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. (See Glossary)

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.


  • Interview clients, compile case histories, and analyze issues.
  • Create and execute counseling and intervention plans to help clients define objectives and strategies for achieving them.
  • Guide clients through therapy, offer mediation, and lead group sessions.
  • Coordinate with community agencies or collaborators, identify supplementary services, and offer referrals.
  • Assess the impact of counseling programs and interventions, track clients’ advancement in addressing identified concerns, and their progress towards set goals.
  • Review outcomes from counseling programs and clients’ adaptations.
  • Regularly meet with clients to monitor their progress.
  • Therapists cannot diagnose or prescribe medication.


  • Psychiatrists are licensed to 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.
  • Discussing 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.
  • 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.


  • 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.

Irrespective of which healthcare practitioner provides you care; it is essential that quality standards are met.

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