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Types of Psychological Health Professionals

service member talking to another person

Source: Air Force photo/Senior Airman Timothy Moore

Maintaining psychological resilience, often thought of as mental fitness, is critical to your overall health and readiness. There are many kinds of health professionals who can help you maintain your psychological resilience. Although these professionals often work together as part of a larger team to provide care, it’s helpful to understand their skill sets and what they are qualified to do.

Once you’ve made the decision to see a psychological health provider, consider speaking with your primary care manager (PCM) about your treatment options. Your PCM will have an understanding of the available resources at your military treatment facility (MTF). PCMs can walk you through the process and help you get the type of appointment you need, including a referral to a TRICARE network provider if needed. You may even have access to an internal behavioral health consultant who can provide support in your primary care setting.

Psychologists

Psychologists are licensed, doctoral level health care providers who are trained to diagnose and treat psychological health concerns. Psychologists can assess and treat a number of psychological and behavioral health concerns, such as depression, anxiety, substance misuse and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Psychologists can also help teach you how you cope with symptoms related to such health concerns, manage stress and improve relationships.

Social Workers

Social workers in MTFs are trained to understand the demands of active-duty life. Social workers provide a number of important services such as case management, helping to ensure you get the right care and access to appropriate resources. Some social workers are licensed to provide individual and group therapy for psychological health concerns and can guide you toward the tools needed for reaching optimal health.

Psychiatrists

Psychiatrists are licensed physicians who are trained to diagnose and treat psychological health and emotional concerns. This includes coping with substance misuse and invisible wounds such as PTSD and traumatic brain injury. Psychiatrists provide counseling and are able to prescribe medication.

Certified Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners

Certified psychiatric nurse practitioners are nurses with a master’s or doctoral degree who have received specialty training in assessing and treating psychological health concerns. You may find these practitioners working in clinical areas such as mental health clinics or combat stress units. Their training allows them to prescribe medication under the supervision of a physician. Some certified psychiatric nurse practitioners provide counseling as well.

Other Psychological Health Professionals

There are a number of other psychological health professionals who may be accessible at your installation, depending on availability. These include certified marriage and family therapists, TRICARE certified mental health counselors, supervised mental health counselors, internal behavioral health consultants, and pastoral counselors. These professionals can provide medical counseling services that may relieve some of your psychological health concerns. Visit the TRICARE website to see which resources may be available in your area.

Understanding who is a part of your medical support system is valuable when working to achieve your psychological health goals. Contact a member of your health care team at your MTF for help getting in touch with a psychological health professional who meets your needs. Remember, reaching out is a sign of strength. If you or a loved one needs additional support, you can contact the Psychological Health Resource Center at 866-966-1020 to confidentially speak with trained health resource consultants 24/7. You can also visit our “Seek Help, Find Care” page to see a list of 24/7 psychological health resources.

Additional Resources

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