Published on February 22, 2022

What Kind of Therapist Do I Need?

What Kind of Therapist Do I Need

Many people find themselves confused or overwhelmed about where to start regarding mental health. If you’re feeling lost, uncertain, or like you can’t cope with what’s going on in your life, do you see a therapist? Who do you choose, and how do you even find one?

If you’ve decided it’s time to try therapy for the first time or you’re considering a new therapist or therapy type, it’s okay if that’s as far as you’ve come!

There is no one-size-fits-all answer for mental health, which means the same is true for therapists. Different people will need different therapists, types of therapy, and even therapy settings to address their mental health concerns. Thankfully, there are countless types of licensed and experienced mental health professionals out there, making it possible to find what’s right for you.

This article will outline different types of therapists available to you to help you determine those best-suited for you.

By the end of reading this guide, you may no longer be asking yourself what kind of therapist do I need, but instead, how soon can I get started?

What Kind of Therapist Do I Need: A Psychologist or a Counselor?

Before we dive into the various types of therapy, it’s important to understand the differences between mental health professionals. Some people may seek a therapist with extensive training and a state-approved license, while others might find excellent advice from a social worker, life coach, priest, or another expert.

That is to say, degrees and schooling may not be as necessary for one person’s condition or preferences compared to experience – and vice versa.


Psychiatrists are medical doctors (MD or DO) who practice psychotherapy and prescribe medication.


Psychologists have either a doctoral degree (Ph.D. or PsyD) in psychology or a master’s degree (MA, MS) and specialize in mental health.

They are not medical doctors, so they cannot prescribe medication, but they have extensive training in what causes mental illness and what helps. Psychologists often work with psychiatrists to help treat their patients.

A clinical psychologist focuses on treating severe mental illnesses, whereas a counseling psychologist is considered someone who helps patients deal with more moderate, daily issues.

Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) or Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)

Counselors typically have a master’s degree (MA, MS, MEd, MFT) in counseling. They often specialize in one type of therapy – like family therapy or addiction counseling. In either case, counselors are well suited to help people cope with their emotions and improve their mental health and wellbeing.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Some social workers have a master’s degree (MSW) in social work, while others have a doctoral degree (DSW or Ph.D.). In either case, their education is coupled with thousands of supervised hours. Many social workers specialize primarily in general mental health or other areas like children or families.

Types of Therapy: What Kind of Therapist Do I Need if…

What kind of therapist do I need if…

I generally feel okay, but I struggle to manage and understand my emotions, relationships, and thought patterns. I understand my issues may be linked to my past, so I may need someone for the long haul.

You may need a therapist for psychodynamic therapy.

Psychodynamic therapy is a form of talk therapy that examines the unconscious mind and its manifestation in our current behavior. It is one of the older forms of therapy, but research has shown that it can be effective in treating many mental health conditions, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Substance use disorder
  • Somatic symptoms

What kind of therapist do I need if…

My anxious thoughts and behaviors dictate my life, so I want to learn how to recognize them and change them.

You may need a therapist who specializes in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a type of psychotherapy that helps you identify and reshape inaccurate or negative thoughts and behaviors. CBT often treats anxiety and depression, but it can also be effective for other mental health issues, including:

  • Anxiety and phobias
  • Substance use disorders
  • Mood disorders (such as depression)
  • OCD
  • Insomnia
  • Eating disorders
  • Schizophrenia (some symptoms)

What kind of therapist do I need if…

I want help with my relationship dynamics or communication skills. I think this has been an issue in the past, and I want to work on it.

You may need a therapist for family therapy or couples counseling.

Family therapy is a type of psychotherapy that helps families communicate and resolve conflicts. Couples counseling is a form of family therapy that helps couples improve their communication and problem-solving skills.

What kind of therapist do I need if…

I’m feeling unusually violent and anxious, having suicidal thoughts, or experiencing hallucinations.

You may need a therapist who specializes in psychiatric care.

Psychiatric care is the branch of medicine that deals with mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in this area and can prescribe medication.

What kind of therapist do I need if…

I want to focus on my personal growth and development.

You may need a therapist for existential therapy.

Existential therapy is talk therapy that helps you explore the meaning and purpose of your life. This therapy type can be helpful for people who are struggling with anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions.

What kind of therapist do I need if…

I’m not sure what’s wrong with me, but I know something is wrong.

You may need a therapist for diagnostic evaluation.

Sometimes people know that something is wrong but can’t put their finger on the issue. In these instances, it can be helpful to see a therapist for a diagnostic evaluation. This is when the therapist will assess your symptoms and determine what type of mental health condition you may have.

Therapy Settings: What Kind of Therapist Do I Need If…

What kind of therapist do I need if…

I’m busy and unable to leave the house. Cost is something I need to consider as well.

You may need to find a therapist that’s available for online therapy.

Online therapy can save you time and be just as effective as in-person therapy. Many online platforms provide 24/7 communication features and even take insurance.

What kind of therapist do I need if…

I’m going through grief or addiction, and I think I could benefit from the support of others going through the same.

You may need to find a therapist for group therapy.

Group therapy is a type of psychotherapy that focuses on the interactions between group members. Group therapy allows you to talk with others going through similar things and learn how they manage their symptoms. This can be helpful if you’re working through struggles like grief, addiction, or abuse.

A group therapist acts as a guide or facilitator, offering feedback with a less hands-on approach. Group therapy is centered around group discussion and cohesiveness, and interpersonal learning.

The Bottom Line on Finding the Right Therapist for You

It can seem overwhelming to figure out what kind of therapist you need, but hopefully, the information you read here has helped make things a little bit clearer. If you’re still not sure, don’t worry! Any mental health professional can steer you in the right direction. The most important thing is that you reach out for help to start getting the support you need.

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