Choosing a Mental Health Professional

Learn about common types of therapists and what differentiates them.

Psychologists: A psychologist in the state of New York must have a doctorate (Ph.D., PsyD) in psychology and two years of supervised activities.

Psychiatrists: A psychiatrist has a medical degree, which allows them to prescribe mental health medication.

Counselors (Mental Health Counselor/Licensed Mental Health Counselor): A counselor, Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), or Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) is a mental health professional and type of therapist whose career focus is generally extended to individuals, couples, and families in need of talk therapy. In New York State, a counselor is required to have a master's degree or higher and 3,000 hours of post-master's supervised experience

Psychoanalysts: Psychoanalysis is the process most associated with Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. It offers a free environment to patients in order to go deep into the subconscious and discover the root of behaviors, desires, and habits and the effects of an immediate environment. A psychoanalyst must have a master's degree or higher and 1500 hours of supervised clinical practice

Marriage and Family Therapists: Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) are a similar type of therapist to a LPC in that they offer a variety of dynamics of psychotherapy, including talk, analysis, and solutions. MFTs focus on the dynamics of marriage between both parties and the larger dynamic of family relationships. Oftentimes, sessions with a Marriage and Family Therapist will consist of a gathering inclusive to all parties involved—both married partners, or the entire family. During other sessions, the therapist may choose to have one-on-one time with each individual, working toward better communication skills or an open environment within the family dynamic. MFTs must have a master's degree or higher as well as 1500 hours of supervised clinical experience.

Creative Arts Therapists (Music/Art Therapists): In this type of therapy, professionals use music or art as a way to help individuals overcome issues.  NYS regulations require a master's degree or higher and 1500 hours of post-master's supervision in creative arts therapies.

Rehabilitation Counselors: Rehabilitation counselors help people handle the intense emotional and social effects that come from dealing with a disability.

Social Workers (LCSW, MSW): New York requires that practicing social workers have a master's in social work with at least 12 semester hours of clinical coursework and 3 years post-MSW supervised experience in diagnosis, psychotherapy, and assessment-based treatment. 


HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT THERAPIST: Finding the right therapist means sitting down with and talking to them. Every person is different, their needs are different, and what the therapist can do is different. Check HERE for information about how to find YOUR right therapist.


NOTE: In order to have the widest choice of therapists when considering therapy, it is best to find out whether your insurance policy covers therapists who are not in your network (out-of-network providers). If  you have coverage for out-of-network providers, ask about the amount of coverage per session and how much of a deductible you have.   


Related reading on PSP

Resources and Advice About Therapy

Reviews for Mental Health Professionals


Related reading around the web

See the New York Times article "In Therapy Forever? Enough Already" to help you figure out whether you're getting the most out of therapy.


Important Message from Park Slope Parents (PSP): Just a reminder, PSP member posts are not checked for accuracy. The content is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice. is not intended to, and does not, provide medical advice diagnosis or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice, or delay in seeking it, because of something you have read on the PSP groups or on the website. Never rely on information in an e-mail or on our web site in place of seeking professional medical advice.