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Why do therapists have so many different credentials?

If you’ve started your search to find a therapist, you may have noticed different letters after a person’s name. MD, PhD, PsyD, EdD, LMFT, and LCSW all represent different qualifications for mental health professionals who can provide therapy. We can break it down.

Let’s begin with a psychiatrist, “MD”

A psychiatrist, MD, writing a prescription | Why do therapists have so many different credentials? by Soultenders

Psychiatrists are doctors who specialize in mental health. Their training and education focus on how the application of medicine can support someone’s mental health needs. As doctors, psychiatrists can prescribe medication for various mental health disorders.

A psychologist is also a doctor specializing in mental health, “PsyD, PhD, or EdD”

A psychologist, PsyD, PhD, or EdD, conduction a psychotherapy session | Why do therapists have so many different credentials? by Soultenders

In contrast to a psychiatrist, a psychologist’s training and education focuses on the brain and human behavior. Psychologists can administer psychological testing to assess and measure behavior to inform and determine a diagnosis. Psychologists also use talk therapy to individually work with patients to address emotional distress, behavioral needs, and develop goals that allow for change and growth.

LMFT stands for licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

An LMFT, which stands for licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, conducting a therapy session with a young couple | Why do therapists have so many different credentials? by Soultenders

Contrary to their name, MFT’s are masters-level clinicians who can see individuals, couples, families, and groups.

Their training is based in various theoretical orientations to approach any mental health diagnosis using talk therapy.

An LCSW is a licensed Clinical Social Worker

An LCSW, a licensed Clinical Social Worker, conducting a psychotherapy session with a child | An LCSW is a licensed Clinical Social Worker

They are also masters-level clinicians. Training in social work prepares social workers to work as a therapist primarily with individuals in community-based settings such as schools, hospitals, or mental health agencies. Like LMFT’s, social workers can also diagnose and treat any mental health disorder.

This is just a broad introduction into each of these professions. There are certainly more aspects and nuances to each professional’s training and education. Your therapist is more than happy to share their education and training experience. In fact, therapists are continuing to learn and become specialized in different areas post licensure. It’s definitely worth asking your therapist to find out more!

Written by:

Lauren Pena MFT, ATR, LMFT # 130687

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Notice To Users / Disclaimer: Soultenders blog post is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptom or medical condition. Never disregard professional psychological or medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on Soultenders Blog.