The Different Types Of Mental Health Counseling Services

Updated January 24, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Most people are familiar with mental health counseling services and what they entail. But they may not be aware of all the different kinds of services or the professionals and practitioners who offer them. There are numerous types of online counseling services. Some can help with mental health challenges   associated with physical illness, loss, and relationships. Others  address specific mental illnesses and offer support to individuals coping with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or addiction. In addition, online counseling can provide resources for marriage and parenting needs. Mental health counseling services can also be tailored to different demographics, such as the elderly and children.

Could Therapy Help You When Times Are Tough?

Most people are familiar with mental health counseling services and what they entail. But they may not be aware of all the different kinds of services or the professionals and practitioners who offer them. There are numerous types of online counseling services. Some can help with mental health challenges   associated with physical illness, loss, and relationships. Others  address specific mental illnesses and offer support to individuals coping with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or addiction. In addition, online counseling can provide resources for marriage and parenting needs. Mental health counseling services can also be tailored to different demographics, such as the elderly and children.

Types Of Mental Health Counseling Services

Mental health professionals are licensed for particular types of mental health therapy or service. Below are just a few of the mental health counseling services that are available.

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Licensed clinical social workers are usually available in hospitals or hospital-like settings. They areable to make diagnoses as well as provide individual and group counseling. They also help with the study, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses. Clinical social workers can be an invaluable source of information for individuals and families, helping them find additional resources and referrals so the patient can continue to progress after leaving the hospital setting. There are also licensed social workers who work in other settings outside a hospital. While they focus less on diagnosing, they are often just as helpful in assisting patients to identify appropriate referrals and resources.

Clinical social workers can also work in the non-public sector, possessing many of the same skills as licensed professional counselors. Sometimes this confuses people seeking a licensed mental health counselor but find a clinical social worker instead, Both clinical social workers and licensed professional clinical counselors have completed similar education and licensure. Many clinical social workers can also accept Medicare payments, often making them a good fit for elderly patients who want to address their mental health.

Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor

A licensed chemical dependency counselor, or substance use counselor, is someone who works with clients with addictions. Those living with substance use should consider receiving help from a certified alcohol and/or drug abuse counselor who is trained exclusively for these types of recoveries. While most counselors are technically qualified to work with substance use, they may have limited experience if it is not their specialty. It is okay to seek a counselor you like to see if they are suitable for help with your recovery,  Still, many clients opt to start with someone who has specific education and experience in working with individuals with substance use issues.

These counselors will work with anyone who is living with substance use, from teens to veterans, They can help in times of severe mental health crisis, such as leading an intervention or performing a clinical assessment to determine what level of care the individual needs (e.g., detox, inpatient/outpatient treatment).

In a session, you will explain your substance use history, and the counselor will help you determine the root of your abuse problem. The session usually entails figuring out what your triggers are and what coping skills will work for you to achieve and maintain sobriety. 

It is not uncommon for someone with an addiction to have another mental health illness. This is known as a dual diagnosis. Current practice states that anyone with a dual diagnosis should  first seek treatment for their addiction and reach a level of stability before moving on to address other mental health issues. Stability and sobriety are usually necessary before working on other disorders. In addition to individual work, many substance use counselors offer group therapy which is often very helpful and an essential part of recovery work.

Licensed Marriage And Family Therapist

Many individuals find themselves in need of help with their relationships. Relationship challenges apply   not just to marriages but to any relationship. Therapy can address challenges such as divorce and infidelity. But relationship therapy can also include premarital counseling as well as wanting to improve communication and conflict resolution. Marital and family therapists are available to help those struggling in intimate or family relationships. They tend to focus on eliminating dysfunctional patterns within these relationships in favor of a stronger connection with your partner or family.

Marriage and family therapists also address struggles in the family or home system. Conflict between children and parents, adjusting to divorce or remarriage, and other challenges can affect the mental health of all involved. In these circumstances, a marriage and family therapist can serve as a mediator to create a safe space to talk about hard things. In addition, they can provide suggestions and feedback for improvement.

Peer Specialists

Peer specialists, on the other hand, are unique counselors with experience in recovering from specific ailments or troubling situations. They can provide useful advice because they have first-hand experience with that particular mental health challenge. Peer specialists also tend to decrease the perceived stigma of mental illness while encouraging their peers or clients to recover or heal.

Licensed Professional Counselors

Mental health counselors – also referred to as licensed professional counselors – are perhaps the most familiar type of counselor. The exact title may vary from state to state. These counselors are trained to assess and diagnose a vast range of mental health problems. These counselors are qualified to assist with an FMLA for mental health and can treat any mental health disorder, But most choose one or more different specialties.

You may want to start by looking for a counselor who specializes in the field in which you are seeking help. For example, if you want help with depression, many counselors specialize in addressing those symptoms. Finding a counselor specializing in some specific mental health issues, such as sexual dysfunction or eating disorders, could be a little harder. So some extra research may be necessary in that case. Each counselor will usually provide a wide range of services, including assessment and diagnosis of mental illnesses, treatment, prevention programs, crisis management, and much more. They also work in various settings, from clinics, hospitals, schools, and exclusive practice.

Online Sessions With A Mental Health Professional

A growing body of research shows that online therapy platforms effectively provide a wide variety of mental health counseling services. According to one broad-based report on its effectiveness, researchers found that online therapy services produced overall positive results when treating trauma, anxiety, and panic disorder symptoms. Specifically, the study noted that online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) had the most beneficial effects of the 92 different trials they examined.

Online therapy programs generally match individuals with licensed professional therapists based on preferences, goals, and specific mental health concerns. The therapist will guide them through a treatment plan that may include counseling, interactive lesson plans, and other tools that can help them understand their thoughts and behaviors. In addition, psychotherapy can improve symptoms from physical health conditions and mental disorders. You can learn more about therapy from the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mental Health America, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or studies and evidence these institutions have published.

Working with an online counselor is a useful alternative to traditional therapy when seeking help for mental health challenges (note the differences between a behavioral health vs mental health counselor). Through the BetterHelp online therapy platform, clients are matched with one of thousands of qualified mental health professionals. You  are not limited to only those therapists in your particular area, so you have a better chance of finding one who is right for you and your specific concerns. The licensed mental health professionals at BetterHelp know how to help you along your mental health journey, no matter what you may be going through. They can offer professional medical advice for any mental health challenge. Whatever mental health condition you are facing, support from a mental health provider is available. Read below for counselor reviews from those who have sought help in the past. 

Counselor Reviews

“I've been working with Jennifer Evans for a few months now, dealing with anxiety-related issues and addressing long-standing negative coping mechanisms. I've made amazing progress in identifying underlying issues and establishing techniques to overcome my anxiety. Jennifer uses a variety of methods and tailors therapy based on feedback. She is quick to respond, extremely caring, and always insightful. I truly believe she has been integral to the progress I’ve made in a fairly short amount of time. I highly recommend this therapist and am encouraged by how effective online therapy can be.” Learn more about working with Jennifer Evans, LPC, LMHC

“I was a little skeptical about doing online therapy. However, Arielle changed my worries into reassurance. Since I’ve done therapy with her, I am feel a lot freer from my traumas that no longer serve me. Arielle genuinely cares for me and wants the best for me. I’m so happy I have her in my life now. Thank you, BetterHelp, for that.” Learn more about working with Arielle Manganiello, MS, MA LPC


No matter which form of mental health treatment you choose, know that there is help. It may be hard, but it is important that you know you are not alone when it comes to your mental health. Take the first step toward better mental health today and sign up to talk to a therapist online.

Frequently Asked Questions

How does counseling help mental health?

Counseling helps to increase communication skills, healthy coping mechanisms, self-esteem, and relationship efficacy. Overall, counseling, can help a person see several benefits in multiple areas of their life by  assisting them to break down and understand the core belief systems behind their actions. 

What three things can a mental health counselor treat?

Counselors can treat much more than three things-they can offer support for a wide range of mental illnesses, help with stress, assist with substance use, and build self-esteem. Providers can also help clients work through psychological distress, grief, and many more mood disorders or complex feelings. 

What is the difference between mental health counseling and counseling?

Most counseling is mental health counseling. While there are career counselors and other kinds of counselors, the term generally applies to someone who offers mental health guidance to others. Clinical mental health counselors can sometimes prescribe you medications. But to do this, they need higher levels of training to better understand the risk of medication as treatment. 

What are the five major goals of counseling?

Counseling can offer support for much more than five goals, and your individual goals for therapy will depend on you.Many people attend counseling toimproverelationships, improve their own behaviors, enrich the self, recognize potential, and enhance decision-making skills.

Is a counseling psychologist better than a counselor?

Both psychologists and counselors have chosen careers devoted to helping others. Counselors are trained in the general field of psychology and usually have a bachelor's degree. Psychologists generally hold a Ph.D. in addition to a bachelor's degree and have training in a more specific area of psychology. The counselor’s job description focuses more on direct contact with patients while psychologists focus  on using specific tools, like diagnostic tests and assessments, in their approach.

Are therapists and counselors the same?

These words are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. A counselor usually has a bachelor's degree and some training. Therapists hold licensing, have completed additional training, and may be trained in one specific area of mental health. Psychiatrists are also different from therapists and counselors because a psychiatrist can prescribe medication and drugs to treat serious conditions.

How do I become a counselor without a degree?

You can become a substance use counselor for adults in many states without a degree, but all other mental health counseling careers require a degree. Most aspiring mental health counselors should pursue at least a bachelor's degree, and, if possible, a master's degree. 

What are the five stages of counseling?

The stages are initial disclosure, in-depth explanation, commitment to action, counseling intervention, and evaluation or termination.

What are the core values of counseling?

Many counselors will give different answers, but all will revolve around autonomy, respect, collaboration, communication, care, and trust.

What is the responsibility of the counselor?

First and foremost, a counselor is responsible for supporting their clients and helping them handle their emotions. Mental health counselors work to promote mental health, healthy behaviors, decision-making skills, and goal achievement in their patients.

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