Asking for help with behavioral health issues can be difficult. It can be even more confusing if you’re not sure what type of treatment — or what type of behavioral health professional – can best provide the help you need.
- In a psychology visit, you’ll meet with a licensed psychologist or therapist – a mental health professional who has at least a master’s degree in that field but doesn’t need a Ph.D. or M.D. to practice therapy. Therapists provide talk therapy but don’t write prescriptions or help with ongoing medication management.
- In a psychiatry visit, you’ll meet with a psychiatrist – a medical doctor who has attended four years of medical school, one or two years of internship training and more than three years of special training as a psychiatrist resident. The psychiatrists at LiveHealth Online can prescribe medication or help manage any medication you might be taking for a behavioral health condition.
What to expect from therapy
If therapy is part of your treatment, you and your therapist will explore your thoughts, feelings and behaviors, identify patterns, and work on strategies to help you cope better. While it’s often referred to as “talk therapy,” it’s more than just a series of conversations. Your therapist will ask about your symptoms, history and goals for treatment, then develop a treatment plan for you. Depending on your concerns, your therapist may recommend a specific approach or technique, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, to help you reach your goals. You may also have between-session assignments to practice skills or learn ways to replace unhealthy thoughts or behaviors.
Different types of mental health professionals can provide therapy, including psychologists, social workers, licensed marriage and family therapists, and licensed professional clinical counselors. Many therapists specialize in a certain field like family therapy, marriage counseling, occupational therapy or educational therapy. Therapists may also specialize in working with specific age groups or treating certain issues, such as substance abuse, anxiety, depression or relationships.
You can access therapy in person or with telehealth. Licensed therapists on LiveHealth Online are available for telehealth appointments with flexible scheduling, including evenings and weekends.
What to expect from psychiatry
Psychiatry is the practice of diagnosing and treating mental, emotional, and behavioral concerns. With their medical training and experience, psychiatrists also bring to your treatment their knowledge of the biological, physical and genetic aspects of mental illness.
If you and your psychiatrist determine that medication is an appropriate treatment approach for you, your psychiatrist can prescribe it. (In most U.S. states, other types of mental health professionals aren’t permitted to prescribe medications.) If your psychiatrist prescribes medication, they will continue to meet with you to monitor whether the medication is helping and to keep an eye out for any side effects.
You can visit with a psychiatrist in person or via telehealth. Psychiatrists on LiveHealth Online are board-certified, trained in telehealth and available for initial evaluations, follow-up care and medication management.
While psychiatrists on LiveHealth Online can prescribe most medications – and send them directly to your pharmacy – they cannot prescribe controlled substances.
Which type of care should you seek?
If you’re not sure which type of behavioral health professional you should see, it may be best start with a LiveHealth Online psychology visit. The therapist can evaluate your needs and determine whether therapy, medication or a combination of both would be the best approach for you. They can then guide you on which type of visit to schedule for follow-up. If your treatment involves both types of care, you may have psychiatry visits to manage your medication and psychology visits for talk therapy.
The important thing is to have an initial visit and evaluation, so you can get the treatment you need.