Counselor, psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker, marriage and family counselor; which is right for me?
When I first entered the mental health field, I had no idea how many different types of licensed mental health professionals existed. I thought it might be helpful if I give you a break down by provider and a short explanation. You can find a detailed description of the different mental health professionals on the state website, which I have provided at the end of this blog.
A licensed professional counselor (LPC) provides professional therapeutic services to individuals, families and groups that involve the application of mental health, psychotherapeutic and human development principles. A licensed professional counselor holds at least a master’s degree in counseling or a counseling-related field and also has completed 3,000 hours of supervised experience.
Marriage and family therapists (LMFT) work with individuals, families and groups utilizing “family systems theories and techniques.” A licensed marriage and family therapist holds at least a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy or its equivalent, and also has completed 3,000 hours of supervised experience.
The social worker provides services to restore or enhance social, psychosocial, or biopsychosocial functioning in individuals, couples, families, groups, organizations, or communities. I find this profession the most difficult to explain, because there are many different types of licensure. A licensed baccalaureate social worker (LBSW) holds at least an undergraduate degree in social work or was previously licensed as a social work associate A licensed master social worker (LMSW) holds at least a master’s degree in social work. A licensed master social worker-advanced practitioner (LMSW-AP) has completed all the LMSW requirements and an additional two years of professional, supervised experience in a non-clinical setting. A licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) holds at least a master’s degree in social work and has completed an additional two years of professional, supervised experience in a clinical social work setting. (See why I get confused?!)
A chemical dependency counselor (LCDC) assists individuals or groups specifically with chemical dependency problems. LCDC’s are not authorized to treat individuals mental health disorders whose problems do not include chemical dependency. A chemical dependency counselor must hold at least a two-year associate’s degree with a course study in human behavior and development and complete 4,000 hours of supervised experience.
A licensed sex offender treatment provider (LSOTP) provides services for the specific treatment of sex offenders (people who have been convicted or adjudicated of a sex crime or a sexually motivated offense. This is long-term comprehensive treatment often provided in a group format. A LSOTP must hold a mental health license as a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, professional counselor, marriage and family therapist, clinical social worker, or advanced nurse practitioner recognized as a psychiatric clinical nurse specialist or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. In addition to fulfilling education and training requirements for the primary license, an LSOTP must also complete a minimum of 1,000 hours of clinical experience and 40 hours of continuing education in sex offender assessment and treatment.
A licensed psychologist holds a Ph.D. in psychology, has completed an extensive internship, two years supervised experience, and has past the psychology licensing examination. A psychologist provides professional therapeutic services to individuals, families and groups that involve the application of mental health, psychotherapeutic and human development principles.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (MD). A psychiatrist has completed medical school and a specialty in psychiatry. Currently psychiatrists are the only mental health providers allowed to prescribe medication. Psychiatrist may provide some psychotherapy, but typically focus on medication management.
For more information visit the Texas State Board of Examiners of the respective mental health profession at www.dshs.state.tx.us and then click on the mental health profession of your choice.
Texas Occupations Code, Chapters 110, 502, 503, 504, and 505
Title 22, Texas Administrative Code, Chapters 681, 781, 801, 810 and Title 25, Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 450