The different types of mental health professionals and how they can help your addiction

Embarking on the path to addiction recovery can feel like stepping into a maze of different professionals, each with a different role and purpose. Doctors, nurses, specialists, psychologists, the list may feel endless! Remember that it’s normal to feel a bit lost and overwhelmed. That’s why, in this blog, we’re not just going to throw jargon at you; we’ll clearly explain the roles and titles of the incredible folks in your corner who make up your support team.

Our goal is to guide you through this intricate landscape, providing a roadmap for understanding and navigating the vital roles of those standing by your side.



Psychiatrists are medical doctors with specialised training in understanding the ins and outs of our minds. When it comes to addiction, psychiatrists can be your go-to. They not only diagnose mental health issues but also prescribe medications and offer therapy. They’re a supportive, reliable go-to when you need help managing withdrawal symptoms or addressing underlying mental health concerns contributing to your addiction.



When many of us think of psychologists, we think of the likes of Sigmund Freud. However, we need to remember that modern-day psychologists are like heart-to-heart talk experts. With advanced degrees in psychology, they’re here to help you unravel the mysteries of your thoughts and feelings. If you’re looking to explore the emotional side of addiction, psychologists specialising in addiction psychology are your allies. They dive deep into the psychological factors, helping you untangle trauma, stress, and the emotional roots of your substance use.


Licensed professional counsellors

Now, here’s a role that often gets confused with a psychiatrist. Pro counsellors are mental health professionals who provide guidance to their clients. Imagine these counsellors as compassionate guides on your journey to emotional well-being.

Like Robin Williams’s portrayal in Good Will Hunting, although his title in the film is therapist/psychiatrist, his techniques with Matt Damon highlight the role of a mental health counsellor.

Good Will Hunting: It’s not your fault (HD CLIP)

With master’s degrees and a licence to provide counselling privately and through healthcare services, they’re experts in offering a supportive hand. They can be instrumental in your addiction recovery, offering counselling that touches the heart and soul of the matter. Whether it’s coping mechanisms, understanding triggers, or simply having a trustworthy companion on your recovery road, they’re here for you.


Clinical social worker

When it comes to social workers they understand that people struggling with substance abuse are often using drugs or alcohol to numb their feelings. Social workers aim to help these individuals manage their emotions and relationships better. The aim is to find healthier ways to navigate life’s challenges so they can overcome substance use issues and avoid slipping back into old habits.

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET Jordan Wrecks His Car Official Clip

Looking at Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in The Wolf of Wall Street as an example, we can see that while the film doesn’t show any form of clinical social worker, the character DiCaprio plays is crying out for one. Some folks might turn to substances for a temporary boost in demanding and high-pressure situations. It’s like a false sense of confidence, calm, or invincibility. It’s how they try to cope with life’s pressures.

Substance abuse counsellor

Working in various settings, from rehabilitation centres to community outreach programmes, substance abuse counsellors are dedicated to helping you break free from the chains of addiction.

While substance abuse counsellors primarily focus on helping individuals struggling with substance abuse issues, it’s not uncommon for them to address a range of behavioural problems and mental health issues. Many substance abuse counsellors are trained to work with co-occurring disorders, which involve both substance abuse and other mental health conditions.

Eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia, or binge-eating disorder, often co-occur with substance abuse. Both can be intertwined and may have underlying psychological factors contributing to their development. A substance abuse counsellor with expertise in co-occurring disorders can provide comprehensive treatment addressing both substance abuse and eating disorders.

Similarly, behavioural problems, like gambling addiction, fall under the umbrella of process addictions or behavioural addictions. Substance abuse counsellors may have training and experience in treating these types of addictions, as they often share common underlying issues related to impulse control, reward systems, and coping mechanisms.


Addiction medicine specialist

Addiction medicine specialists are not just doctors; they’re medical wizards with additional training specifically geared towards understanding and treating addiction. Focused on the medical aspects of addiction treatment, they bring a unique perspective to the table. If you’re seeking a comprehensive approach to overcoming addiction, these specialists are your go-to. They’ll know the best medicines to give to you before, during and after the detoxing stages, making sure the right medicine is given to you in your time of need.


Family Therapist

Family therapists specialise in working not just with individuals but with entire families. Why? Because family dynamics and support systems are integral to the recovery journey. They can be viewed as the weavers of emotional connections, addressing your struggles and the collective strength of your support network.

Family therapists are there to guide families through the challenges of addiction, giving them support and guidance in how to help you when you need it most.


Occupational therapist

Occupational therapists focus on helping you live and thrive by developing or regaining the skills needed for everyday life. When addiction has taken over someone’s life for so long, it can dampen their drive to go out in the world and work towards a brighter future.

Similarly, many of those who’ve had an addiction may have succumbed to life-changing injuries or ailments that stop them from leading a life they had before the addiction. Occupational therapists empower you on your journey to independence and fulfilment, whether in rehabilitation settings or your everyday environment.


Peer recovery specialist

These individuals have walked the path of addiction and are here to provide not just support but profound empathy based on personal recovery. Think of them as beacons of hope who understand your journey intimately. Peer recovery specialists offer insights, encouragement, and a unique form of camaraderie that comes from having been there and done that. They’re supporters as well as companions on your road to recovery.


Mental health nurse

Mental health nurses are registered nurses with additional training in mental health. They play a crucial role in various settings, including addiction treatment centres. They are compassionate healers who blend medical expertise with a genuine understanding of mental health challenges. Whether in a clinic, addiction treatment centre or throughout detox, mental health nurses ensure your physical and emotional well-being, providing a holistic approach to your recovery journey.

Are you suffering from an addiction and not sure what to do next?

Are you or a loved one struggling with addiction and feeling overwhelmed?

Reach out to UKAT for compassionate and effective treatment for various addictions, including substance and behavioural challenges.

Our experienced team is dedicated to guiding you towards a brighter, addiction-free future. Don’t let addiction control your life any longer – take the courageous step towards healing today.

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