There are a number of mental health professionals who can provide quality OCD help. The type of OCD help provided often varies by professional. If you are receiving treatment for OCD within a hospital setting or an intensive OCD treatment program, you are likely to encounter almost all of the professionals listed below. Learn more about providers of OCD help.
Psychiatrist: A psychiatrist is a medical doctor with highly specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, including OCD. Psychiatrists prescribe medication to treat mental illness, but are also versed in psychological treatments as well as specialized techniques, such as electroconvulsive therapy.
Psychiatrists must complete a medical degree and then a 4-year post-graduate residency in psychiatry. The professional activities of psychiatrists are regulated by a licensing board. In addition to the delivery of medical treatment for mental illness, psychiatrists participate in a variety of activities, including research and teaching.
Psychologist: A clinical psychologist is a mental health professional with highly specialized training in the diagnosis and psychological treatment of mental illness. Clinical psychologists do not prescribe medications to treat mental illness; rather, they use psychological techniques, such as cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), emotion-focused, and psychodynamic therapy.
Clinical psychologists must usually complete a Ph.D. in clinical psychology, including an internship, before being able to practice; however, in some states and provinces, a master's degree is sufficient. The professional activities of clinical psychologists are regulated by a licensing board. In addition to delivery of psychotherapy, psychologists undertake a variety of activities, including psychological testing, research and teaching.
Mental Health Nurse: A mental health nurse is a medical professional with extensive experience providing nursing services in the context of mental illness. Many mental health nurses have extensive training in psychotherapy, including CBT, and often help guide and counsel patients when they first enter the mental health care system. In some jurisdictions, nurses who have undertaken specialized training may be able to provide prescriptions for medication to treat mental illness.
Nurses must usually complete a college or university degree in nursing, with many going on to complete specialized master's degrees. Like other mental health professionals, nurses are often involved in a variety of activities, including mental health research and teaching. The professional activities of nurses are regulated by a licensing board.
Social Workers: A social worker is a health professional that specializes in providing support and counseling around issues related to housing, family, work and finances. Social workers are often very familiar with community resources and agencies and are able to help clients connect to the community and government services that they need. In addition, some social workers provide therapy in either individual or group settings.
Social workers must usually complete either a bachelor's or master's degree in social work. In most states and provinces, the professional activities of social workers are regulated by a licensing board.
Counselors: Counselors are mental health professionals who primarily provide therapy and support to individuals with mental illness. Counselors are usually well-versed in a number of forms of psychotherapy, including CBT.
Counselors must usually complete an undergraduate degree, and many complete specific master's and Ph.D. programs in counseling. The professional activities of counselors may or may not be regulated by a licensing board, depending on the specific state or province.
Occupational Therapist: Occupational therapists specialize in helping people to learn or re-learn to undertake activities that are important to them, including caring for themselves or others, caring for their home, participating in paid and unpaid work, and leisure activities. Specifically, occupational therapists specialize in providing support and training around returning to work after a prolonged illness, learning difficulties in the classroom, and difficulties socializing or enjoying leisure time because of functional changes.
Individuals living with OCD are often unable to work or attend school for prolonged periods of time, and occupational therapists can be key in designing a sustainable plan to return to work or school that is aligned with the skills, strengths and interests of the individual. Occupational therapists must complete an undergraduate or master's degree in occupational therapy before practicing. In most states or provinces, the professional activities of occupational therapists are regulated by a licensing board.