Accepting the fact that you need help is the first step to getting better when it comes to mental health. You know you need help, but whose help do you need? A psychotherapist, counselling psychologist, clinical psychologist or psychiatrist? Medical jargon may give you even more anxiety, especially when more often than not you dont know what they mean. When it comes to mental health experts, there are professionals with different expertise and skills. While their area of expertise may sometimes overlap, the kind of expert you need to see depends entirely on what you intend to achieve from your sessions with a mental health professional.To begin with mental health and visiting a mental health professional has a huge stigma around it, for an individual to fight the stigma, sum up the courage to visit a psychologist and this needs immense strength. And when they are faced with the further challenge of choosing between a Clinical Psychologist Vs Counselling Psychologist it may make the journey even more taxing, says Ms Sonali Tanksale, a practising clinical psychologist and psychotherapist.Weve made it easier for you to make your decision and explained what each professional does and what they can help you with, so lets get right into it!Counselling PsychologistA counselling psychologist addresses emotional, social and professional life-related mental health concerns. They help you be able to handle stressors and triggers in a much better way, thereby improving your sense of well-being. They also help you feel less distressed in times of crisis.Clinical PsychologistA clinical psychologist is a mental health professional trained in the diagnosis and treatment of mental, behavioural and emotional illnesses like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), eating disorders and more. Clinical psychologists often use psychological techniques, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) or other therapies based on the concerns faced by the client. This includes focusing on changing automatic negative thoughts that often lead to emotional difficulties, depression, and anxiety.While a clinical psychologist and a counselling psychologist may have similarities in their work, there is also a significant number of differences. Clinical psychologists focus on the study of mental disorders. This typically means working with individuals challenged by serious mental illness and on the other hand counselling psychologists aid clients to address emotional and social stressors in their lives, explains Tanksale. She further adds, However, apart from the basic differences, both would focus on helping clients lead a healthier life. They both are trained and experienced in interpreting behaviours and assist in identifying problematic behaviours. They focus on developing insight in clients so that clients can cope in stressful situations and function effectively. They use scientifically proven psychotherapy to achieve the above.PsychotherapistA psychotherapist treats people with chronic mental health conditions, by aiming to get to the root cause of the issue and using various therapies over a long period to deal with it. The end goal of a psychotherapist is to help relieve you of symptoms or behaviour changes that hamper your social or vocational functioning.A psychotherapist uses scientific therapies to treat clients for emotional problems and mental health concerns; these include everything from daily stressors, grief to specific mental disorders like depression or anxiety, says TanksaleIts important to note though that a psychotherapist may offer counselling and a counsellor may be qualified to offer therapy. Several mental health professionals work in diverse ways.Some forms of therapy used by a psychotherapist based on the preference and circumstances faced by clients include:1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)2. Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy (REBT)3. Eye-Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR)4. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)5. Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)6. Brief Solution Focused Therapy7. Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)8. Psychodynamic TherapyPsychiatristA psychiatrist specialises in a branch of medicine focused on the diagnosis, prevention, study, and treatment of mental disorders. A psychiatrists approach towards mental health is more medical, which means they will be able to prescribe you medicines that help you curb mental illnesses. That said, psychiatrists often work together with a psychologist or psychotherapist to combine psychotherapy techniques as well as medication to help a client. In many cases, medication and therapy along with lifestyle changes help in reducing symptoms.While a psychologist may conduct therapy, they do not prescribe medication. Whereas a psychiatrist can do both. If any psychologist treating you feels that medical intervention is needed, they may go on to refer you to a psychiatrist. These are the kinds of instances where the psychologist and psychiatrist work in coordination to treat the client. That said, if the psychiatrist has been your first point of contact, they may conduct therapy as well as prescribe required medication as per your need.Things to remember:If youre new to visiting a mental health professional, here are a few things that can keep you at ease and help make the right choice:- Always check for the professionals education training and relevant qualifications- Go through reviews and ratings to see what other clients think of the professional- Ask questions about their approach and way of working before starting your sessions. A simple how does this work? will also give you more clarity on what you can expect- Ask friends if they know a mental health professional by reference. Often knowing the fact that someone youre familiar with has been helped by the professional may put you at ease about their credibility and help you step into the process with more trust.- On the flip side, if the fact that the professional is someone you dont know is more suited to you, feel free to go ahead with that approach- Go in with an open mind! Its best to set aside reservations and trust the process to make it work and get the help you need.What Can You Share?Another thing that may get you worked up is the confusion of what you can and cannot share with your therapist. Here are a few things to remember if thats a concern you have: It is alright and common to not share your deepest and darkest issues with your therapist in the first session. Above all, it is fine to begin therapy by focusing on one main concern and then slowly revealing deeper issues. However, waiting too long can be detrimental. When faced with such situations, it is best to inform your therapist that you are uncomfortable discussing a particular aspect of life and you need time. Your therapist will help and guide you, explains Tanksale. If you have self-harm or suicidal thoughts, your mental health professional should be aware of the same. Understand confidentiality and discuss it with your therapist. It is best to ask questions and clarify doubts. If you are unsure about the progress you are making in therapy, it is best to discuss it with your therapist. Many people would rather just stop seeing the therapist than discuss this concern with their therapist. It is important to recalibrate whatever doesn't seem to be working, she says. When visiting a therapist, certain styles and theoretical orientations of the therapist are bound to click with a clients needs more than others. So if you are unable to find the right fit it does not mean something is wrong with you or the therapist is incompetent or that therapy doesnt work. It is best not to give up. If you are having difficulties with payments (money and financial arrangements can often create a hindrance in your journey to recovery, especially when these charges are not covered in your health insurance.) In such cases, it is important to ask your therapist if there are any options available that can help minimise the cost of therapy. There are a host of free therapy alternatives available today. When you feel your therapist has not understood what you are trying to share or explain. Give your therapist a clearer picture by talking to them about how you're feeling unheard or not understood.Concerns Covered In TherapyAre you wondering whether the issues you are facing can be covered in therapy? While you can consult a mental health professional for anything that puts your mental and emotional well-being at risk, heres a list of common issues that clients seek therapy for: Abuse including survivors of sexual abuse, rape and domestic violence. Trauma and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Anxiety, Worry, Panic Attacks and Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) Grief and Loss Depression, Feeling low and Mood Swings Eating Disorders Low Self-Esteem, Issues With Body Image, Self-Criticism Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Relationship IssuesWhile these tips and meant to help you understand an outline of choosing the right mental health professional and helping you make therapy more efficient for you, remember to always voice your concerns in case of doubts or confusion.