Whom will I see?

When you seek Mental Health and or Substance Abuse treatment, you will see a variety of health care professionals. You may also deal with a case manager from the insurance company or treatment facility. Depending on the type of your insurance, a case manager (CM) may, in conjunction with your health care provider, assess your health needs, refer you to a specialist, coordinate the services that you will receive, and/or follow up on your treatment. In some cases, you may only speak with the CM over the phone; in others, the CM may be a qualified practitioner that you will actually visit. A qualified practitioner is any practicing health care professional licensed by the State to treat patients and provide health services.
The qualified practitioners that you may see during the course of your treatment include the following:

  • Primary care provider (PCP), the physician who provides you with basic health care services;
  • Physician assistant, a trained professional who provides health care services under the supervision of a licensed physician;
  • Clinical psychologist, a professional with a doctoral degree in psychology who specializes in therapy;
  • Psychiatrist, a professional who completed both medical school and training in psychiatry and is a specialist in diagnosing and treating mental illness;
  • Clinical social worker, a professional with an advanced degree in social work who provides services for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental and behavioral disorders;
  • Registered nurse, a trained professional with a nursing degree who provides patient care and administers medicine;
  • Nurse practitioner, a registered nurse who works in an expanded role and manages patients’ medical conditions.

Anyone of these qualified practitioners is referred to as a specialist if he or she has received advanced education in a particular area of health care such as mental illness or substance abuse. Your PCP should communicate with your specialist(s) to monitor your progress and to make sure that you are not receiving any treatments that may react with other medicines or disrupt any other health conditions.

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