Enhancing Help-Seeking Experience: Choosing the Right Professional Help

Enhancing Help-Seeking Experience: Choosing the Right Professional Help

Professional Help

Mental health issues, increasing is a global concern. It is crucial to reach out while dealing with mental health struggles. Help can be sought from sources that do not involve direct contact with other people, such as the Internet via self-help and motivational videos/ e-books, podcasts, mental wellness blogs etc. Due to the varied sources of help available people tend to get confused and end up seeking help from informal sources/ resort to self-care strategies / seeking help from professionals who might not be the right fit for their needs. We need to understand that sometimes seeking help beyond self-care can prevent the escalation of mental illness in many.

In a moment of desperation, we tend to reach out to support systems accessible to us without considering the authenticity/ genuineness of shared information by the help provider. Let’s try to understand that all help is not professional help. Your mental health is equally important to put into the hands of anyone.

Also Read: Debunking the Stigma: 5 Myths About Seeking Mental Health Professional Help

People have limited understanding in terms of professional help, especially the differences and similarities among mental health professions. There is a tendency to ignore the importance of various specializations available in the field of psychology. Unfortunately, they don’t bother to even do a background check before visiting professionals. Many times due to the stigma attached to seeking help many clients/patients seeking help refuse to share with others that they availed help. This also poses as a challenge sometimes for people who even want to find the right help. With the accelerating publicity of mental health services, it is also essential to be vigilant in terms of seeking help from trained professionals.

This article attempts to create awareness about specialized mental health services available.

Defining Help-seeking behavior:

Help-seeking is a form of coping that relies on other people and is therefore often based on social relationships and interpersonal skills. It is a term generally used to refer to the behavior of actively seeking help from other people. It is about communicating with other people to obtain help in terms of understanding, advice, information, treatment, and general support in response to a problem or distressing experience. Levels of help-seeking: We can seek help from a diversity of sources varying in their level of formality.

The different levels are as follows:

  • a) Informal help-seeking: Help is received from informal social relationships, such as friends and family.
  • b) Formal help-seeking: Help providers are professionals who have a recognized role and appropriate training in providing help and advice, such as mental health and health professionals, teachers, youth workers, and clergy.

Type of Mental Health Professionals


A psychiatrist is a medical doctor with MD (Doctor of Medicine) degree in Psychiatry. Psychiatrists primarily deal with the physical brain and what can go wrong with it medically.

As such, they are the ones who diagnose mental illnesses and prescribe psychiatric medication. (Note that primary care physicians can and do prescribe medications too, especially for conditions like depression and anxiety). Some psychiatrists also provide talk therapy in addition to medication, although it’s not their specialty. It’s not uncommon for people to see a psychiatrist for medication and a different professional for counseling/ therapy.

Clinical Psychologists:

A licensed professional who diagnoses and provides evidence-based psychotherapy to treat people diagnosed with mental disorders. They do not provide medical treatment. They possess professional qualifications in Clinical Psychology (M.Phil. or Professional Diploma / Psy.D in Clinical Psychology. The professional qualification need to be recognized by the Rehabilitation Council of India (RCI). These professionals are registered in the Central Rehabilitation Register (CRR)

Also Read: The Need for Mental Health Professionals on a Global Scale

Counselling Psychologist:

A trained professional who helps people with physical, emotional, and mental health issues improve their sense of well‐being, alleviate feelings of distress, and resolve crises. They do not deal with severe clinical disorders and cannot prescribe medications. They must hold at least a postgraduate degree in psychology specializing in clinical/counseling psychology. Many of them also possess a Diploma in guidance and counselling /PhD degree.


A trained professional who specializes in providing psychotherapy as a treatment for mental disorders. There are different types of psychotherapy; e.g. individual/group/family/couple’s therapy to name a few. It includes all types of psychologists who are trained to manage, improve or treat issues /disorders related to mental health. The minimum educational requirement to practice psychotherapy is a Master’s degree in Psychology along with completion of specialized courses in various types of psychotherapy.

Psychiatric Social Worker:

A trained professional who provides mental health support to people dealing with psychological issues due to the social challenges of life like poverty, abuse, trauma etc. It’s a specialized type of social work that involves supporting, providing therapy to, and coordinating the care of people who are severely mentally ill and who require hospitalization or other types of intensive psychiatric help. The minimum educational requirements are either an M.Phil./PhD in Psychiatric Social Work (full-time clinical program) from a recognized institute.

Also Read: Hundreds of Mental Health Professionals are being hired by Michigan Schools.

Rehabilitation Psychologist:

A licensed professional is expected to help and assist persons suffering from a wide variety of physical, sensory, and developmental disabilities to achieve optimal psychological, social, and physical functioning and to restore hope and meaning in their families. They possess an M.Phil. in Rehabilitation Psychology from an RCI-recognized institute.

Psychiatric Nurse:

A nurse specialized in psychiatry and mental health. They work with individuals diagnosed with mental disorders, their families, and a group of patients.

An insight in terms of the similarities/differences between the various specialized services available in terms of mental health before seeking professional help is of utmost importance. Research about treatment options will enhance trust trust-building process between the client/patient and the help provider. It’s also good to know that each of these professionals has highly specialized degrees and training. If you aren’t sure about what type of professional help you need to see, your doctor may be able to make a recommendation. Kindly do not hesitate to ask the mental health professional you decide to meet with regard to his/her academic competency/professional training received. Choosing the right service provider fitting your mental health needs is instrumental to the help-seeking experience.

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