When looking for a therapist, all those letters and titles can be confusing.
What does it all mean and does it matter?
Here is a brief explanation:
Psychologist: They received a PhD or a PsyD degree. In addition to counseling, they are able to provide psychological testing and assessments. However, some psychologists don’t provide counseling. They are focused on research and teaching.
Psychiatrist: They are MDs, able to prescribe medication but may or might not provide ongoing counseling. In some states, a PMHNP (Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner) is also able to prescribe medication.
LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist): They have a Master’s degree. The primarily focus is on therapy for individuals, relationship/couples, families and groups. LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor): They have a Master’s degree. The focus is also on counseling. There is little difference from LMFT. For some reason, in some states LPCs are more common and in other states LMFTs are more common.
LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker): They have a Master’s degree. The focus is on counseling and they are often trained in community mental health issues.
LMFT, LPC and LCSW are not able to prescribe medication.
In addition to their education degree, all of them had to complete extensive training (2000-3000 hrs) and pass licensing exams in order to legally see clients.
Sometimes, depending on the level of care needed, someone can be working with LMFT or LPC as well as a psychiatrist and a psychologist. Each clinician would have a different role and would collaborate together. The LMFT or LPC might meet with the client weekly, the psychiatrist monthly, and the psychologist for a short period of time for any testing that might have been needed / requested.
Having said all this, I would not choose a clinician solely on their license type. I would focus more on their training, their areas of specializations, what sessions might look like with them, how they view their role as a clinician, and how you feel talking with them.
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