Types of Mental Health Professionals

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: November 15, 2022  •  7 min read  •  Mental Health
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When you need a mental health professional or you want to work in this field as a career, it’s important to understand the different options. There are many types of mental health professionals. Let’s look at some of the most common options in this field.

Types of Mental Health Professionals

11 Most Common Types of Mental Health Professionals

1. Psychiatrist

As a psychiatrist, you will treat and diagnose those with behavior disorders, including mental and emotional disorders. You will use psychical exams, lab tests and prescribe medication.

This type of doctor will likely specialize to work with children and adolescents, in forensic psychiatry, or with those suffering from learning disabilities. Of course, if you become a psychiatrist, you don’t have to specialize either.

As a psychiatrist, you can earn between $189K and $289K per year, according to salary.com. This position will require an advanced degree and the right certifications.

2. Psychologist

You might think of a doctor sitting in a chair while you’re lying on a couch when you hear the word psychologist. While this is sometimes the case, it’s not the only thing a psychologist can do.

As a psychologist, you will specialize in the science of thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Often, this type of mental health professional will work in a school, private office, or hospital. They treat many different issues including mental illness and relationship issues.

Psychologists earn about $95K per year, according to Indeed.com. Some locations will pay significantly higher salaries and the top employers pay more than $200K per year.

3. Psychoanalyst

When you decide to become a psychoanalyst, you will help patients explore repressed impulses, internal conflicts, and anxieties. This type of mental health professional will use dream interpretation, free association, and analysis of resistance and transference to work with patients.

As a psychoanalyst, you can help people explore deep issues they are suffering from. However, this is a field with plenty of critics. The credentials are also not protected by federal or state law, which means anybody can call themselves a psychoanalyst.

If you choose to become a psychoanalyst, you can earn around $141K per year, according to SalaryExpert.com. Most psychoanalysts will have a master’s degree with more than 20% earning a doctorate degree.

4. Mental Health Counselor

A broad term used to cover many different types of counselors is mental health counselor. If you want to work with people struggling with addiction, family issues, stress, job stress, or in their marriage, you will likely become a mental health counselor.

Most will specialize in one specific area, but you can work as a general mental health counselor, too.

This type of mental health professional will earn a salary between $60K and $75K per year.

5. Religious Counselor

When you decide to become a religious counselor, you might also be called a pastoral counselor. This type of counselor may treat several issues. However, they tend to focus on marriage and family counseling, along with faith counseling. All counseling will be done through a spiritual context.

Often, religious counselors are leaders of churches. They may have completed an education at a seminary and have extensive religious training. Of course, they will also have mental health training, too.

A religious counselor often chooses this career not because of the money. However, the salary, according to PayScale.com, can range from $23K to $94K per year.

6. Addiction Counselor

An addiction counselor works with those struggling with many different types of addiction. You might work with those struggling with alcohol, drugs, or gambling. There are also less common addictions, such as hoarding and sexual addiction.

Most addiction counselors provide one-on-one sessions but often offer group sessions, too. They might lead groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, as well as interventions.

7. Family and Marriage Counselor

Deciding to become a family and marriage counselor is great if you want to help families and married couples. You can help people figure out issues they are struggling with from a difficult child to a big upcoming move to a loss they have suffered. This type of counselor will help on a one-on-one basis and might also hold group sessions.

There are many types of things a family and marriage counselor can treat. You might work with patients suffering from addiction, with marital issues, or struggling with an eating disorder.

If you choose this type of mental health professional, you can expect an average salary of about $42,500 per year.

8. Psychiatric Nurse

As a registered nurse, you can specialize and become a psychiatric nurse. This type of nurse will work in mental health. You will provide a therapeutic relationship for those seeking help.

Most of the job of a psychiatric nurse will include dealing with challenging behavior and mental health conditions. You will be able to administer psychiatric medication and perform psychological therapy under the supervision of a medical doctor, as well.

This type of nurse can earn a very high salary with plenty of overtime compensation. Expect to make around $92K per year with about $12K in overtime each year.

9. Psychotherapist

A general term used to cover many different mental health professionals is a psychotherapist. You can be a psychologist and a therapist under this term. Anybody providing psychotherapy can be called a psychotherapist.

This term is often used to cover those using therapy outside the other types of mental health professionals on this list.

The average salary range from a psychotherapist goes from $55K to about $71K per year.

10. Art Therapist

If you decide to become an art therapist, you will use creativity to help treat patients. This type of therapy depends on painting, writing, and sculpture to help patients. Often, you will be working with those struggling with addiction, mental illness, depression, and those that have gone through traumatic events.

When someone seeks art therapy, they get the opportunity to express their feelings. Maybe they cannot put these feelings into words, but they can show them through painting or sculpture.

As an art therapist, you can expect to make an average yearly salary of about $48K.

11. Social Worker

Social workers are a very important part of the mental health system. This type of mental health professional is very dedicated to helping people. They will work to help people with disabilities and personal issues.

Social workers can work as public employees or work at hospitals, universities, or in private practice as a therapist with the right licensing. You can choose to work in a subtype of social work, too. These includes:

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, social workers make an average yearly salary of about $52K.

There are many types of mental health professionals, all with different requirements. Some will require you to go to school long enough to get a doctorate, while others will only require a master’s degree. Most mental health professionals will earn more than a bachelor’s degree.

However, you can get a bachelor’s degree and work as a mental health professional. You might need to complete additional certifications and meet the correct licensing requirements, though. It’s also important to check your state requirements for any of these positions. It can vary from one state to another.

If you’re considering a career in mental health, these are the most common options. All of these types of mental health professionals work to help others. You can enjoy a rewarding career in any of these fields.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path.