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Different Types of Mental Health Providers

A look at psychology, counseling, and social work careers and the associated degree requirements

Many types of mental health professionals offer clinical therapy that helps individuals, couples, and families cope with mental illness or with general life challenges and goals. There are also professionals who work in nonclinical settings like government and nonprofit agencies, victim advocacy centers, or similar organizations. And, there are still others who teach or delve into research.

If you're exploring how to become a mental health provider, it's important to be aware that mental health care specialties, licensing, and job titles can vary by state and by setting. To complicate matters further, different types of psychology, counseling, and social work careers—whether they're in a clinical or a nonclinical setting—may require specific degrees, such as an MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, a Master of Social Work, or even a PhD in Clinical Psychology. Here's an overview of select job titles, brief job descriptions, and the associated required degrees:

Different Types of Mental Health Providers

Clinical Psychologists

Assess mental wellness, diagnose conditions, and provide therapy and interventions as a practitioner, educator, researcher, or consultant. Work with individuals or groups. Job titles include:

  • Clinical psychologist
  • Researcher
  • Consultant
  • Faculty member/instructor
  • Staff psychologist
  • Administrator

Degree: PhD in Clinical Psychology

Median annual pay in 2018: $79,0101

School Counselors

Assess, diagnose, and provide individual and group counseling in school settings. Work with educators and school administration. Job titles include:

  • School counselor
  • Academic counselor
  • Academic advisor
  • Counselor for college or career readiness

Degree: MS in School Counseling

Median annual pay in 2018: $56,3102

Clinical Social Workers

Work in a variety of clinical settings to help promote positive social change in individuals, communities, and society. Job titles include:

  • Licensed clinical social worker
  • Mental health social worker
  • Case worker
  • Direct-service social worker
  • Clinical social worker
  • Child or family social worker
  • School social worker
  • Healthcare social worker
  • Private or public agency leader or director
  • Policy analyst
  • Supervisor in social work field or agency
  • Program director
  • Public health social worker

Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW)

Median annual pay in 2019: $56,8983

Counselors, Clinicians, Therapists

Evaluate, diagnose, and provide therapy using a variety of techniques to help individuals and group clients experience greater well-being. Work with diverse populations across a wide range of professional settings, including:

  • Community mental health centers
  • Wellness centers
  • Public or private hospitals and healthcare settings
  • Domestic violence, emergency, and homeless shelters
  • Residential treatment centers
  • Child and family service agencies
  • Private practice

Degree: Master of Social Work (MSW) or MS in Clinical Mental Health Counseling or PhD in Clinical Psychology

Median annual pay for a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in 2019:$48,1954

Forensic Psychology Professional

Apply expertise in psychology to the justice system through assessments, interviews, treatment, writing reports, and giving testimony. Job titles include:

  • Law enforcement and victim advocate
  • Jury consultant
  • Law enforcement, probation, or correctional officer
  • Researcher
  • Victim advocate
  • Expert witness
  • Court liaison

Degree: PhD in Forensic Psychology or MS in Forensic Psychology

Median annual pay in 2019: $79,0101

Whether your interests are pointing you toward a clinical or a nonclinical path, online study allows you the flexibility to reach your goals. Walden University offers a variety of online degree programs in social work and human services, as well as psychology and counseling, which are designed to help you further your career as you continue to manage life’s many personal and professional commitments.

1Source: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm
2Source: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/community-and-social-service/school-and-career-counselors.htm
3Source: https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Licensed_Clinical_Social_Worker_(LCSW)/Salary
4Source: https://www.payscale.com/research/US/Job=Licensed_Clinical_Professional_Counselor/Salary

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