Alphabet Soup… What does it all mean?
By Jenn Bovee, LCSW, CRADC, CCHt
Everyday people throughout Central Illinois decide to take the plunge into getting mental health. One of the barriers so many experience when delving into getting mental health counseling is attempting to decipher the huge barrage of initials and credentials that all of us professionals carry. If you doubt me, just look at the letters after my name, do you know what most of those letters mean?
Psychiatrists are medical doctors (MD) who prescribe psychiatric medications. Rarely anymore do psychiatrists provide actual mental health therapy or counseling. Partially because we are in such a huge demand and short supply for prescribers in this community. However, many general practitioners are perfectly capable and competent in prescribing psychotropic medications. So for some people their anxiety and depression medications may actually be prescribed by the primary care physician.
A psychologist typically does not prescribe medications because they are not a medical doctor. The credentials that you will typically see psychologists use include Ph.D or Psy.D. These are doctoral level clinicians, which means they have completed a doctorate in psychology and have gone through 3,000 hours of supervision prior to licensure.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist: This is a Master’s level license granted to people who have specific training in marriage, family, couple’s and relationships. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists have very similar training as an LCSW but with more emphasis on individual, family, or couple issues than on social issues.
Licensed Clinical Practical Counselor: LCPC’s are people who have Master’s degree’s in area’s such as counseling and therapy. According to the research I have done, LCPC’s emerged from school and career counseling historically. As things have emerged and evolved there has become huge overlap between LCPC’s, LMFT’s and LCSW’s. In order to achieve licensure, these individuals must practice for two years.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker: In Illinois, these clinicians will use the letter’s LCSW. This is a master’s level license granted to people who have completed 3000 hours of clinical supervision practice. Historically speaking, LCSW’s are more likely to be found in a community mental health center and agency settings. Within the last few years, however, more social workers have entered private practice. The big difference from a consumer standpoint is if you have Medicare as your insurance an LCPC will not be able to bill insurance for your services, but a LCSW may.
I would also love to encourage you to not wait until things get the worst they can before you reach out and get help. There’s no such thing as getting help too soon!
For more information on any mental health issue, you may reach out The Mental Wellness Center at 309-807-5077 or email them at: info@TheMentalWellnessCenter.com. Their office is located at 202 N. Prospect Road, Suite 205 in Bloomington. They are invested in empowering you to return to - or achieve, possibly for the first time ever – a state of complete mental wellness.