Types of Mental Health Professionals and How to Choose the Right One

Tasneem Abrahams
Aug 25th, 2016

Online test

Find out the severity of your symptoms with this free online test


For those struggling with compulsive skin picking, finding the right mental health professional to treat the issue can seem like a bewildering task. With so many different types of therapy available, you may find yourself confused as to which type of professional and which type of therapy you should be using to see genuine progress. Finding the right mental health professional will save you time and money, but it will also help you see real progress. Consider this information as you seek assistance.

Types of Health Professionals


A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who is trained to both diagnose and treat mental health issues. While a psychiatrist is not typically trained to provide counsel for patients, he or she can prescribe medication to you. There are also psychiatrists who specialize in treating children and adolescents. If your compulsive skin picking stems from a condition like anxiety or depression, a psychiatrist may determine that medication is the best course of action to curb the habit. Of course, many individuals still seek other forms of therapy while also seeing a psychiatrist.

Psychiatrist or Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners have graduate degrees as well as specialized training in both diagnosing and treating mental conditions. They may prescribe medications for conditions like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and anxiety, but they may not provide therapy.

Primary Care Physician or Nurse Practitioner

Depending on your state, you may also seek out a physician or nurse practitioner to treat compulsive skin picking. They cannot counsel you to treat the issue in your mind; however, they may be able to provide medication that will assist with treatment. You may seek medication from your primary care physician on a temporary basis until you find a counselor or psychologist that you feel comfortable using regularly. Generally, medication on its own is not considered the best course of action for those seeking help with compulsive skin picking conditions.

Clinical Psychologist

This is a psychologist with a doctoral degree in a psychology-related field. Not only can a clinical psychologist make a mental health diagnosis, but they can also provide both solo and group therapy. For those with compuslive skin picking, a clinical psychologist may be a good choice. They can work on building skills in areas like stimulus control and habit reversal.

School Psychologist

School psychologists have advanced psychology degrees and typically work in institutional settings. Not only do school psychologists diagnose conditions, but they can also provide therapy for individuals and groups. Additionaly, these individuals will work with the school's educatiors and administration to create a more efficient setting for students to learn.

Licensed Professional Counselor or Mental Health Specialist

A licensed professional counselor typically has a masters degree in a psychology-related field, allowing them to diagnose and counsel patients. Counselors and other specialist fields who specialize in cognitive behavioral therapy may be the best choice for those who seek therapy for this condition without medication.

Nurse Psychotherapist

A nurse psychoterapist is an RN with special training in psychiatric and mental health nursing. He or she is trained to diagnose and counsel patients.

How to Choose the Right Mental Health Professional for Compulsive Skin Picking

A variety of mental health professionals will be able to help you with your condition, even if they are not traditional psychologists or psychiatrists. You may get a referral for a therapist or counselor from your primary care physician, but you might also choose to seek out a mental health professional on your own. You may also get a list of providers from your insurance company. If you are currently in school, you can get in touch with the college's psychology department in search of recommendations, and you can also call a local crisis center. The TLC BFRB Foundation provides accredited training to mental health professionals wishing to become more knowledgable in the treatment of skin picking and are listed by the Foundation on their website

In many cases, it takes one appointment to ensure that you have found the right fit for your situation. During this appointment, it is appropriate to ask questions. You might want to ask if the professional has ever dealt with compulsive skin picking before. Of course, you can also ask about your financial concerns. Overall, you are looking to build a connection with your mental health professional beyond looking at credentials.

At the end of your first session, it is important that you assess your feelings about it. Did you feel okay about the interactions you had with the counselor or doctor? Did you feel that the mental health professional was actually listening to you and answering your questions appropriately? Did you leave the session with a goal or reasonable expectation for your skin picking?

If you have a compulsive skin picking disorder or believe that you may have one, mental health professionals are available to help you. It is possible to find a professional you feel comfortable with, even if it does take several times before you find the right one to suit your needs.

Tasneem Abrahams

Tasneem is an Occupational Therapist, and a graduate of the TLC foundation for BFRBs professional training institute. Her experience in mental health includes working at Lentegeur Psychiatric hospital forensic unit (South Africa), Kingston Community Adult Learning Disability team (UK), Clinical Specialist for the Oasis Project Spelthorne Community Mental Health team (UK). Tasneem is a member of both the editorial team and the clinical staff on Skinpick, providing online therapy for people who suffer from excoriation (skin picking) disorder.

Online test

Find out the severity of your symptoms with this free online test


Start your journey with SkinPick

Take control of your life and find freedom from skin picking through professional therapy and evidence-based behavioral techniques.

Start Now