Disclaimer: The information in the article isn't intended to diagnose, treat or cure any known or unknown disease or illness.

Types of Mental Health Providers You May Encounter in Missouri

When it comes to seeking professional help for mental health concerns, it's essential to have a clear understanding of the different types of mental health providers available in Missouri.

October 22, 2023

Understanding Mental Health Providers in Missouri

When it comes to seeking professional help for mental health concerns, it's essential to have a clear understanding of the different types of mental health providers available in Missouri. These professionals play a crucial role in supporting individuals on their journey to recovery.

The Importance of Seeking Professional Help

Seeking professional help for mental health concerns is an important step towards overall well-being. Mental health providers are trained experts who specialize in diagnosing and treating various mental health conditions. They have the knowledge and expertise to provide support, guidance, and evidence-based treatments that can significantly improve an individual's mental health.

It's important to remember that mental health concerns are common and treatable. Seeking help from a mental health provider can provide individuals with the necessary tools and strategies to manage their symptoms, improve their quality of life, and enhance their overall mental well-being.

Different Types of Mental Health Providers

Free photo man sitting in the psychologist's office and talking about problems

In Missouri, there are several types of mental health providers who can offer support and treatment for mental health concerns. The most common types of providers include psychiatrists, psychologists, licensed professional counselors (LPC), and social workers. Each of these professionals has a unique role and set of qualifications.

Mental Health Provider Role and Responsibilities
Psychiatrists Medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of mental health conditions. They are licensed to prescribe medication and may also provide therapy. For more information, refer to our article on psychiatrists in Missouri.
Psychologists Trained mental health professionals who specialize in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of various mental health conditions through therapy and counseling. They do not prescribe medication. For more information, refer to our article on psychologists in Missouri.
Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) Trained professionals who provide counseling and therapy to individuals, couples, and families. They help individuals develop coping strategies, improve relationships, and address mental health concerns. For more information, refer to our article on counselors in Missouri.
Social Workers Professionals who provide a range of services, including counseling, case management, and advocacy. They help individuals navigate social systems, access resources, and provide support in various mental health settings. For more information, refer to our article on social workers in Missouri.

Understanding the role and responsibilities of each mental health provider can help individuals make informed decisions when seeking professional help. It's important to find a provider who aligns with your specific needs and preferences. Remember that effective treatment often involves a collaborative approach, where different professionals may work together to provide comprehensive care.

By familiarizing yourself with the different types of mental health providers available in Missouri, you can make well-informed decisions about the type of professional you may want to seek assistance from. Consider factors such as the specific services offered, expertise, and your own personal preferences when choosing a mental health provider.


Psychiatrists play a vital role in the field of mental health, specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of mental illnesses. They are medical doctors who have received extensive training in both general medicine and psychiatry. In Missouri, there are numerous skilled psychiatrists who can provide the necessary care and support for individuals seeking mental health treatment.

Role and Responsibilities of Psychiatrists

Psychiatrists are uniquely qualified to address mental health concerns through a comprehensive and holistic approach. They have the expertise to assess, diagnose, and treat a wide range of mental disorders, including but not limited to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and substance use disorders. Some of the key responsibilities of psychiatrists include:

  • Conducting thorough psychiatric evaluations to gather information about a patient's symptoms, medical history, and overall well-being.
  • Diagnosing mental health conditions based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).
  • Developing personalized treatment plans that may include medication management, psychotherapy, and other therapeutic interventions.
  • Monitoring the progress of patients through regular follow-ups, making adjustments to treatment as needed.
  • Collaborating with other healthcare professionals, such as psychologists, counselors, and social workers, to provide comprehensive care.

Training and Qualifications

To become a psychiatrist in Missouri, individuals must complete extensive education and training. After obtaining a bachelor's degree, aspiring psychiatrists must attend medical school to earn a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) degree. Following medical school, psychiatrists undergo residency training in psychiatry, which typically lasts four years.

During their residency, psychiatrists gain hands-on experience by working in various clinical settings, including hospitals, clinics, and outpatient facilities. This training allows them to develop the necessary skills to assess, diagnose, and treat mental health conditions effectively.

Additionally, psychiatrists may choose to pursue specialized fellowship training in areas such as child and adolescent psychiatry, geriatric psychiatry, addiction psychiatry, or forensic psychiatry. These additional training programs enable them to focus on specific patient populations or areas of expertise.

What to Expect from a Psychiatrist

When seeking care from a psychiatrist in Missouri, it's important to know what to expect during your appointments. Psychiatrists typically conduct comprehensive evaluations during the initial visit to gather information about your symptoms, medical history, and any previous treatments. This evaluation helps them formulate an accurate diagnosis and develop an individualized treatment plan.

Treatment plans may involve a combination of medication management and psychotherapy. Psychiatrists have the expertise to prescribe psychiatric medications, monitor their effectiveness, and adjust dosages as needed. They may also provide therapy themselves or refer patients to psychologists or counselors for talk therapy.

During follow-up appointments, psychiatrists assess your progress, address any concerns or side effects related to medication, and make necessary adjustments to your treatment plan. They play a crucial role in ongoing care and can provide valuable support as you navigate your mental health journey.

Remember, if you're seeking care from a psychiatrist, it's essential to communicate openly and honestly about your symptoms, concerns, and goals. Building a trusting and collaborative relationship with your psychiatrist is key to receiving effective and personalized care.

In addition to psychiatrists, there are other mental health providers in Missouri who can offer a range of services.


Psychologists play a vital role in the field of mental health, offering valuable services to individuals seeking support and guidance. If you are considering seeking help from a mental health provider in Missouri, understanding the role, responsibilities, training, and qualifications of psychologists is essential.

Role and Responsibilities of Psychologists

Psychologists are trained professionals who specialize in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of mental and emotional disorders. Their primary responsibility is to help individuals navigate their mental health challenges and improve their overall well-being.

Psychologists employ various therapeutic techniques and interventions to address a wide range of concerns, such as anxiety, depression, trauma, addiction, and relationship issues. They often work in collaboration with other healthcare professionals to ensure comprehensive care for their clients.

In addition to providing individual therapy, psychologists may also conduct psychological assessments, perform research, and offer group therapy sessions. They create a safe and supportive environment where individuals can explore their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, with the goal of developing healthy coping strategies and achieving personal growth.

There are several different types of psychologists that specialize in different areas:

  • Cognitive: focused on thoughts, intelligence, memory, and decision making with more of an incorporation of neuroscience
  • Climate & Environment: Focused on how humans interact with and are affected by the environment, including climate change
  • Developmental: Focuses on studying people across the lifespan, form infants or older adults
  • Experimental: Focuses on use experiences ot study humans cognition and behavior
  • Forensic & Public Service: Focuses on supporting public safety through involvement with the legal/judicial system
  • Clinical and Counseling: Focused on functioning, well-being, and pathology in individuals. This is the therapist you think of when you hear “psychologist”. They also may focus more on official diagnosis with in depth assessments.

Training and Qualifications

To become a licensed psychologist in Missouri, individuals must complete a rigorous educational and training journey. This typically involves obtaining a doctoral degree in psychology, such as a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) or a Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (Ph.D.). These programs focus on developing advanced clinical skills, research expertise, and a deep understanding of human behavior.

After completing their doctoral degree, aspiring psychologists must also fulfill supervised clinical experience requirements and pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP) to obtain licensure. Continuing education and ongoing professional development are essential for psychologists to stay updated with the latest research and treatment approaches.

What to Expect from a Psychologist

When you seek help from a psychologist in Missouri, you can expect a compassionate and non-judgmental approach to your mental health concerns. Initially, the psychologist will conduct an assessment to gain a comprehensive understanding of your specific needs, concerns, and goals. This evaluation may involve interviews, psychological tests, and questionnaires.

Based on the assessment, the psychologist will collaborate with you to develop a personalized treatment plan. This plan may include individual therapy sessions, group therapy, or referrals to other mental health professionals if necessary. Throughout the therapeutic process, psychologists provide evidence-based interventions, support, and guidance to help you navigate and overcome your mental health challenges.

It's important to note that psychologists cannot prescribe medication. However, they may work closely with psychiatrists or other healthcare providers who can offer medication management if required.

If you're considering seeking help from a mental health provider in Missouri, psychologists are a valuable resource. Their expertise and dedication to improving mental well-being can provide the support you need to navigate life's challenges.

Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC)

Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) play a crucial role in providing mental health support and guidance to individuals in Missouri. They are trained professionals who specialize in counseling and therapy services. In this section, we will explore the role and responsibilities of LPCs, their training and qualifications, and what you can expect when working with them.

Role and Responsibilities of LPCs

LPCs are mental health professionals who work with individuals, couples, families, and groups to address a wide range of mental health concerns. Their primary role is to provide counseling and therapy services to help clients navigate through various challenges and improve their overall well-being.

The responsibilities of LPCs may include:

  • Conducting assessments and evaluations to understand clients' mental health needs.
  • Developing personalized treatment plans based on individual goals and concerns.
  • Providing counseling services to address issues such as anxiety, depression, relationship problems, grief, and more.
  • Utilizing evidence-based therapeutic techniques to help clients explore and overcome emotional difficulties.
  • Offering guidance and support in developing coping strategies and implementing positive changes in clients' lives.
  • Collaborating with other mental health professionals, such as psychiatrists and psychologists, to ensure comprehensive care.

Training and Qualifications

LPCs undergo extensive education and training to become qualified mental health professionals. In Missouri, LPCs must hold a master's degree in counseling or a related field. They also need to complete a certain number of supervised clinical hours, typically ranging from 2,000 to 4,000 hours, depending on the state's requirements.

To obtain a license, LPCs must pass a national counseling examination and meet other specific criteria set by the Missouri Committee for Professional Counselors. Additionally, they are required to participate in continuing education to stay updated on the latest research and therapeutic approaches.

What to Expect from an LPC

When working with an LPC, you can expect a supportive and non-judgmental environment where you can freely express your thoughts and feelings. LPCs employ various therapeutic techniques, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based approaches, and solution-focused therapy, tailored to your unique needs.

During your sessions, an LPC will actively listen to your concerns, help you gain insight into your emotions and behaviors, and guide you in developing strategies to cope with challenges. They will work collaboratively with you to establish treatment goals and monitor your progress throughout the therapeutic journey.

It's important to note that while LPCs provide valuable support, they are not medical doctors and cannot prescribe medication. However, they may work in conjunction with psychiatrists or other healthcare professionals to ensure comprehensive care.

Finding the right mental health provider for your needs is an important step in your journey towards healing and well-being. Take into consideration factors such as your specific concerns, therapy approach, and compatibility with the provider. If you're unsure where to start, resources are available to help you locate mental health providers in Missouri.

Doctoral Level Therapists

When it comes to mental health, it's important to work with the right professionals. That's why doctoral-level therapists are an excellent choice for those seeking expert-level care. These therapists have earned their Doctorate in Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctorate in Psychology (Psy.D.), and are highly trained and skilled in their field.

PhD- Doctorate of Philosophy

A Ph.D. (Doctorate of Philosophy) is the highest academic degree one can earn in any field of study. It is a testament to one's dedication, hard work, and expertise in their chosen field of study. For those who hold a Ph.D. in psychology or related fields, their extensive training and education make them well-suited for a variety of roles within the field of mental health.

Ph.D. holders in psychology or related fields have earned their degree in philosophy, which enables them to focus on research, clinical work, teaching, and more. They have spent years honing their critical thinking and analytical skills, and have developed a deep understanding of the complexities of the human mind and behavior.

As a result, Ph.D. holders are often considered experts in their field, and are highly sought after for their knowledge and skills. They may work in academia, conducting research and teaching the next generation of mental health professionals. Alternatively, they may work in clinical settings, providing therapy, counseling, and other services to those in need.

Regardless of their chosen path, Ph.D. holders in psychology or related fields are valuable members of the mental health community. Their contributions have the potential to make a real difference in the lives of countless individuals, and their expertise is essential to advancing our understanding of the human mind and behavior.

PsyD – Doctoral of Psychology

If you're considering seeking help for mental health concerns, you may come across the term "PsyD" and wonder what it means. A PsyD, or Doctoral of Psychology, is a degree that focuses on the practical application of psychology in a clinical setting.

PsyD practitioners, on the other hand, focus primarily on direct client interactions. They are trained to work with individuals, couples, families, and groups to help them achieve their mental health goals. Though they share similarities with therapists, their focus is often on more specific mental health disorders.

PsyD practitioners are highly skilled in diagnosing and treating these disorders, and have a deep understanding of the complexities involved in mental health treatment. They use a variety of evidence-based approaches to help their clients, including cognitive-behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and humanistic therapy.

If you're looking for a mental health professional who can help you with a specific disorder or concern, a PsyD practitioner may be a good fit for you. With their extensive training and focus on direct client care, they can provide you with the tools and support you need to achieve a healthier, happier life.

Overall, doctoral-level therapists are the experts you need when it comes to mental health. Their education, training, and experience make them uniquely qualified to provide the care and support you need to achieve your mental health goals.

Social Workers

Social workers play a vital role in the field of mental health, providing essential support and guidance to individuals in need. They are trained professionals who specialize in assisting people in various aspects of their lives, including mental and emotional well-being. In Missouri, social workers are an integral part of the mental health care system, offering valuable services to those seeking help.

Role and Responsibilities of Social Workers

Social workers in the mental health field are trained to assess, diagnose, and treat individuals with mental health concerns. They work closely with clients to understand their unique circumstances and develop personalized treatment plans. Social workers often provide counseling and therapy services, helping individuals cope with emotional challenges, manage stress, and develop healthy coping mechanisms.

Additionally, social workers may assist clients in accessing community resources, such as support groups, financial assistance, or housing programs. They advocate for their clients' rights and help them navigate complex systems to ensure they receive the support they need.

Training and Qualifications

To become a social worker in Missouri, individuals typically need to complete a bachelor's or master's degree in social work from an accredited institution. They may also need to obtain a license to practice, depending on their specific role and the level of care they provide.

Social workers undergo extensive training to develop the necessary skills to support individuals with mental health concerns. Their education covers various topics, including human behavior, psychology, social justice, and ethics. Through supervised fieldwork and internships, social workers gain practical experience working with diverse populations and addressing a range of mental health issues.

What to Expect from a Social Worker

When seeking help from a social worker, individuals can expect a compassionate and supportive environment. Social workers prioritize building a strong therapeutic relationship with their clients, creating a safe space for open and honest communication.

During the initial sessions, the social worker will conduct a thorough assessment to gain a comprehensive understanding of the client's mental health concerns, background, and goals. Based on this assessment, the social worker will develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to the client's specific needs.

Treatment may involve individual therapy, group therapy, or a combination of both. Social workers utilize evidence-based interventions and therapeutic techniques to help clients develop effective coping strategies, improve their overall well-being, and navigate life's challenges.

It's important to note that while social workers are highly skilled professionals, they are not able to prescribe medication. However, they can work collaboratively with psychiatrists and other mental health professionals to ensure a holistic approach to treatment.

When searching for a mental health provider in Missouri, it's beneficial to consider the different types of professionals available, including psychiatrists, psychologists, and counselors. Each professional brings a unique set of skills and expertise to the table, allowing individuals to find the right fit for their specific needs.

Special  Certifications in Addiction Work

Free photo candid shot of casually dressed professional woman psychotherapist in her fifties touching her young male patient by shoulder while having counseling session, expressing sympathy and support

In the field of addiction work, there are various certifications that professionals can obtain to provide specialized support. Some of the certifications include:

  • Peer Support Specialist: Individuals who have completed 35 hours of training to support people struggling with addiction and help by sharing their own lived experiences.
  • Certified Reciprocal Alcohol & Drug Counselor (CRADC): Professionals who hold an applicable Master's, Bachelor's, Associates degree, or high school diploma, have some experience in addiction work and supervised practicum, and pass an exam if not upgrading from CADC.

Other certifications that one may come across in the field of addiction work include:

  • ACAP - Alabama Certified Addiction Professional
  • CCDP - Certified Co-Occurring Disorders Professional (IC&RC)
  • CCDP-D - Certified Co-Occurring Disorders Professional Diplomate (IC&RC)
  • CCJP - Certified Criminal Justice Professional (IC&RC)
  • CADC- Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor
  • MSAPA- Missouri Substance Abuse Prevention Associate
  • CRPS- Certified Reciprocal Prevention Specialist
  • MACSAPP- Missouri Advanced Certified Substance Abuse Prevention Professional
  • RASAC l- Recognized Associate Substance Abuse Counselor l
  • RASAC ll- Recognized Associate Substance Abuse Counselor ll
  • CRADC- Certified Reciprocal Alcohol Drug Counselor
  • CRAADC- Certified Reciprocal Advanced Alcohol Drug Counselor
  • RSAP-P- Registered Substance Abuse Professional-Provisional
  • SQP- Substance Abuse Traffic Offender Program (SATOP) Credentials - SATOT Qualified Professional
  • SQI- Substance Abuse Traffic Offender Program (SATOP) Credentials - SATOT Qualified Instructor
  • SQP-I- Substance Abuse Traffic Offender Program (SATOP) Credentials - SATOT Qualified Instructor - REACT
  • MRSS- Missouri Recovery Support Specialist

These certifications allow professionals to provide specialized support to individuals struggling with addiction and related issues.

Finding the Right Mental Health Provider for You

When seeking mental health support, finding the right mental health provider is crucial. There are several factors to consider to ensure a good fit for your specific needs. Here are some important factors to consider when searching for a mental health provider in Missouri:

  • Specialization: Different mental health providers have varying areas of expertise. Consider the specific type of support you need, such as therapy for anxiety or medication management for depression. Understanding the specialization of a provider can help ensure they have the necessary skills and experience to address your concerns effectively.
  • Credentials and Qualifications: It's essential to verify the credentials and qualifications of a mental health provider. Look for providers who are licensed or certified in their respective fields. For example, psychiatrists should be board-certified and licensed to practice medicine, while psychologists should hold a Ph.D. or Psy.D. in psychology.
  • Approach and Treatment Philosophy: Each mental health provider may have a different approach and treatment philosophy. Research their therapeutic approach and consider whether it aligns with your personal preferences and goals. Some providers may focus on evidence-based therapies, while others may incorporate alternative or holistic approaches.
  • Availability and Accessibility: Consider the practicality of scheduling appointments with a mental health provider. Factors such as location, office hours, and availability should be taken into account. Additionally, evaluate whether the provider offers teletherapy or online counseling options, which can increase accessibility and convenience.
  • Insurance Coverage and Affordability: Mental health services can be costly, so it's important to determine whether a provider accepts your insurance or offers sliding-scale fees. Contact your insurance provider to understand your coverage and potential out-of-pocket expenses. If you don't have insurance, inquire about any available financial assistance or community resources.

Once you have considered these factors, you can begin your search for mental health providers in Missouri. Fortunately, there are resources available to help you locate providers in your area. Some resources for locating mental health providers in Missouri include:

  • Online Directories: Websites like Psychology Today, GoodTherapy, and the American Psychological Association's Psychologist Locator allow you to search for mental health providers based on location, specialization, and other criteria.
  • Referrals and Recommendations: Seek recommendations from trusted individuals, such as healthcare professionals, friends, or family members who may have had positive experiences with mental health providers. Their insights can help guide your decision-making process.
  • Local Mental Health Organizations: Reach out to local mental health organizations or community mental health centers in Missouri. They often have directories or can provide recommendations for mental health providers in your area.
  • Insurance Provider Directories: If you have insurance coverage, consult your insurance provider's directory to find mental health providers who are in-network. This ensures you can maximize your benefits and reduce out-of-pocket expenses.

Remember that finding the right mental health provider may require some trial and error. It's essential to prioritize your comfort, trust, and the therapeutic alliance you establish with your provider. Don't hesitate to schedule initial consultations or phone calls to assess whether a provider is the right fit for you. Your mental health journey is unique, and finding the right mental health provider in Missouri can contribute significantly to your overall well-being.


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