Schizophrenia: Choosing a Doctor and Therapist

Types of Mental Health Specialists

Choosing the right doctor or therapist to treat schizophrenia and other mental health issues makes a big difference. How do you find those professionals?

A number of professionals can treat mental illnesses, including the following:


These doctors diagnose and specialize in the treatment of schizophrenia and other mental, emotional, or behavioral problems. They can prescribe medications and do “talk therapy.”


They can’t prescribe medicine in most states. Psychiatrists and psychologists often work hand-in-hand and treat many of the same conditions.

Psychologists can also give someone tests to see how well they’re able to handle normal daily life.

You may want to look for a psychologist who does cognitive rehabilitation, remediation, or enhancement. This type of therapy teaches them how to communicate their own needs and show that they understand the needs of others.

Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs) and Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs)

These professionals are trained to provide professional counseling for psychological, emotional, and behavioral issues. They can specialize in areas such as marital and family counseling, relaxation therapy, stress management, and sex therapy.


Because LCSWs and LPCs are not medical doctors, they can’t prescribe medications.

Primary Care Doctors

In many cases, your regular doctor may diagnose your illness or refer you to a specialist.

Holistic and Alternative Medicine Doctors

They specialize in complementary and alternative medicines, holistic medicine, nutritional medicine, and herbal medicine treatments. These doctors may be able to prescribe medications but often choose different approaches that may combine natural medicines with mental health therapies.

First, they’ll consider what you need. Then, they may recommend other mental health therapists such as life coaches, psychologists, or psychoanalysts.


These psychiatrists, psychologists, or other mental health professionals have advanced training in psychoanalysis, which is a particular form of psychotherapy. But psychoanalysis isn’t considered an appropriate treatment for schizophrenia or other forms of psychosis. So this isn’t the type of specialist that your loved one needs.

How to Find the Right Mental Health Professional

To get referrals, you could ask:

  • Your doctor
  • Your health insurance company
  • Trusted friends, family, or clergy


You can also:

  • Use a referral service from a national professional organization for therapists or doctors.
  • Call a local or national medical society or mental health organization.

Before you schedule your first appointment, make a list of questions so you get the information you want, such as their:

  • Experience in working with people who have schizophrenia
  • Education, licenses, and years in practice
  • Fees, lengths of sessions, insurance coverage, and office hours
  • Availability in case of an emergency
  • Treatment approach and philosophy
  • Specialization by age group or condition
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Smitha Bhandari, MD on June 11, 2019



National Alliance on Mental Illness: "Mental Health Professionals: Who They Are and How to Find One."

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