The Difference Between Different Mental Health Providers

There are so many different specialties, training and licenses when it comes to finding a mental health provider. Let’s break it down so you can distinguish what each person does, their training, and who you might go to depending on your needs.

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor/Licensed Professional Counselor (LCPC/LPC)

Clinical counselors are some of the more common professionals you would go to for talk therapy. In order to become an LCPC you must complete a graduate degree and be at least a Master’s level. Counselors cannot prescribe medication, and are only trained in interpreting and administering certain levels of battery and diagnostic testing, however for more in depth assessments, counselor’s typically refer out to Psychologists. Counselors can diagnose and work with clients to treat or cope with mental illnesses. Counselors are trained in empirically reviewed, evidence-based practices that have been proven to help treat certain mental illnesses or develop appropriate coping skills. Your counselor is a person you can have a lifelong therapeutic relationship with or you can turn to for quick solution-focused interventions.

The difference between an LCPC and LPC is that an LPC is provisionally licensed and still needs to complete their hours to test for and obtain their LCPC. They are not allowed to practice without supervision. Though they may be green, their training and education are fresh in their mind. LCPC’s continue their education with yearly CEUs. 

Licensed Clinical Social Worker/Licensed Social Worker (LCSW/LSW)

Similar to the LCPC the LCSW has a similar education route, and provisional license that must be supervised until reaching LCSW status. Programs for social workers teach in a slightly different frame work focused on community, advocacy and training that can be applied to different working environments. However, in the private practice world when looking for a therapist, there is not a large enough difference between a social worker or counselor to discriminate while choosing who is the best fit for you.

Psychologist (PsyD, PhD, EdD)

Psychologists can work in various environments, but if you come across them in a private practice setting they are trained to provide therapy. Psychologists are doctorate level clinicians, who are able to administer assessments and provide therapy in addition to a wealth of other chosen specialties. LCSWs and LCPCs often refer to psychologists for clients who are wanting to be tested for ADHD, Autism, or other more complex issues. If in working with your therapist, you both agree a referral is necessary, we would provide one for this reason. They do not prescribe medication.

Psychiatrists (MD)

Psychiatrists do not typically provide talk therapy. If you develop a therapeutic relationship with one, your brief sessions might have more depth, but often appointments are diagnostic in nature and to determine best medication routes. Psychiatrists are the only psychiatric providers that prescribe medication. You can find them at hospitals, clinics, in the community, or facilitating their own practice. Often you meet with a psychiatrist for an intake session, determine if medication is needed and then meet intermittently until you feel stabilized. From there, brief check-ins are made throughout the year. As their MD denotes, in order to become a psychiatrist, you have to complete medical schooling. 

These are the most common types of mental health providers you will see but due to the plethora of specialties, certifications, and training it can get even more specific to your therapy needs. Connect with us today to determine if our therapy approach is right for you! 

Contact Us Today at 217.622.7983