What’s in a Name? Part Two

Story by – Public Relations and contributing author Shane Welch

September 12, 2012 - 3 minutes read

In the last Messenger issue we featured explanations for some of the numerous acronyms and credentials that may follow the name of our hospital services providers, doctors, hospital generalists and mid-levels.

In this issue, we will focus on our Behavioral Health Services and Wellness Department programs to explain some of the credentials, experience and training requirements which make our social services and behavioral health staff qualified to interact and engage with our patients.

Behavioral Health Aide (BHA)

A BHA is a community-based provider, and practices in their own village or community and works closely with a Licensed Clinician in assisting families and individuals. All of YKHC’s BHAs have undergone or participated in cultural-based training as part of their credentials and many BHAs have continued post-secondary studies, such as an Associate or a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work or Human Services.


A clinician is a practitioner trained in Mental Health (grief, mental illness, trauma etc.) services. Clinicians work to provide services for individual clients, or group/family therapy. Clinicians often work with a Behavioral Health Aide to provide services in a way that is culturally relevant or specific to a given village/community. Clinicians often hold a Master’s Degree in an appropriate field such as social work, counseling, mental health, etc. Licensed Clinicians go through a vigorous internship with high levels of supervision, experience and testing to receive their credentials. Clinicians do not provide medications, but can refer to a Psychiatrist who can assess and prescribe medications if necessary.

Psychiatric Technicians

Psychiatric technicians are behavioral health associates (who work with patients) and often have experience in working with adults with physical or mental disabilities. Often, psychiatric technicians hold an associate degree or years of experience and work with clients or patients in residential facilities. They provide life skills training, observation and support to patients or clients who may have minor physical or mental health needs.


A psychiatrist is a medical doctor with specialized training in diagnosing and treating mental illness. As a doctor, they prescribe medications when needed. Psychiatrists often go through extensive and comprehensive levels of education including a Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate programs in the fields of Psychology or Social Work.


A common or everyday term for someone working in Behavioral Health. Counselors include BHA, case manager, clinicians, social workers, or addiction specialists. At the community level many respected elders, traditional healers and spiritual leaders in a village or community can be informally referred to as counselors for providing healing, grief or counsel services to patients or community members in need of services.