We are experiencing exceptionally high volumes in our emergency rooms.
Every patient is important to us, and we are doing all we can to provide care quickly and efficiently.
Skip to main content
Go to homepage

Print Page

Health Care Providers: Behavioral Health Specialists

What Is Behavioral Health?

Behavioral health is medical care that helps manage emotions and behavior. The main health care providers who work in behavioral health are psychologists and psychiatrists.

What Is a Psychiatrist?

A psychiatrist (sye-kye-A-trist) is a doctor who studies and treats diseases and conditions that affect emotions and behavior. Psychiatrists can prescribe medicine.

What Is a Psychologist?

A psychologist (sye-KOL-uh-jist) specializes in treatment of diseases and conditions that affect emotions and behavior. In most U.S. states, they cannot prescribe medicines.

Note: Counselors and therapists also work to support emotional health and behavior. A counselor usually works with someone on a particular problem (for example, anxiety) and may only see the person for a few sessions. A therapist may go into more depth on a condition and see someone for a longer time. There is a lot of overlap between what psychologists, counselors, and therapists do. However, their training is different, their treatment approaches may differ, and counselors and therapists can’t prescribe medicine.

Why Would Someone Need One?

Behavioral health professionals diagnose and treat many different emotional or behavioral issues, including: 

They also can help kids and teens deal with long-term medical conditions or difficult life situations.

Treatment options can include:

  • individual therapy
  • family therapy
  • prescription and management of medicines

What Is Their Training?

Psychiatrists have medical training that usually includes:

  • 4 years of pre-medical education at a college or university
  • 4 years of medical school — a medical degree (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) degree
  • 4 years of training in general psychiatry in a residency

They may also do a fellowship in a subspecialty such as child and adolescent psychiatry. A “fellow” is a doctor who undergoes more specialty training after completing medical school and a residency.

Psychologists have training that includes:

  • 4 years of undergraduate education at a college or university
  • a more advanced degree, which might be a master’s degree, PhD (doctor of philosophy), or PsyD (doctor of psychology)

Counselors and therapists have training that includes:

  • 4 years of undergraduate education at a college or university
  • a master’s degree

Good to Know

Behavioral care teams also might include social workers, psychiatric or mental health nurse practitioners, family counselors, and others.

Reviewed by: KidsHealth Medical Experts
Date Reviewed: Sep 5, 2022

Lea este articulo en Español

What next?

Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
There are 10 nurses in the picture.

And we have many more pediatric primary care providers in Northeast Ohio. You can meet some of them here.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The five differences are:
– Phone color
– Coat pocket
– Stethoscope earpiece color
– Stethoscope bell dot
– Clipboard paper color

Need help finding a doctor, choosing a location or getting a general question about Akron Children's answered? Call us or fill out the form and we'll help in any way we can.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The two matching doctors are 9 and 14.

With virtual visits, you can see our pediatric experts from the comfort of home or wherever you are.
Summit Mall Play Area
Answer Key:
Click to expand
The correct path:
The Correct Path
We offer many ways to get pediatric care all over Northeast Ohio. Use this page to find the right kind of care and the most convenient location for you.