Who do I need: Counselor or Social Worker or Psychologist or Psychiatrist? by Faith Winters, LPC, ACS

Who are all these different kinds of mental health people?  When you first think about getting mental health help it can seem confusing to figure out who you need to talk to; there are so many different titles used to refer to different mental health professionals. Who are all these people and who do you need to contact? The task can seem overwhelming at first. Here are some answers for you.

 

The list can seem confusing: Psychologist, Mental Health Counselor, Mental Health Therapist, Mental Health Practitioner, Mental health professional, Psychotherapist, Marriage and Family Counselor, Marriage and Family Therapist, Professional Counselor, Psychoanalyst, Therapist, Counselor, Pastoral Counselor, Social Worker and Analyst.

To sort out the therapist list a bit:Mental Health Professionals

The main mental health professions asked about are: Psychologist, Social Worker, Marriage and Family Therapist and Professional Counselor.

The way to describe some of the work all these professionals do is: therapy, counseling, talk therapy, or psychotherapy.

Therapist or Counselor is the general way to refer to these Mental Health Professionals.

Which of these mental health professionals do you need?

If you are seeking talk therapy, any of these professions has individuals trained and experienced in talk therapy. Where they differ is in the focus of their specialty, for example:

  • Psychologist is a usually doctorate level professional who specializes in testing and assessment of brain function (i.e. learning disabilities, etc.)
  • Social Worker can be a master's level or bachelor's level professional who specializes how organizations and families function in society (how to get the agency help needed, etc.)
  • Pastoral Counselor can be a master's level or bachelor's level, or community level professional who specializes in spiritual concerns and how they affect individuals. Often Pastoral Counselors are ministers in churches.
  • Marriage and Family Therapist is a master's level professional who specializes in working with couples and family relationships (also works with individuals).
  • Professional Counselor is a master's level professional who specializes in general talk therapy with individuals (also works with families and couples).

When seeking a mental health professional it is appropriate to ask about the credentials of the therapist you are considering.  Some good questions include: How many years have they been providing therapy, are they licensed, what is their level of experience, training and education for your specific area of concern. Another area to consider is your level of trust and comfortable with this professional, and whether they are a good fit for you.

For a further discussion of the titles and phraseology used by therapists see the article The Titles and Descriptions Used by Mental Health Professionals

 

©2003 by Faith Winters.  Published in www.faithwinters.com 

 

Below is a list provided by the

 OREGON BOARD OF LICENSED

PROFESSIONAL COUNSELORS & THERAPISTS

WHAT DO THE INITIALS MEAN? LICENSE OR CERTIFICATION

ABBREVIATION

TITLE

GRANTING ORGANIZATION or AGENCY

ACS

Approved Clinical Supervisor

Center for Credentialing and Education (National)

ATR

Registered Art Therapist

National Art Therapy Credentials Board

ATR-BC

Art Therapist-Board Certified

National Art Therapy Credentials Board

BCC

Board Certified Coach

Center for Credentialing and Education (National)

BC-DMT

Board Certified-Dance/Movement Therapist

American Dance Therapy Association (National)

CADC

Certified Alcohol & Drug Counselor

Addiction Counselor Certification Board of Oregon

CCC

Certified Career Counselor

National Board of Certified Counselors

CCMHC

Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor

National Board of Certified Counselors

CRC

Certified Rehabilitation Counselor

Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (National)

DCC

Distance Credentialed Counselor

Center for Credentialing and Education (National)

HS-BCP

Human Services-Board Certified Practitioner

Center for Credentialing and Education (National)

LCSW

Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Oregon Board of Licensed Social Workers

LMFT

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Oregon Board of Licensed Professional Counselors & Therapists

LMHC

Licensed Mental Health Counselor

Oregon does not offer this license

LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor

Oregon Board of Licensed Professional Counselors & Therapists

MAC

Master Addiction Counselor

National Association of Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counselors

MFT

Marriage & Family Therapist

May or may not be licensed

MT-BC

Music Therapist-Board Certified

Certification Board for Music Therapists (National)

NCAC

National Certified Addiction Counselor

National Association of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Counselors

NCC

Nationally Certified Counselor

National Board of Certified Counselors

NCSC

National Certified School Counselor

National Board of Certified Counselors

QMHA

Qualified Mental Health Associate

Oregon Health Authority

QMHP

Qualified Mental Health Professional

Oregon Health Authority

R-DMT

Registered-Dance/Movement Therapist

American Dance Therapy Association (National)

RPT

Registered Play Therapist

Association for Play Therapy (National)

RPT-S

Registered Play Therapist -Supervisor

Association for Play Therapy (National)

SAP

Substance Abuse Professional

National Association of Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Counselors

 

COLLEGE DEGREES

 

 

ACRONYM

TITLE

 

 

BA

Bachelor of Arts

 

 

DMFT

Doctor of Marriage & Family Therapy

 

 

DMin

Doctor of Ministry

 

 

EdD

Doctor of Education

 

 

MA

Master of Arts

 

 

MEd

Master of Education

 

 

MS

Master of Science

 

 

MSW

Master of Social Work

 

 

PhD

Doctor of Philosophy

 

 

PsyD

Doctor of Psychology

 

           

Updated 7/14/2011

http://cms.oregon.gov/oblpct/docs/acronyms_licenses_degrees.pdf

 

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