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I want to help people with disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder and ADHD. What would be the best career path for me to follow?

I have researched many different types of counseling and physiologist jobs and Im not sure which one is the right fit for me.

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Naomi Hardy

It depends on in what capacity you want to help these individuals. I would ask yourself these questions: do you want the ability to prescribe medication? Conduct psychological research? Teach? Provide behavioral therapy alone?

In many states, psychiatrists who have attended medical school are the only professionals able to prescribe psychiatric medications. In terms of a career path, they have completed 4 years of college (in most cases), 4 years medical school, and 4 years residency training.

A clinical psychologist also works with individuals suffering from the disorders you mentioned, but instead of an MD have a PhD or PsyD in clinical psychology (less schooling than an MD but still completed graduate-level work). Typically they can’t prescribe medication (there are state exceptions) and don’t really work as therapists; instead they do a lot of teaching or psychological research.

Then there are counselors, who typically also have a masters and provide therapy alone to the individual or their family (cannot prescribe medication). They tend to focus more on the issues in everyday life instead of severe mental illnesses like depression. Just to mention a few other career paths, clinical social workers and psychiatric nurses also provide psychotherapy services in most states (social workers typically connect their clients with the necessary resources whereas nurses work with the doctors to prescribe psychiatric medication).

Hope that helps, if you have any further questions please feel free to ask!

Answered 7 years ago

Naomi Hardy