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Which Types of Therapists Treat Social Anxiety Disorder?

A List of the Types of Mental Health Professionals Offering Treatment for SAD


Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

There are a variety of mental health professionals who offer services related to social anxiety disorder (SAD). If you are seeking diagnosis or treatment you might be referred to a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, social worker or licensed professional counselor. Below are descriptions of the services that each of these types of professionals offer.


Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. Psychiatrists can provide psychotherapy for social anxiety disorder (SAD) and they are also licensed to prescribe medication.

Psychiatrists may work in private practice, at hospitals, universities, mental health clinics and other locations. In addition to working directly with patients, psychiatrists may teach, conduct research, offer consultations and work in administration.

Clinical Psychologists

Clinical Psychologists hold a doctoral degree (either a PhD or PsyD) in psychology. Clinical psychologists are trained in diagnosis, assessment and therapy but are not able to prescribe medication. Treatments for SAD such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) are typically administered by clinical psychologists.

They may work in private practice, hospitals, prisons, counseling centers and other locations.

Social Workers

Social Workers typically have a master's degree in social work and help people to solve personal, relationship and family problems. They may work as advocates for clients, teach new skills, link to community resources, and protect those who are vulnerable. They can also offer counseling to improve psychological and social functioning.

Social workers typically are employed by hospitals, mental health clinics, and government agencies or they may work in private practice.

Licensed Professional Counselors

Licensed Professional Counselors generally have at least a master's degree in counseling, psychology or marriage and family therapy (MFT) and at least 3000 hours of post-graduate experience. Specific requirements to be a licensed professional counselor vary by state or province.

Licensed professional counselors are certified to diagnose and treat mental health disorders and may offer therapy for social anxiety disorder. Typically LPC's work closely with other mental health professionals.

Which Professional is Best for Me?

The nature of your symptoms may help to determine which type of professional is best suited to your situation.

For those needing medication, referral to a psychiatrist will be necessary. If your social anxiety has created difficulty in terms of your work situation, family life or finances, a social worker might be best able to help with those issues. For those looking for talk therapy such as CBT, meeting with a clinical psychologist or licensed professional counselor is probably the best choice.


United States Department of Veterans Affairs. Types of Therapists. Accessed August 31, 2013.

Counseling.org. Who are Licensed Professional Counselors? Accessed August 31st, 2013.

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