Guide to Counselors and Therapists

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Registered: 06-24-2008
Guide to Counselors and Therapists
5
Thu, 01-07-2010 - 12:58am
I thought this might be helpful to some who are considering therapy, and want to learn about the different types of therapists and counselors.



States license individual practitioners, but the specific names of the credientals can change from state to state. The most common types of non-psychiatric counselors and therapists fall into five categories: marriage & family therapists, social workers, professional counselors, psychologists and pastoral counselors. The first four types are licensed in all 50 states and while the acronyms may vary, they most often have these credentials when licensed:



Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists - LMFT

Licensed Clinical Social Worker - LCSW (or Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker - LICSW)

Licensed Professional Counselor - LPC (or Licensed Mental Health Counselor - LMHC)

Licensed Psychologist - Ph.D or Psy.D



More detailed list of credentials can be found at: psychologytoday.com.




Marriage and Family Therapists (LMFT)



According the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (AAMFT):



"Marriage and family therapists treat a wide range of serious clinical problems including: depression, marital problems, anxiety, individual psychological problems, and child-parent problems."



"Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) are mental health professionals trained in psychotherapy and family systems, and licensed to diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders within the context of marriage, couples and family systems."



"The therapists you will find here are a highly educated group with everyone in possession of at least a Master's degree. Over one-fourth hold a doctorate or M.D. They also are a very experienced group, averaging 14 to 16 years of experience in practice.”



LMFT licensing boards by state: AAMFT online directory.



Find a Marriage and Family Therapist: AAMFT TherapistLocator.net




Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) and Licensed Independent Clinical Social Workers (LICSW)



The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) website says: "Professional social workers assist individuals, groups, or communities to restore or enhance their capacity for social functioning, while creating societal conditions favorable to their goals. The practice of social work requires knowledge of human development and behavior, of social, economic and cultural institutions, and of the interaction of all these factors."



“Social workers help people overcome some of life’s most difficult challenges: poverty, discrimination, abuse, addiction, physical illness, divorce, loss, unemployment, educational problems, disability, and mental illness. They help prevent crises and counsel individuals, families, and communities to cope more effectively with the stresses of everyday life.”



The NASW website has more information on how social workers help kids and families, and people struggling in relationships.



US/Canada licensing: ASWB Levels of Practice. (may not open with Safari browser, if link doesn't work try this one: Social Work Licensing Basics, click on "social work licensing" and "find a licensing board").



Find a LCSW/LICSW: NASW Registry of Social Workers.




Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC) and Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHC)



The Practice of Professional Counseling is defined by the American Counseling Association (ACA) as: “The application of mental health, psychological, or human development principles, through cognitive, affective, behavioral or systematic intervention strategies, that address wellness, personal growth, or career development, as well as pathology.” (see "Definition of Professional Counseling" under ACA downloads).



ACA listing: state licensing boards.



Find a LPC/LHMC: ACA Counselor Directory




Licensed Psychologists



According to findcounseling.com: “A few states use the term Licensed Clinical Psychologist as the professional title for psychologists rather than the more common Licensed Psychologist. The duties and license requirements for a Licensed Clinical Psychologist are substantially the same, however.



"Licensed Clinical Psychologists provide counseling and psychotherapy services for clients dealing with a variety of mental health issues or disorders. Typically, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist would be involved in more serious or difficult issues than would a Licensed Professional Counselor, but that is not always the case.



"Psychologists are the only mental health professionals required to hold a doctorate degree. Other mental health professionals such as Professional Counselor, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapists and Social Workers are typically only required to hold a Master's degree for licensure. Licensed Clinical Psychologists cannot prescribe medication - a function limited to Psyciatrists and other medical doctors, but psychology associations are pushing hard for the right to do so.



"For licensure, most states require that a psychology doctorate program include an internship (sometimes called a residency) of one year, which includes supervised work experience with clients.



Laws and licensing rules for Psychologists: US and Canadian licensing boards.



Find psychologists or other therapists: psychologytoday.com and findcounseling.com.




Pastoral Counseling



From the American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC):



“Under the auspices of AAPC, pastoral counseling adheres to rigorous standards of excellence, including education and clinical training, professional certification and licensure. Typical education for the AAPC-certified pastoral counselor consists of study that leads to:



~ a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university

~ a three-year professional degree from a seminary

~ a specialized masters or doctoral degree in the mental health field



“A significant portion of this education is spent in clinical training. Post-graduate training involves completion of at least 1,375 hours of supervised clinical experience (that is, the counselor provides individual, group, marital and family therapy) and 250 hours of direct approved supervision of the therapist’s work in both crisis and long-term situations.”



Find a Pastoral Counselor: AAPC directory.




Other Mental Health Practitioners



This list of other types of mental health professionals is provided by psychologytoday.com:



Art Therapist 
Art therapists have a master's level degree in art therapy or a related field. They are trained to use the creative process to help clients understand and better cope with emotional issues. Art therapists may work with groups or individuals and may use a wide variety of art materials to encourage clients to create visual representations of their thoughts and feelings.



Life Coach 
Anyone can call himself a life coach, though some associations are in the process of establishing professional guidelines for this fast-growing field. A life coach may have mental health training, or may draw upon personal experiences to offer clients help with setting and reaching personal and professional goals.



Pre-Licensed Professional 
A pre-licensed professional is in the process of meeting the requirements to become a licensed practitioner. They may be interns, trainees, students, or residents, and may treat patients under the supervision and guidance of licensed therapists.



Psychiatric Nurse 
Psychiatric or mental-health nurses have received additional training in dealing with behavioral issues, psychiatric drugs, and a variety of different therapies. They may administer medication to patients as well as provide psychotherapy and counseling.



Psychiatrist 
Psychiatrists are medical doctors, who, after completing medical school, receive an additional four years of specialized mental-health training. Psychiatrists treat the full range of emotional and mental disorders, and are licensed to prescribe medication. Psychiatrists sometimes use psychotropic medication in conjunction with therapy to treat patients.

"The last of human freedoms - the ability to choose one's attitude in a given set of circumstances." - Viktor Frankl.



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Ten Rules for Being Human




Edited 1/7/2010 1:26 pm ET by harmony08
"The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding."
Malcolm Gladwell Blink

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 01-07-2010 - 2:51am
Good stuff!

Also, found in our Information and Resource section see:


YOUR THERAPIST/COUNSELOR'S CREDENTIALS












"Ignoring the facts
does not change the facts"

~ Author unknown


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"Ignoring the facts
does not change the facts"
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-24-2008
Thu, 01-07-2010 - 10:27am
The article below: YOUR THERAPIST/COUNSELOR'S CREDENTIALS has a lot of good informations and tips, and it's absolutely right on two points: 1) the therapeutic approach is not dictated by the therapists credentials and 2) whether a therapist is a right fit for you is a very important matter, which also is not dictated or limited by the therapists credentials, nor does a certain credential guarantee effective therapy. Knowing a therapists credentials is only one part of choosing the right therapist.



Just to add some clarity on one point from the article: There are literally hundreds of designations, and you can quickly drown in a sea of letters: Ph.D., M.D., L.P.C., Psy.D., M.F.C.C., L.C.S.W., etc. Some are “licensed”, some are “certified”, others are “registered”.



There are "literally hundreds of designations" IF you count every minor variation in designation letters and every level of each designation in all 50 states. However there are really only a few main types of counselors and therapists, and if you know the types it is not so overwhelming that you must "quickly drown in a sea of letters."



Ph.D. and an M.D. are common terms for most of us. A Psy.D. another doctorate level degree called a Doctor of Psychology.



An LPC is a Licensed Professional Counselor. This type of mental health practitioner is recognized in all 50 states, all 50 states have a licensing board for counselors, standards for counselors, all counselors have a graduate degree, some experience and have passed an exam in order to be licensed. Though sometimes the letters vary. The two common acronyms for licensed counselors are LPC and LMHC. Here is an example of how the "letters" can vary for counselors. If you lived in Ohio and went to the licensing board for counselors, you'd find an LPC in Ohio has a graduate degree in counseling, supervised experience as part of the degree program and has passed a licensing exam. You'd also find that Ohio has a license for an LPCC (Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor). The requirement to be an LPCC is the same as LPC, except an LPCC also has 3,000 hours of post-graduate supervised work experience. A person could be an LPC while working toward their LPCC. By comparison, in Rhode Island the call it an LCMHC (Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor) which not surprisingly or accidently has very similar requirements to Ohio's LPCC: a graduate degree in counseling, supervised experience as part of the degree program, has passed a licensing exam, plus 2,000 hours of post-graduate supervised work experience. So some variation in requirements, different acronyms, no drowning in a sea of letters if you know LPC and LMHC = counselor and can look to your state's board for counselors to find out your states particular counselor "letters."



MFCC stands for Marriage, Family and Child Counselors which seems to be an old term not used anymore, in California it preceded MFT which is the universal term in all 50 states now.



LCSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and social workers are also licensed in all 50 states though like counselors, the exact acronym(s) can vary. As long as you know the "L" is for licensed, the "SW" is for social worker and can look up the particular acronym(s) used for your state, it's not too mysterious.



"The last of human freedoms - the ability to choose one's attitude in a given set of circumstances." - Viktor Frankl.



Photobucket



Ten Rules for Being Human





Edited 1/9/2010 9:36 pm ET by harmony08
"The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding."
Malcolm Gladwell Blink

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 01-07-2010 - 11:11am

I'm sorry you found it confusing, Harmony, but I'm glad you were








"Ignoring the facts
does not change the facts"
iVillage Member
Registered: 06-24-2008
Thu, 01-07-2010 - 11:29am
The article wasn't confusing to me personally. I did think it was trying to make the whole licensing/credential thing sound even more mysterious and convoluted than it really is. My point in posting was to clarify and demystify it. Other than that the article was very good.

"The last of human freedoms - the ability to choose one's attitude in a given set of circumstances." - Viktor Frankl.



Photobucket



Ten Rules for Being Human
"The key to good decision making is not knowledge. It is understanding."
Malcolm Gladwell Blink

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Fri, 01-08-2010 - 1:29am

Whatever the case, I'm glad you feel satisfied now.












"Ignoring the facts
does not change the facts"

~ Author unknown


Photobucket











"Ignoring the facts
does not change the facts"