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.