If you are new to the mental health treatment world, you may feel confused and overwhelmed by the different letters at the end of practitioners names. Here is a glossary of mental health practitioner types and licenses.
Definition: A medical doctor (MD) or doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of mental illnesses. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication.
Definition: A professional with a doctoral degree (Ph.D. or Psy.D.) in psychology, trained to diagnose and treat mental health disorders through therapy and counseling.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC):
Definition: A mental health professional with a master’s degree in counseling or a related field. LPCs provide therapy and counseling services to individuals, couples, and families.
Clinical Social Worker (LCSW):
Definition: A licensed social worker with a master’s degree in social work and specialized training in clinical practice. LCSWs offer therapy, counseling, and support services.
Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT):
Definition: A mental health professional with a master’s or doctoral degree in marriage and family therapy. LMFTs specialize in working with couples and families to address relationship issues.
Definition: A generic term for professionals who provide talk therapy to address emotional and psychological issues. This term can encompass psychologists, social workers, counselors, and psychiatrists.
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP):
Definition: A nurse practitioner with specialized training in psychiatry. PMHNPs can assess, diagnose, and treat mental health disorders, including prescribing medication.
Substance Abuse Counselor/Licensed Addiction Counselor (LAC):
Definition: A professional trained to help individuals struggling with substance abuse and addiction. They may hold various degrees, including LPC, LCSW, or specific certifications.
Supervisor (e.g. LPC-S):
Definition: A counseling supervisor is an experienced and credentialed professional who provides guidance, oversight, and support to counselors-in-training or practicing counselors to enhance their clinical skills, ethical conduct, and professional development.
Definition: A therapist who works within a therapeutic environment or community setting, actively shaping the therapeutic milieu to facilitate positive social interactions and promote the well-being of individuals receiving mental health services.
Definition: A professional who facilitates therapeutic sessions with a group of individuals, fostering mutual support, communication, and personal growth within the group dynamic.
Definition: A professional who specializes in providing therapy and guidance to couples, assisting them in resolving conflicts, improving communication, and enhancing their relationship.
Definition: A professional who assesses, plans, coordinates, and advocates for the services and resources needed by individuals or families to address their specific needs and improve their overall well-being.
Definition: A mental health professional who uses art-based interventions to help individuals explore and express their emotions. Art therapists may have degrees in art therapy or related fields.
Definition: A therapist who uses music-based interventions to address emotional, social, and cognitive issues. Music therapists may have degrees in music therapy or related fields.
Definition: A professional trained in applied behavior analysis (ABA) to assess and address behavioral issues, often working with individuals with autism spectrum disorder or developmental disabilities.