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Millions of Americans at one time or another have felt the need to see a mental health professional in order to help them sort out their options with a difficult situation, to overcome major obstacles in their lives, and to find out if they need medical treatments for their mental condition. Which mental health professional should you go see? You should first analyze your situation the best you can. You need to decide what your situation is or what it is you expect from a mental health professional before you can decide which type of professional you should visit.

• Psychiatrist. These professionals are medical practitioners. They can prescribe medication for you if they feel it's necessary and they can listen to your particular problems and needs. Psychiatrists are required to successfully complete four years of medical school and four years of residency training before they can become psychiatrists.
• Clinical psychologist. These are mental health professionals capable of diagnosing and treating mental health disorders. Clinical psychologists must successfully complete a doctoral program in psychology and must have at least two years of clinical work in a supervised situation. In addition, they must be licensed in the state in which they practice.
• Therapist. These are mental health professionals who don't necessarily need any particular training or licensing. They can be psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, or anyone else who wants to call him or herself a therapist. Anyone who provides any sort of counseling advice or helps people figure out their problems can call themselves therapists.