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Mental Health Specialties: Side-By-Side Comparison

Mental health providers often use different training paths to achieve their career goals. Families should be aware of the differences in provider specialties and what the different providers are able to offer.

Take a look at this short video or read on below the video to learn more and get links to provider professional societies.

Note: Not all mental health professionals in Ohio are licensed; however, you can quickly determine whether a professional is licensed by calling the State of Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & Marriage and Family Therapist Board or by using the online Ohio License Center.

Struggling to choose a mental health provider to work with your family? See our Choosing a Mental Health Provider How-to Guide.

Behavioral Intervention Specialist

These providers use principles of applied behavioral analysis (ABA) and/or other behavioral interventions to understand the nature of a behavior and develop a treatment plan to replace behaviors with appropriate coping skills. ABA treatment plans should be developed by board-certified behavior analysts (BCBAs); however, treatment can be completed by anyone who has been trained in ABA.

Learn more about Behavior Intervention Specialists at the Behavior Analyst Certification Board website.

Licensed Social Worker

Social workers help people overcome social and health problems by providing a range of services. Most social workers have a masters or more advanced degree; however, social workers who provide mental health services (Clinical Social Workers) have additional specialized training. Like Licensed Professional Counselors, Clinical Social Workers may provide more affordable therapy options and may be easier to schedule.

Learn more about Licensed Social Workers at the National Association of Social Workers website.

Early Intervention Specialist

These specialists work with county boards of developmental disabilities to screen young children (birth to 3 years) and coordinate treatment, including therapies, counseling, medical services and family support.

Psychiatrist (including Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist)

Psychiatrists are licensed physicians (M.D. or D.O.) who specialize in mental health. Some psychiatrists further specialize in areas such as child and adolescent, geriatric or addiction psychiatry. As physicians, psychiatrists can prescribe and monitor medications.

Child and adolescent psychiatrists have two additional years of advanced training beyond general psychiatry with children, adolescents and families. They can conduct medical/psychiatric evaluations and provide a full range of treatment interventions.

Learn more about psychiatrists at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry website.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFTs or LIMFTs)

These therapists help with a wide array of relationship issues within the context of the family system, including emotional disorders, and help you resolve conflicts or problems relating to marriage and family issues. Marriage and Family Therapists broaden the traditional emphasis on the individual to attend to the nature and role of individuals in primary relationship networks such as marriage and the family.


In the state of Ohio, psychologists must possess a doctoral degree (Ph.D., Psy.D, or Ed.D) in clinical, educational, counseling, developmental or research psychology. Psychologists conduct psychological evaluations and provide treatment for emotional and behavioral problems and disorders. Psychologists can also conduct psychological testing and assessments.

Learn more about psychologists at the American Psychological Association website.

Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC, LPCC, LPCC-S)

Also called Clinical Mental Health Counselors, these professionals combine traditional psychotherapy with a practical, problem-solving approach. Because the educational requirements for this specialty are typically less than psychologists and psychiatrists (master’s degree or higher), these professionals often have lower hourly rates and may have more availability.

Learn more about Licensed Professional Counselors at the American Mental Health Counselors Association website.

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Westlake, Ohio 44145

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