There are a variety of clinical backgrounds that lead to careers in talk therapy. It is important to educate yourself on the type of therapist that is right for you. Clinicians are required to provide you with information regarding their training and licensure so remember to ask questions. Many master level therapists have backgrounds in Clinical/Community Counseling (LPC), School Counseling, Social Work (LCSW), Marriage and Family Therapy (LMFT). Other disciplines include Psychologists (PhD), Psychological Associates (LPA) and Psychiatrists (MD). Each of these disciplines can provide talk therapy, though each has it's own specialty areas and theoretical foundation.
The following information serves only as a guide. Each clinician is an individual with a unique background to be taken into consideration .
Licensed Clinical Social Workers
This specialty area requires a Masters Degree (MSW), though there are Bachelor programs in social work and is also generally followed by state licensing requirements Social workers are also rooted in a wellness model. Social workers work in a variety of settings from case management to clinical counseling. Traditionally Social Workers were a source of social resources and utilized therapeutic skills as they connected individuals and families to needed services.Though specific licensure varies from state to state, typically this license is two-tiered; provisional licensure followed by full licensure.
This specialty area requires a Masters degree (MA or MS) and is generally followed by state/national licensing requirements. Counselor training is based on a wellness model with a focus on utilizing psychological theories to guide their practice of talk therapy. Typically counselor training includes a focus on clinical skills training. There are a variety of Counselor specialties certifications as well. Though specific licensure varies from state to state, typically this license is two-tiered; provisional licensure followed by full licensure.
These practitioners hold a Masters Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy that is also followed by state licensing requirements. LMFT's are rooted in a systemic model that accounts for the interactions between individuals that form relationships.
This specialty area requires a Doctorate in Psychology and includes training focused on psychological testing. Many psychologists administer test batteries to assist in determining an individuals strengths, areas of weakness, persnality traits and levels of mental and intellectual ability.
These practitioners are Medical Doctors with education rooted in the Medical Model. Psychiatric practice often focuses on medication prescription and maintenance of more acute and complicated mental illnesses. These practitioners by far have the most extensive understanding of the brain chemistry that leads to emotional and behavioral problems while also having a background in other medical conditions that can often coincide with or be confused with mental health concerns.
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners
Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners This higher level nursing degree is based in a wellness model. Nurse Practitioners are able to prescribe medications, and psychatric nurse practitioners have focused their knowledge base in the treatment of mental illness and generally practice on an outpatient level
***This site does not serve as a replacement for neccessary medical and/or mental health care. Please contact a professional to assist you with developing a wellness plan that is individualized to meet your specific health needs. In case of an emergency please contact crisis services for your local area. In the case of a life theatening emergency immediatly call 911**