Which Behavioral Health Career Path May Be Right for You?
Behavioral health professionals treat the emotional, behavioral, and biological elements that impact an individual’s physical and mental well-being. These professionals include psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, and licensed mental health counselors. They may treat psychological or physical concerns such as substance use or eating disorders, depression, anxiety or mood disorders, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or marital or other relationship problems.
There is a substantial need for behavioral health professionals in the United States. Although millions of people live with mild to severe behavioral health issues, a significant number remain undiagnosed and untreated. This is especially true for veterans, people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and rural residents.
If you are ready to begin or change your career, consider becoming a behavioral health professional. Understanding the educational background, specialization, treatment approaches, and ability to prescribe medication helps determine whether a role fits your goals and interests.
Use this information to determine whether a behavioral health career path may be right for you.
A psychiatrist is a doctor who finished a residency program in psychiatry. They have advanced training in mental health and can prescribe medication to help with mental health conditions.
A psychiatrist may provide treatments such as talk therapy, psychosocial interventions, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). They typically prescribe patients medication and refer them for counseling services.
A clinical psychologist has a doctorate degree and works with individuals who have behavioral health issues. They may specialize in an area such as substance use disorders, depression, child mental health, or geriatric mental health.
A clinical psychologist may work in a rehabilitation center, community organization, government agency, or research facility. They use interviews and observations to diagnose and treat mental health conditions.
Talk therapy often is used to help clients understand and cope with their disorders. This process includes recognizing and overcoming negative thought patterns and other triggers for the behaviors. Individual, group, family, or a combination of therapy sessions are typical.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker
A licensed clinical social worker has a master’s degree in social work and is licensed by the state. They specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders.
A licensed clinical social worker may work in a rehabilitation facility to treat individuals with substance use and mental disorders. They assess, diagnose, treat, and help prevent mental illness and other emotional or behavioral disturbances. The social worker also helps individuals identify and develop their strengths and skills to manage their issues through individual and group talk therapy.
Community-based interventions that assist individuals with housing, food stamps, rent assistance, or employment needs are common. The same is true for long-term help for individuals with chronic disorders. Working with child and family services to provide routine support services and help in crisis situations is typical.
Ready to Begin Your Behavioral Health Career?
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