Starting Therapy

What do all those letters mean?

The term “therapist” is often used to refer to a range of mental health professionals. There are several different types of degrees and credentials that someone who offers therapy may hold.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), a mental health practitioner will have either a master's degree or a doctorate degree. In order to have direct client contact, clinicians also need to become licensed through their state's licensing board. Requirements vary by state, but they all involve the completion of a degree, a certain amount of internship and/or post-degree supervised clinical experience, and passage of a state-recognized exam.

The following is a list of some common mental health credentials and degrees. Credentials, degrees, and licensing requirements vary from state to state.

CAC - Certified Addiction Counselor

CCTP - Certified Clinical Trauma Professional

CPP - Child-Parent Psychotherapy

DBT - Dialectical behavior therapy

LAMFT - Licensed Associate Marriage Family Therapist

LCSW - Licensed Clinical Social Worker

LCPC - Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor

LCMHC - Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor

LMHC - Licensed Mental Health Counselor

LMSW - Licensed Master Social Worker

LPCC - Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor of Mental Health

LSW - Licensed Social Worker

LPC - Licensed Professional Counselor

MD - Medical Doctor

MFCC - Marriage, Family, and Child Counselor

MSW - Master of Social Work

NCAC - National Certified Addiction Counselor

NCC - National Certified Counselor

Pre-Licensed Professional - Mental health counselors receiving supervision from an LPC

Psychologist - either a PhD or a PsyD. In Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) programs, the focus is more towards research. A Psy.D. (Doctor of Psychology) degree focuses more on clinical practice.