school of psychology. They deliver services to individuals and groups that promote mental health and learning. Licensed by the Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professionals.

MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPIST: 715

Holds a master’s or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy or related field. They use psychotherapy to help individuals, couples and families. Licensed by the Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professionals.

MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELOR: 5,219

Holds master’s or doctoral degree in counseling or related field. They provide mental health services aimed at prevention and treatment. Licensed by the Board of Registration of Allied Mental Health and Human Services Professionals.

PSYCHIATRIC NURSE MENTAL HEALTH CLINICAL SPECIALIST*: 895

Holds degree in graduate nursing program for this psychiatric specialty. In collaboration with a supervising physician, they can prescribe some medications, and they also can also provide psychotherapy. Licensed by the Massachusetts Nursing Board.

LICENSED INDEPENDENT CLINICAL SOCIAL WORKER: 12,681

Holds a master’s or doctoral degree in social work. They work, without supervision, to provide mental health services, as well as help people improve their daily lives, such as helping them find work or housing. Licensed by the Board of Registration of Social Workers.

LICENSED CERTIFIED SOCIAL WORKER: 5094

Holds a master’s or doctoral degree in social work. They work, but only with supervision, to provide mental health and social services. Licensed by the Board of Registration of Social Workers.

LICENSED SOCIAL WORKER: 2883

Holds a bachelor’s degree in social work, or has some college education, plus training in social work. They provide, with supervision, non-clinical social work services. Licensed by the Board of Registration of Social Workers.

LICENSED SOCIAL WORKER ASSOCIATE: 1161

Holds a bachelor’s degree in any field, or some college with training in social work. Under supervision, they provide social work functions. Licensed by the Board of Registration of Medicine.

*Psychiatric nurse practitioners are similar to psychiatric nurse mental health clinical specialists in terms of training and what they can do. The nursing board, however, did not have the total number in this field.

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