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Using Your Behavioral Health BenefitsThere are many reasons a person might consider counseling. In general people go to counseling because they want to feel better about themselves or their relationships with others. Sometimes, people seek counseling because they have a sense that things just aren't quite right or they are going through a difficult time in their lives. Some reasons people seek counseling might include:
- Anxiety or Stress
- Relationship issues with family or friends
- Death of a loved one
- Difficult transitions such as divorce
- Low self esteem
- Alcohol and other drug issues
- Sexuality issues
- Eating or sleeping issues
There are times in everyone’s life when they might be feeling depressed, anxious, angry or stressed. Often talking to a relative or friend helps. However, there are times when talking to those we know is not enough. It is at these times, when we are feeling stuck or overwhelmed, that seeing a therapist for counseling may make sense.
How do I know if I should talk to a therapist?
There are many types of behavioral health professionals. Finding the right one for you may require some research. Often it is a good idea to first describe the symptoms and/or problems to your primary care provider. He or she can suggest the type of behavioral health professional you should call. Tufts Health Plan members do not need a referral from their PCP to see behavioral health care providers, but your PCP may a good resource for finding providers in your area.
What behavioral health provider is right for me?
Behavioral health care providers come from a number of different educational backgrounds and may be psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, advanced practice nurses or clinical nurse specialists, or they may have another kind of background or training. See the definitions below. Only therapists with certain educational backgrounds and licenses are legally allowed to prescribe medications.
When considering what type of provider you wish to see, you should consider the following:
- Is it important to you that your provider be able to prescribe medication if necessary?
- Do you have a preference for a male or female therapist, or is this not relevant for your choice?
Psychologists may have a Ph.D., Psy.D. or Ed..D. degree, all of which are doctoral level credentials. Psychologists have received extensive training in research or in clinical psychology, with additional supervised experiences after they receive their degree. Psychologists may also have training in psychological and/or neuropsychological testing.
Licensed Mental Health Counselors, or L.M.H.C.s, hold a master's degree from a graduate program in the field and additional supervised experiences. They are trained in psychotherapy and counseling techniques and usually specialize in one of the following: Marriage & Family Therapy, School Psychology, Community Psychology or Rehabilitation Psychology.
Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselors I, or LADC Is, hold a master's or doctoral degree in behavioral sciences and are able to address a full range of substance abuse issues with individuals and families.
All of the above clinicians can provide individual, couples, family and group counseling depending on their expertise. Always check your benefit document to confirm whether a provider you are considering seeing is considered in-network.
Types of providers listed below are able prescribe medication and may also provide counseling:
Psychiatric Nurse Mental Health Clinical Specialists (CSs) are Registered Nurses with additional special education in mental health care. These advanced practice nurses may offer mental health care, which includes evaluative, diagnostic, consultative and therapeutic procedures as well as prescribing medications. Psychiatric Nurse Mental Health Clinical Specialists must hold a master's degree in mental health nursing, meet the Board of Registration in Nursing criteria for advanced practice and receive its authorization.
Psychiatrists (M.D., D.O.) are licensed medical doctors who have chosen psychiatry as their residency, or specialization. Psychiatrists are able to prescribe medication and often practice some form of psychotherapy. Psychiatrists may be Board certified in psychiatry and/or child psychiatry.