The Role of Mental Health Professionals in Recovery

Learn more about how finding the right mental health professional can make all the difference in your treatment here.

Black Horse Health Can Provide the Mental Health Assistance You Need

At Black Horse Health, we know that mental health and other co-occurring disorders can create or exacerbate other symptoms, often manifesting itself via substance use disorder, trauma, or chronic pain.

Our team of skilled and compassionate specialists have over 100 years of combined experience, and we are committed to helping you or your loved one lead a fulfilling life by supporting you through your mental health treatment.

With our professionally trained staff that includes registered nurses, chemical dependency counselors, medical doctors, and compassionate therapists, we will work with you to create a path to recovery that best meets your unique set of symptoms.

Harness the Power of Wellness With Black Horse Health

Don’t let your past experiences with mental health professionals and treatment inhibit you from leading the happy, healthy, and fulfilled life you deserve.

Learn more about our mental health treatment programs, other treatment opportunities, and how our Black Horse Health team of mental health professionals can help you recover in this comprehensive article. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team for more information or to begin your path to wellness today.

mental health professional


We live in a world that’s increasingly fraught with stressors, ranging from the fast pace of modern life to societal pressures, economic uncertainties, and even global crises. Because of this, the role of mental health professionals has never been more critical.
Mental health professionals provide a vital service that goes beyond relieving symptoms. They guide people through emotional, psychological, and behavioral challenges. They diagnose and treat mental health conditions and empower people to navigate life’s ups and downs in a healthier way.
As the stigma surrounding mental health continues to dissipate, the work of mental health professionals stands as an essential component of well-being, offering transformative avenues for coping, healing, and thriving.

What to Expect from This Article

In this article, we’ll explore different types of mental health professionals and what they can treat. We’ll also discuss how to choose the right mental health professional to best meet your treatment needs.

Types of Mental Health Professionals

Mental health professionals specialize in diagnosing, treating, and managing mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. They come from various educational backgrounds and offer a variety of approaches to mental health care.
Below are some common types of mental health professionals and their roles.


Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions. They are licensed to prescribe medication and may use this in conjunction with psychotherapy, depending on their training and approach.1


Psychologists hold either a Ph.D., Psy.D., or Ed.D. in psychology. They focus on the psychological aspects of mental health. They’re trained in psychotherapy and psychological testing.
Psychologists cannot prescribe medication, except in a few U.S. states where they may have additional prescribing privileges.

Clinical Social Worker

Clinical social workers have a Master of Social Work (M.S.W.) or Doctor of Social Work (D.S.W.) degree. They diagnose and treat mental health conditions.
They often focus on social aspects, like family dynamics, and are often trained in psychotherapy.2

Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)

LPCs hold a master’s degree in counseling or a related field. They provide psychotherapy and may specialize in areas like:

Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)

MFTs hold a master’s degree in psychology, marriage and family therapy, or a related field. They specialize in relational dynamics, providing therapy to couples or families in addition to individual therapy.

Psychiatric Nurse

Psychiatric nurses hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing, often with additional mental health training. They work in a variety of settings.
Psychiatric nurses can administer medication and provide therapeutic care under the supervision of a psychiatrist.

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

These professionals hold a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing with psychiatric specialization. These nurse practitioners can:
  • Diagnose mental health conditions
  • Provide psychotherapy
  • Prescribe medication


Education for a psychoanalyst varies. It’s often an M.D. or Ph.D. with additional training in psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysts specialize in psychoanalytic therapy, a specific type of long-term psychotherapy.

Occupational Therapist (Mental Health)

Occupational therapists hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree in occupational therapy. They help people improve their basic life skills and ability to perform daily activities, often in the context of mental health challenges.

Art Therapist, Music Therapist, Drama Therapist

The education level for these types of therapists varies. They often hold a master’s degree in their respective field. They use the creative arts as a therapeutic technique to help clients express themselves and improve their mental health.

Peer Support Specialist

Peer support specialists have training and certifications but not a formal degree in mental health. These are people with lived experience of mental health conditions who offer support and guidance to others experiencing similar issues.

School Counselor

School counselors hold a master’s degree in school counseling or a related field. They provide support to students facing academic, emotional, or social challenges.
Each type of professional plays a unique role in mental health care. They often work in interdisciplinary teams to provide the most comprehensive care possible.
It’s important to choose the right type of mental health professional based on individual needs, preferences, and the specific challenges being faced.

Finding the Right Mental Health Professional

Finding the right type of mental health professional depends on a variety of factors. These include:
  • The nature and severity of the mental health issue
  • Whether medication might be needed
  • The kinds of therapy or treatments that are most likely to be beneficial

Serious Mental Health Conditions

People suffering from severe mental health conditions like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia may benefit most from seeing a psychiatrist. These professionals can provide both psychotherapy and medication management.3

Relationship Struggles

On the other hand, if someone is struggling with relationship issues, a marriage and family therapist might be more appropriate.

Mild Mental Health Conditions

People grappling with life stressors or milder forms of anxiety or depression might find that a licensed professional counselor or a clinical social worker fits their needs.

Consider Logistics

It’s important to consider logistical factors like:
  • Location
  • Availability
  • Whether the professional accepts insurance
These factors can significantly impact the sustainability of the treatment.

The Process of Finding and Choosing a Mental Health Professional

The process of finding and choosing a mental health professional often involves several steps, each of which helps people make a more informed decision about their mental health care.
Below is a general guide on how to navigate this journey:

Initial Research and Recommendations

Here are some guidelines to starting your search:
  1. Personal Evaluation: Evaluate your symptoms, concerns, and goals. Knowing what you’re looking to address helps narrow down the type of mental health professional you might need.
  2. Ask Your Doctor: If you have one, your general practitioner can be an excellent starting point for referrals and initial evaluations.
  3. Seek Recommendations: Ask trusted friends, family members, or other healthcare providers for recommendations. You can also use online directories, reviews, or your insurance provider’s list of in-network mental health professionals.
  4. Specializations and Credentials: Research the types of professionals and their areas of expertise. Make sure they’re certified and licensed to practice in your state or country. Verifying that the professional is in good standing with their licensing board can provide an added layer of assurance.
If you’re looking into specialized care—such as for substance use disorder, eating disorders, trauma, or child and adolescent issues—additional certifications or specializations in these areas are a plus.
When you reach out to Black Horse Health, you can rest assured that your care team is highly qualified to offer personalized, effective, and innovative concierge service.

Making the First Contact

Many professionals offer a preliminary phone consultation free of charge. This allows you to gauge if they might be a good fit.
Ask about:
  • Their approach to therapy
  • Their areas of expertise
  • Fees
  • What insurance they accept
You can also ask about the typical frequency of sessions and what you can expect from treatment.


Confirm their office location, availability, and whether they offer telehealth services, which could be a more convenient option for you.

Making the Appointment

Before setting the appointment, confirm with your insurance company about coverage and copayments to avoid unexpected costs. Once you’re satisfied with the information you’ve gathered, go ahead and book an appointment.
Prior to the first session, you may be asked to fill out initial paperwork that covers your medical history, current symptoms, and consent for treatment. Some professionals send this digitally before your first visit.

First Session and Beyond

Here’s an idea of how to proceed after your first session:

First Impressions

The initial session is often an assessment of your mental health and a chance for both you and the professional to evaluate the fit.

Ongoing Evaluation

Therapy is an ongoing process. If you feel comfortable and find value in the sessions, you’ll likely continue with regular appointments. If not, it’s entirely acceptable to consider other options and professionals.
Ongoing therapy is extremely beneficial. Ongoing therapy and counseling serve as cornerstones in many treatment plans developed by mental health professionals, providing a safe, structured environment for exploring emotions, behaviors, and thought patterns.

Benefits of Ongoing Sessions

Whether used in conjunction with medication or as a standalone treatment, ongoing sessions provide an essential framework for:
  • Self-discovery
  • Emotional regulation
  • The development of resilience
  • A more sustainable and comprehensive approach to mental well-being
Remember, finding the right mental health professional can take time. It’s okay to try a few before settling on the one that feels right for you. Your comfort and trust in the professional are crucial factors in the effectiveness of your treatment.

How do Mental Health Professionals Assess and Diagnose Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders?

The assessment and diagnosis of mental health and substance use disorders are multifaceted processes.

They often involve a combination of:
  • Clinical interviews
  • Standardized tests
  • Medical tests

Initial Clinical Assessment

Initially, a mental health professional will conduct a comprehensive clinical interview to gather information about the patient’s:
  • Medical history
  • Family background
  • Social environment
  • The nature and duration of symptoms

How This Information is Collected

Open-ended and structured questions are used to explore emotional states, behaviors, and experiences, providing the practitioner with a preliminary understanding of the person’s mental health.
Special attention is given to rule out other medical conditions or medications that might be causing or contributing to the symptoms.
Substance use is often assessed through a series of targeted questions to determine the type, frequency, and impact of substance use on the person’s life.

Other Assessment Tools

Following the initial clinical assessment, mental health professionals may use standardized assessment tools, such as questionnaires or inventories, to evaluate specific symptoms or conditions more systematically.
These tools are designed to measure particular aspects like:
  • Mood
  • Anxiety levels
  • Addictive behaviors
These tools offer a quantitative measure that complements the qualitative insights gathered during the clinical interview.

Additional Diagnostics

In some cases, additional diagnostic procedures may be necessary to rule out other conditions or to confirm a diagnosis.
This can include:
  • Blood tests
  • Brain imaging
  • Consultations with other medical specialists 


The comprehensive evaluation process culminates in a diagnosis based on criteria from authoritative guides like the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) or the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).4
This diagnosis then informs the development of an individualized treatment plan tailored to the patient’s specific needs.5

Which Techniques do Mental Health Professionals Employ in the Treatment of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders?

Mental health professionals employ a wide array of therapeutic approaches and techniques to treat mental health conditions. Each comes with its own theoretical framework, methodology, and goals.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive behavioral therapy is often used for treating anxiety and depression. It focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors.

Psychoanalytic or Psychodynamic Therapy

Psychoanalytic or psychodynamic therapy is rooted in the theories of Freud and his successors. It aims to delve into unconscious thoughts and early life experiences to understand current issues.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behavior therapy is commonly employed for borderline personality disorder. It involves teaching skills like emotional regulation and mindfulness.

Family and Couples Therapy

Family and couples therapy take a systemic approach, considering relational dynamics in the diagnosis and treatment plan.

Mindfulness-based Therapy

Mindfulness-based therapies, like mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), focus on cultivating awareness and acceptance of the present moment.

Other Therapeutic Approaches

In recent years, there’s been an increasing interest in integrative, more holistic approaches. This is where therapists draw on multiple theories and techniques to create a tailored treatment plan for each patient.

Specialized Therapies

Specialized forms of therapy are designed for specific conditions. This includes eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) for trauma or motivational interviewing for substance abuse.

Adjunct Therapies

Adjunct therapies offer alternative avenues for expression and healing. These include treatments like:
Regardless of the specific approach, the fundamental aim across all forms of therapy is to provide a safe, confidential treatment environment. This allows patients to explore their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to promote mental well-being.
mental health professional

How Black Horse Health Can Help You Find a Mental Health Professional

At Black Horse Health, our credentialed team of professionals plays a pivotal role in helping people find the right mental health professional. We are a centralized resource for qualified and vetted experts in the field.

If you’re unsure of where to get started in your search for a mental health professional, reach out to us. We have many resources on mental health topics to help you better understand your symptoms and treatment options.

Benefits of Connecting With Black Horse Health

Connecting with a mental health facility like ours during your search for a mental health professional offers a level of assurance regarding the quality and ethical standards of the professionals helping you.
We adhere to stringent criteria for inclusion while employing our integrative and evidence-based modalities tailored to suit your unique needs.

Contact Black Horse Health Today

Reach out to us today to learn more about how working with a mental health professional can help you on your path to wellness.