The Different Types Of Mental Health Counseling Services

Medically reviewed by Melissa Guarnaccia, LCSW
Updated June 17, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
Content warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention substance use-related topics that could be triggering to the reader. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance use, contact SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). Support is available 24/7. Please see our Get Help Now page for more immediate resources.

Many people are familiar with mental health services. Still, they may not be aware of the different kinds of health 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 personal relationships. Others may address specific mental illnesses, offering support to individuals coping with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, or addiction. In addition, online counseling can provide resources for marriage and family needs. Mental health counseling services can also be tailored to different demographics such as the elderly and children, for example.

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Types of mental health counseling services

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

Licensed clinical social worker

Licensed clinical social workers may be available in a variety of settings, such as hospitals, schools, and personal practices. They can provide diagnoses as well as individual and group counseling. They may 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 their progress after leaving the hospital setting. 

This can sometimes be confusing for people who are seeking a licensed mental health counselor but find a clinical social worker instead. Both clinical social workers and licensed clinical counselors have completed similar education and licensure. Many clinical social workers can also accept Medicare payments, which could make them a good fit for elderly people. 

Licensed chemical dependency counselor

A licensed chemical dependency counselor, or substance use counselor, works with clients experiencing addiction. Those living with a substance use disorder might consider receiving help from a certified alcohol and/or drug use counselor who may be trained for these types of recoveries. While most counselors are technically qualified to work with substance use issues, some may have more experience than others.

These types of counselors can work with anyone living with substance use, from teens to veterans. They can also provide services in times of severe mental health crisis. This could include 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, individuals can explain their substance use history, and the counselor may help them determine the root of the problem. The session might entail identifying any triggers for substance use and determining effective coping skills for achieving and maintaining sobriety. 

It is not uncommon for someone with an addiction to have another mental health illness. This is known as a dual diagnosis. According to current practice standards, individuals 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 could be necessary before working on other disorders. In addition to individual work, many substance use counselors offer group therapy, which can be an essential part of recovery work.

Licensed marriage and family therapist

Some individuals may find themselves in need of help with their relationships. Relationship challenges can apply not just to marriages, but to any relationship with another person. Therapy can address challenges such as divorce and infidelity. Relationship therapy can also include premarital counseling as well as communication and conflict resolution. Marital and family therapists are often available to help those experiencing problems within 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 member(s). 

Marriage and family therapists can also address challenges within the family or home system. Conflict between children and parents, adjusting to divorce or remarriage, and other challenges can affect the mental health of everyone involved. In these circumstances, a marriage and family therapist can serve as a mediator and create a safe space for talking about sensitive topics. 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 traumatic situations. They can provide useful advice because they have first-hand experience with specific mental health challenges. Peer specialists can also decrease the perceived stigma of mental illness while providing encouragement to their peers.

Licensed professional counselors

Mental health counselors – also referred to as licensed professional counselors – are perhaps the most familiar type of counselor. Their exact title may vary from state to state. These counselors are trained to assess and diagnose a vast range of mental and emotional health problems. They are qualified to treat any mental health disorder. Still, most choose one or more different specialties.

You may want to start by looking for a professional 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, for instance, could be more challenging. Each counselor may provide a range of services, including assessment and diagnosis or treatment of mental illnesses, treatment, prevention programs, crisis management, and more. They can also work in various settings, including clinics, hospitals, schools, and one on one practice.

Additionally, online counseling options can provide resources for relationships of all types, including those in marriages or parents who wish to learn the best ways to raise their children. Clients of all ages and identities can benefit from professional counseling services and may receive tailored approaches that are suitable for their needs and age group.

Types of mental health counseling services

Mental health professionals can be licensed for particular types of mental health therapy or services. Understanding the range of services available and how a mental health counselor can help to find more tailored care and a proper approach for your specific area of need. 

Below are just a few of the mental health counseling services that may be available.

Licensed clinical social worker

Licensed clinical social workers (LCSWs) may provide assistance with diagnoses, as well as offer individual and group counseling and recovery services. They can also help with the study, treatment, and prevention of mental health disorders. These specialists can be an invaluable source of information for individuals and families, connecting them with additional resources and referrals so the client can continue to progress outside of their sessions.

There can also be licensed social workers who may work in another location outside a hospital, such as the non-public sector. Generally, LCSWs possess many of the same skills as licensed professional counselors, as many have completed similar education and licensure.

Licensed chemical dependency counselor


Online sessions with a mental health professional

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

Online therapy platforms can match individuals with licensed professional therapists based on preferences, goals, and specific mental health concerns. The therapist may guide them through a treatment plan that could include counseling, interactive lesson plans, and other tools that can help them better understand their thoughts and behaviors. In addition, psychotherapy can improve symptoms from both physical health conditions and mental health challenges. 

Working with an online counselor can be a useful alternative to traditional therapy when seeking help for mental health challenges. 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. 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.”

“I was a little skeptical about doing online therapy. However, Arielle changed my worries into reassurance. Since I’ve done therapy with her, I 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.” 

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No matter which form of mental health treatment you choose, you can make measurable gains when guided by a licensed mental health professional. It may be challenging to admit you need help, but it could be important to know that 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 BetterHelp therapist online.

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