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Psychology is a science of the human mind and behavior. It is robust in its approach to understanding, learning, and accepting different human behaviors and their causes. People who choose to study this discipline learn about human cognition, memory, emotions, intellectual ability, perception, and many more concepts. Soon, after gaining a basic understanding of the subject of psychology, students decide their field of specialization. They decide their goals and aspirations and the kind of mental health professional they want to become.

Do we really need mental health professionals, though?

Well, as a matter of fact, we do (desperately)!

According to the WHO, 56 million Indians suffer from depression and another 38 million suffer from anxiety disorders. Given the number of cases of rising mental health issues in India, the number of mental health professionals required to cater to their needs is frightening. To know more about it read this article by The Hans India.

Mental health professionals vary depending on their field of interest and the intensity of mental health issues they can cater to. Most of the time, we get confused given the diverse nomenclature this field entails. It is very convenient to label all of them as “Pagalo ke doctor”—doctors for maniacs; if only things were so easy in reality.

What we will discuss today are some really common mental health professionals. Let me tell you in advance that this will not be an exhaustive list, as there are a wide variety of mental health professionals. But, I will try my best to cover the most of them in this post.


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They are doctors (really). Psychiatrists do their M.B.B.S and then they go further ahead to specialize in mental health disorders and their treatment. Of all the mental health professionals, only they are licensed to prescribe medication to patients. They usually work in hospital settings and deal with severely mentally ill patients. Nowadays therapy is accompanied by medication as medicines alone are less likely to cure disorders like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, major depression, etc.

Psychiatrists work closely with clinical psychologists usually—which is our next category.

Clinical Psychologists

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They are almost similar to psychiatrists, with the exception of not being able to prescribe medication to their patients. They do not need to, because clinical psychologists specialize in dealing with the practical aspects of treatment and have a therapeutic approach.

Clinical psychologists can do assessment and diagnosis and can treat severe mental health disorders like personality disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders, etc. They can also deal with addiction and rehabilitation. Apart from dealing with higher-order mental disorders, they can deal with relatively mild mental health issues like panic attacks, mild anxiety, stress, and so on. In India, people often confuse clinical psychologists with psychiatrists. Hopefully, the difference is clear.

Counselling Psychologists

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They deal with everyday issues in someone’s life. You can go to a counseling psychologist for work-life stress, relationship issues, personal well-being, etc. Counselling psychologists have a general approach to mental health problems. They can specialize in psychotherapies (psychotherapist is a broad term and can include both clinical and counselling psychologists).

Counselling psychologists can work as private practitioners, in school settings, in an organization, in career development, or in vocational therapy. It depends on their interests and the sub-field they want to choose.


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This is not an independent category, and a wide variety of mental health professionals can fall under the spectrum of psychotherapists. They specialize in some of the other kinds of therapy, like psychoanalysis, behavioral therapy, cognitive therapy, Gestalt therapy, and so on. Hence, depending on the type of therapy a professional chooses, the treatment style can differ based on it.

(Note: That is why you might find that different mental health professionals practice different ways of dealing with clients and, therefore, you might like one and not another, which is completely fine.)

Industrial and Organizational Psychologists

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They use psychological principles to increase employee productivity in the workplace. They are appointed by the organisation to develop programs that help increase productivity, performance, and satisfaction among employees.

Forensic Psychologists

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This field of psychology deals with the psychological aspects of legal processes. They are mental health professionals and behavioral experts. Their work is of the utmost importance in judicial processes. They deal with criminals and investigate psychological problems linked to criminal behavior and also the treatment of those who have committed offences.

As I See It

Most therapists are very good. Despite that, a few people who want to go for therapy face issues. No matter what is the qualification of your therapist, no matter if they completed their education in India or abroad, take one session with them before committing long-term because you might or might not like their therapy style. That is not because they are bad at their job; it is just that they might not be best suited for YOU! And it is fine, and it happens more often than you know.

You can also check our post on The Myth And The Truth About Therapy

The main thing is that your mental health should be your priority at all costs. There is always someone better suited for your personal issues, and don’t stop until you find that one mental health professional…