Mental Health Careers: More Than Just Psychologists
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Mental Health Careers: More Than Just Psychologists

Good cat. So I’ve had this awkward thing happen where I’ll be socializing at an event and inevitably meet someone new. Hey, what’s your name? Oh, uh, I’m Micah. What’s your name? Dusseldorf! Yeah. My friends call me Ducey though. Oh…Dusseldorf. Nice to meet you. Yeah. Anyway, what do you do? Oh me? Uh, well I guess I’m a…. mental health professional of sorts. I guess uh… I do counseling. Oh, so you’re like a social worker? Uhhh, sort of. I do social work, but I’m not really a social
worker, per se. A psychologist? Well, no, I’m not a psychologist, but
um… Oh, a psychiatrist. No, no, that’s too intense, I’m
not a psychiatrist. Uh huh…okay. Yeah…I’m gonna go use the bathroom. So awkward. But it’s confusing. I mean, there just so much terminology around
mental health professions. And it’s hard to know how to self-identify. I mean, I don’t even know what other people
understand. Well let’s just clear the air right here
and right now. Let’s just break down these terms one by
one and try to make sense of them. And just for fun, let’s go in order based
on median US income. Let’s go! Counselors are people who counsel or give
advice. Now, this label can be used to identify a
lot of different people, including camp counselors, financial counselors, and spiritual counselors. But mental health counselors can be both licensed
and unlicensed individuals. Some counselors may have little or no training
at all, so you want to make sure that you’re doing your due diligence to make sure that you’re getting the real deal. So am I a counselor? Yeah, I’d probably call myself a clinical
counselor just to make it sound more legit. But my license here in California is as a
Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor. Life coaches are folks that motivate others
to achieve their personal goals, such as changing jobs or improving relationships or setting
priorities for their lives. The goal is to help that person become happier. Life coaches seem to tread that fine line
right before providing therapy. And the reason is because they can’t. See, to be a life coach, you don’t actually need to meet any educational or training standards. Literally anyone can call themselves a life
coach. It’s also a term that seems to be used exclusively
in private practices. When I was looking up information about salary,
I couldn’t find anything on life coaches because no government agencies or companies use this
title. Maybe I’m a little bit biased, but I have
a problem with this title because there’s no oversight or regulation of life coaches. So am I a life coach? What do you think? No! Clinicians tend to be individuals who have
at least a Master’s level education. It, too, can refer to other roles in the healthcare
industry. For example physicians, nurse practitioners,
or speech-language pathologists might all identify as clinicians. It also refers to therapists, psychologists,
and psychiatrists who provide mental health services. Clinicians tend to be licensed or license-eligible
in their field and follow evidence-based practices in their area. I definitely call myself a clinician and my
current job title is actually “Lead Clinician”. “Therapist” is another one of those terms
that can refer other professions, like physical therapists rather than psychotherapists or
behavioral therapists. But let’s focus on the mental health side
of things. In most states in the US, a therapist is someone
who is licensed. As a result, therapists tend to have a higher
degree of professionalism and ethics since they are required by their state board. But the label, particularly when you say psychotherapist,
has a fair amount of bias attached to it. So am I a therapist? Yeah, I am a therapist. And I think that it’s a pretty accurate
term. I just wish that there wasn’t so much stigma
attached to it. The term “Mental Health Professional” casts
a wide net. This broad term was developed as a name to
describe anyone who worked in the new community mental health agencies that started in the
1970s after Ronald Regan signed law that put many state hospitals out of business. Today, it can refer to therapists, shelter
employees, rehab workers, you name it. There’s no real qualifications for this
label, except you have to work with people who have mental health needs. Simple as that. So am I a mental health professional? Yes, though I probably wouldn’t use it as
my primary title. Now social worker is a term that I struggle
with. When I talk with my social worker friends,
they say, “Well, you are a social worker because you do social work”. Which is true, I do work with individuals,
particularly disadvantaged individuals, to help improve their social well-being. And it is a diverse term. it can be used to describe anyone
who went to college for social work, all the way up to someone who is licensed. In general, someone who self-identifies as
a social worker is someone who has a Masters-level education. But in all fifty states, there are Licensed
Clinical Social Workers, which is a formal license that’s widely used in hospitals, government
agencies, and other mental health centers around the US. It is a pretty well-guarded title. And in my experience, when an organization
is looking for a social worker, it exclusively means someone with that license. So while I do social work and I could call
myself a social worker, I don’t because that’s not my license. A psychoanalyst is someone who practices psychoanalysis, which is the original form of talk therapy developed by Sigmund Freud back in the day. If you want to get more info on that, you
can actually click up here to see my video on psychoanalysis. Every once in a while, when I tell someone
what I do, they’ll say, “Oh, are you psychoanalyzing me?” And the answer, of course is… yes. But seriously though, this label is reserved
for people who faithfully follow the teachings of Freud and his predecessors. They almost definitely hold a Master’s degree
and are licensed to give therapy. Psychoanalysts are more common in other countries
like Argentina. And it is not particularly popular here in
the US. So am I a psychoanalyst? No, I am not. I could become one if I wanted to, but… I don’t want to. Psychologists tend to be people with a PhD
in psychology. Now in some cases, Masters degree or Bachelor
degree holders can call themselves psychologists. But like social workers, in most states the
title of psychologist is a protected term that can only be used by people with the proper
education and training, or who have licensure with their state board. Psychologists may provide therapy or they
may not. Some just do research. Due to its protected nature though, I would
not call myself a psychologist. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor with a
specialization in psychology. They can prescribe medications after becoming
licensed and arguably hold the highest level of prestige in psychology. However, due to how few there are in the United
States, they tend to spend very little time with clients and focus primarily on prescribing
medications. So am I a psychiatrist? I am not a doctor, so… Noooo. Just for the fun of it, let’s talk about the
label “shrink”. Shrink is a colloquial term used to refer
to psychotherapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists. Whenever I hear this term, I can’t help but
think about Robert DeNiro as a mob boss saying it. God forbid somebody hears that I’ve been talking
to a shrink. That’s all I would need, you know? It could be interpreted the wrong way. It’s a pretty outdated and stigma-laden
word. And it’s one of those words that I might
use as a joke to refer to myself, but if someone else used it, I’d probably make judgments
about them, you know? Actually, I don’t know about that. I guess it would depend on the context. Well anyway, I hope that that was at least
somewhat interesting. It was helpful for me. I feel like I was able to clarify that I more
closely identify with the terms clinician and therapist in my line of work. You know, there really are more than just
psychologists. And there’s so many different terms for people
who do mental health work. And I’m sure I forgot about a whole bunch
of them. If you thought of one that I forgot, then
please leave it in the comments down below. Anyway, thanks for watching. Until next time, I’m Micah. Think about it.

About Bill McCormick

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22 thoughts on “Mental Health Careers: More Than Just Psychologists

  1. You have a troubling obsession with felines, perhaps you should speak to a mental heath professional about that? Cool video though! 😉

  2. But if I think I need some kind of help in mental health, with so many confusing labels, as a complete layman, I don't know what to go looking for.

  3. Man, I’ve been there in that intro scene. Back when I was an athletic trainer I got the “so you help people work out?” “No, it’s like a sports medic”. ‘’So you’re a paramedic?” And it keeps going. Great video Micah!

  4. Excellent video and I recently had this discussion with my daughter as she tries to explain what I do to her teachers and classmates. I sometimes have this issue but most of the time I identify as a Forensic psychotherapist or Clinical psychotherapist because that’s my licensing, training and certification above and beyond my degrees.

  5. All of the information regarding salaries was taken from I'm not sure how accurately the numbers reflect individuals who identify with particular titles. For simplicity, I stuck to the basic job title and did not include variants (e.g. I searched "social worker" but didn't search "licensed clinical social worker"). So job titles like "clinician" show up as lower income because, even though it includes doctors or RNs, no company lists those positions as just "clinician". Anyway, just something to bear in mind as you're watching!

  6. Hey! Great video. I'm from Argentina and it's true that psychoanalysis is popular here. Particularly, I'm on a mix of cognitive behavioral therapy and psychoanalytic therapy (I've been diagnosed with OCD pure O) and it's working very good on me. I'm so happy I started it!

  7. Great job on this one; I often get this question from my clients! The Marriage and Family Therapists might be a little upset about being left out, though 😉

  8. Cool video. You should do a follow-up sometime that covers some of the more applied/ non-clinical titles (eg. Experimental psychologist, human factors psychologist, I/O psychologist, cognitive scientist, neuroscientist, neurologist, neurobiologist).

  9. And then there are the neuroscientists like me, who are more concerned with the hardware than the software 😉

  10. I love how you don’t just talk at the camera. You obviously write a script and plan your shots ahead, but it doesn’t feel so formal. The way you shoot everything is dynamic and conversational as well as informative. Subscribed.

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