Generally speaking, most folks call any mental health service provider a “counselor” or a “therapist.” There are several different types of service providers that have varying levels of experience and schooling. Here are the common terms you might see when searching for a provider:
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC): has passed a national certification test and has completed a Master’s program in Counseling in addition to clinical hours worked independently under regulatory policies. An LPC is still under supervision and is working toward full licensure of LCPC.
Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC): a fully licensed Counselor who has completed two years of post-graduate clinical work under the supervision of an LCSW or an LCPC. They have also passed a second national exam.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT): a fully licensed individual who specializes in family work and couples. Their training is specialized in this area, however they are able to work with any issue broadly speaking.
Licensed Masters Social Worker (LMSW): has completed a Master’s degree in Social Work and passed a standardized national licensing exam. Social Work provides a broad understanding of human development, behavior and social justice issues. Social Workers typically are able to draw from many viewpoints and theories to assist clients in their learning and growth.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW): a fully licensed social worker who has completed at least two years post-graduate work in clinical settings specifically with supervision from an LCSW or LCPC. They have also passed a second national licensing exam.
Psychologist: has training in psychology as opposed to counseling or social work. They often also provide testing and diagnostics. LLPs are Master’s level psychologists, and a fully licensed psychologist must have a doctorate degree and pass a board examination.
Psychiatrist: a medical doctor that has obtained a full medical degree in general practice prior to specializing in psychology. They often provide testing, diagnosis and medications.
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner: advanced practice registered nurses who have completed graduate work such as a masters or a doctorate. They diagnose and treat mental disorders and prescribe medications.