What Is the Role of the Therapist in Mental Health Treatment?

Mental health is a crucial part of wellbeing. When it's not addressed, it can lead to many health problems. One of the most important parts of mental health treatment is the therapist-patient relationship.

Therapists play a vital role in helping you understand your emotions and manage your mental health.

This article will explore how therapists contribute to the treatment process. We will cover the responsibilities and duties of therapists in mental health treatment. We will also discuss how therapy can lead to improved mental health outcomes.

What is a Mental Health Therapist?

A mental health therapist is a professional who specializes in treating mental health conditions and emotional difficulties. They help people manage mental health issues like depression, anxiety, stress, and more.

Mental health therapists are trained to use techniques that help improve your mental health. Some common ones are:

  • Cognitive Behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps you change negative thought patterns and behaviors

  • Dialectical Behavioral therapy (DBT), which helps you manage your mental health conditions through problem-solving and acceptance

  • Talk therapy, which helps you explore your thoughts and feelings in a safe and supportive environment

A therapist's role is to create a safe, non-judgmental space where you can freely express yourself. In tandem, they gain insight into your mental health issues. Then, they will work with you to manage them. Therapists often focus on what your priorities are for your own mental health. You are involved in the treatment process.

Mental health therapy can be helpful for individuals of all ages and backgrounds. It's a valuable tool for anyone who experiences mental health challenges. While therapists are helpful for those with a mental health illness, therapy is also helpful for someone wanting to lower mental stress.

There are different types of mental health therapists. Each have their own areas of expertise and methodologies. Some common types of therapists include:

  • Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs): Professionals who hold a master's degree in social work and are trained to provide therapy and other mental health services

  • Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs): Professionals who hold a master's degree in counseling and can provide therapy and other mental health services

  • Psychologists: Professionals who hold a doctoral degree in psychology and can conduct psychological evaluations and therapy

  • Psychiatrists: Medical doctors who specialize in the treatment of mental health disorders and can prescribe medication

Below, we will cover each of these mental health professionals in more detail.

Mental Health Counselors 

Typically, mental health counselors can be Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs) or Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs). They hold a master's degree in counseling. They may work in private practices, hospitals, schools, and community organizations.

They help those who have common mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and family or relationship issues. Mental health counselors are often more limited in the way they can practice. They are unable to prescribe medications or perform psychological evaluations.


Psychologists have a doctoral degree (either a PhD or PsyD) in psychology. They are trained to perform psychological evaluations and therapy. They may also conduct research, teach, or consult in various settings. They often focus on more complex mental health cases like personality disorders, addictions, eating disorders, and others. They can't prescribe medication as it is not in their scope of practice.


Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have completed additional training in the field of psychiatry. Like psychologists, they diagnose and treat mental illnesses. However, unlike psychologists, they can prescribe medication.

They are also able to perform physical exams and order lab tests. They have the ability to refer patients for other medical treatments, if needed. They may work in hospitals, clinics, private practices, or as a consultant for other mental health professionals.

What Does a Mental Health Therapist Do?

The specific responsibilities of a mental health therapist may include:

  1. Assessment and diagnosis: Knowing the nature of your mental health issues helps you manage them better. For this reason, therapists start the therapy process with an initial assessment. They might interview you, use a psychological test, or both. This helps to identify if you have a specific disorder, and to what degree it affects you.

  2. Treatment planning: Therapists work with you to create a treatment plan based on your individual needs and priorities. This may include setting goals for therapy, identifying target areas for improvement, and determining the frequency and duration of therapy sessions.

  3. Therapy: This is the bulk of the therapy approach - the actual techniques used during your therapy sessions. Your therapist may use one or many evidence-based methods or interventions throughout your treatment. Some therapists specialize in certain treatment methods.

  4. Monitoring and evaluation: Therapists will track your progress throughout the course of treatment. They also regularly assess the effectiveness of therapy, and how you're feeling. These assessments allow therapists to adjust your treatment plan as necessary to provide the best care.

  5. Support and guidance: Therapists provide emotional support, guidance, and encouragement. They help you build coping strategies and resilience to overcome your mental health issues.

  6. Client education: Therapists provide education on mental health symptoms, causes, and available treatment options. They help you understand the importance of self-care, healthy habits and the role of therapy in your well-being.

How Does Therapy Help?

Therapy helps give you more insight and awareness into your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. By providing a safe and nonjudgmental space, therapists allow you to explore and understand your emotions, beliefs, and past experiences.

Through this process, you can notice patterns in your thinking and behavior that may be holding you back or causing you stress. By gaining a deeper understanding of yourself, you can develop greater self-awareness, which can lead to increased self-confidence, better decision-making, and improved relationships with others.

Additionally, therapy can help you challenge negative or irrational thoughts. This can improve your overall mental health and well-being.

What to Expect During a Mental Health Counseling Session

A mental health counseling session is a meeting between a patient and a therapist where the patient can discuss their thoughts, feelings, and concerns in a safe and confidential environment. Here are some things you can expect during a typical counseling session:

  1. Initial Assessment: As mentioned above, your first therapy session will include an initial assessment. This is to discover if you have any specific mental conditions, and to what degree. It also sets a starting point that you and your therapist can use to determine how much progress you're making in therapy.

  2. Setting goals: Your therapist will work with you to set goals for therapy. This can include target areas for improvement, like reducing anxiety or improving self-esteem.

  3. Talk therapy: Your therapist will allow you to talk freely about your mental health. They might ask you to speak more about your past and present thoughts, experiences and emotions. You might also identify sources of stress. Your therapist will listen and provide feedback, support, and guidance.

  4. Therapeutic techniques: Depending on your needs and any specializations your therapist has, they may use a variety of therapeutic techniques, like CBT or DBT.

  5. Therapy activities: Your therapist may lead you through activities like role-playing, guided imagery, or specialized worksheets.

  6. Homework assignments: Your therapist may give you homework assignments to complete between sessions. These assignments can include journaling, reading, or practicing specific coping strategies.

  7. Review of progress: Your therapist will regularly review your progress throughout the course of treatment. To ensure your best care, they may make adjustments to approaches and strategies.

  8. Confidentiality: Thanks to ethical laws and guidelines, you can trust that your therapist will keep your information and conversations confidential.  Your therapist can only share what you discuss when there is a concern about harm to yourself or others.

How Much Does a Mental Health Counselor Cost?

 The cost of a mental health counseling session can vary depending on many factors. These can include where you live, the type of therapy provided, and the therapist's qualifications. 

Here are some more details about the cost of mental health counseling:

  • Private practice: Private practice: The cost of a session with a therapist in private practice is a wide range. Typically, you can expect to pay somewhere between $75 to $250 per hour. Some therapists may offer a sliding scale fee based on your income.

  • Insurance: Many insurance plans cover mental health counseling, but the specifics of the coverage can vary. For example, some plans have a co-pay for each session. Others may have a limit on the number of sessions covered. It's best to check with your insurance provider to know what's covered for you.

  • Employee assistance programs (EAPs):  Some employers offer an employee assistance program (EAP) that provides a certain number of counseling sessions at no cost to you. The therapy provided may be in-person, over the phone, or chat-based.

  • Community health centers: Community health centers often offer mental health services on a sliding scale fee based on your income. Check your local services for availability and program details.

  • Public insurance plans (Medicaid, Medicare): Some public insurance plans provide mental health services. However, the availability of mental health services may vary. These factors depend on your state, availability of providers, and the specifics of the plan. Mental health hotlines: In the event of a mental health emergency, there are many free mental health crisis hotlines that you can call. Many offer specialized support for issues like grief, assault, family conflict, and suicide. Some also offer chat-based support. You can find many of these hotlines on the American Psychological Association's website.

It's important to keep in mind that cost should not be the only factor in your decision to seek therapy. The most important thing is to find a qualified therapist who is a good fit for you and your needs.

Goodpath's Mental Health Approach

When seeking mental health treatment, it's important to find a plan that's tailored to you. Goodpath offers therapist care alongside conventional and complementary approaches to mental health. Our programs include evidence-based treatment plans for an individualized experience. Visit our mental health condition page to learn more about how Goodpath's approach to mental health can help you.