Understanding the Roles and Responsibilities of Different Mental Health Professionals

There are several mental health professionals such as psychologists, clinical counselors, youth and childcare workers, psychiatrists, etc. All professionals have different roles, qualifications, services, intake procedures, assessments, treatment plans, and follow-up sessions. Understanding the difference between each practitioner is important in ensuring you are receiving appropriate care. For definitions of practitioners, visit the Udada Journey Map PDF.

Therapy modalities aim to address and treat mental health issues by employing specific techniques tailored to individual needs. Each modality focuses on different aspects of mental health, from changing negative thought patterns to exploring unconscious processes or fostering personal growth and self-acceptance. The ultimate purpose is to help clients achieve better emotional and psychological well-being, cope with life’s challenges, and improve their overall quality of life.

College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO) has identified five broad categories of prescribed therapies:

  • Cognitive and Behavioral therapies
  • Experiential and Humanistic therapies
  • Psychodynamic Therapies
  • Somatic Therapies
  • Systemic and Collaborative therapies

All psychotherapeutic modalities used by Registered Psychotherapists (RP) should fall within these categories. The following are examples of therapy modalities that fall under the five categories of psychotherapy. These examples are not intended to be exhaustive, rather they are intended to help RPs situate their own practices within what are intended to be broad categories.

Types of Support That Will be Available

Based on the healthcare professional you visit, see here the types of support that will be available to you.

Psychiatrist

  • Psychiatrists are licensed physicians that can prescribe medications to manage mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and others.
  • They monitor patients’ responses to medications and adjust treatment plans as needed.
  • Psychiatrists can also provide psychotherapy or counseling services. They may offer various types of therapy, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, supportive therapy, and others, depending on their training and expertise.

Clinical Psychologist

  • Access client’s behavior (interview, test, and observe their patients to understand their condition and the type of help they need).
  • Provide diagnoses based on the assessments and observations they gather to create a treatment plan tailored to the needs of each individual client.
  • Collaborate with other specialists such as case managers, therapists, and psychiatrists to coordinate client care.
  • Provide referrals: If the patient requires additional care beyond what the psychologist can provide, they might offer referrals for additional care, evaluation, and treatment.
  • Psychologists cannot diagnose or prescribe medication.

Psychotherapist

  • Registered Psychotherapist (RP) and client enter a psychotherapeutic relationship where they can both work together to bring about positive change in the client’s thinking, feeling, behavior and social functioning.
  • Acts as a case manager to discuss the benefits, risks and expected outcome(s) of psychotherapy and the opportunity to give their informed consent.
  • Continuously evaluating outcomes of each session and the impact on overall treatment.
  • Psychotherapists cannot prescribe medication.

Clinical Counsellor

  • Clinical counselling is typically sought when a person experiences challenging situations, thoughts, feelings, or circumstances.
  • RCCs do not diagnose or prescribe. A clinical counsellor is also considered a psychotherapist.
  • Treatment occurs in many ways and through many different modalities such as individual therapy, couples therapy, family therapy and group therapy.
  • RCC’s ensure that the client’s well-being is at the forefront of the relationship to gather relevant information that will support the goals and outcomes of clinical counselling.
  • Engages in ongoing evaluative processes of the client’s experience and the therapeutic course of care.

Pharmacist

  • Do not diagnose or prescribe.
  • Review prescriptions for accurate dosages.
  • Compound prescribed medications by calculating, measuring, and mixing ingredients, and filling containers correctly.
  • Dispense prescribed drugs to customers or healthcare professionals and provide guidance on usage, side effects, interactions, and dosages.
  • Manage patient medication profiles, including controlled substances.
  • Advising customers on non-prescription medications.
  • Renewing prescriptions in specific situations.
  • Modifying medication formulations, regimens, durations, or administration routes as needed.

All practitioners mentioned above are regulated professions; patients are advised to check them up with their colleges when considering treatment. Irrespective of which healthcare practitioner provides you care; it is essential that quality standards are met.

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