Discern Different Types of Degrees
Therapists come from a variety of academic backgrounds, including psychology, social work and education. Consequently, there are a number of different paths to becoming a mental health provider.
Type of Academic Degrees:
PhD: Doctor of Philosophy degree in Psychology
In contrast to a clinical PhD, a PhD in counseling psychology will have a greater emphasis on issues in educational and occupational fields.
A PhD degree requires four to five years of post-bachelor’s degree study of psychology. An individual may enter a master’s program after undergraduate study or may immediately enter a doctoral program, where in some cases a master’s degree is awarded after completion of part of the doctoral requirements. A PhD degree requires a research dissertation to be designed by the candidate on a specific area of investigation.
PsyD: Doctor of Psychology
A PsyD degree requires four or more years of post-bachelor’s degree study of psychology. An individual may enter a master’s program after undergraduate study or may immediately enter a doctoral program, where in some cases a master’s degree is awarded after completion of part of the doctoral requirements. A PsyD degree may or may not require a dissertation to be written on a specific area of interest, dependent on the program.
MD: Psychiatrist-Doctor of Medicine
MA: Master of Arts degree in Psychology
A Master of Arts degree in psychology requires two years of post-bachelor’s degree study in psychology. Not all MA programs require a written thesis. Many MA degrees in psychology are in general psychology or non-clinical/counseling fields of specialization.
MS: Master of Science degree in Psychology
An MS degree in psychology requires two years of post-bachelor’s degree study in psychology and a written research thesis.
EdD: Doctor of Education
As with other doctoral degrees, a doctoral degree in education requires four or more years of study after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in education, psychology or a related field. Not all EdD degrees imply expertise in education, child development, learning disabilities and education policy. They may be awarded by clinical or counseling programs that happen to be housed in a school or department of education rather than a department of psychology, e.g., Columbia Teachers College.
EdS: Education Specialist degree
An educational specialist degree requires coursework that complements a master’s degree in school psychology. A master’s degree in school psychology is usually completed through two years of study after a bachelor’s degree in psychology, education or a related field.
MSW: Master of Social Work
An MSW degree requires two years of study in social work after the completion of an undergraduate degree in social work, psychology or a related field.
LCSW: Licensed Clinical Social Worker
There are many types of social workers, and every state has its own requirements. However, to become licensed to provide counseling in most states, an individual must have at least a master’s degree in social work from an accredited program. Upon completion of a degree program, the person must complete at least two years, or 3,000 hours, of supervised clinical experience to be licensed. A candidate must also pass a state board exam that may consist of a written part, an oral part or both. In some states, levels such as intermediate, advanced and clinical are delineated according to years of post-degree experience and examination.
Social workers may also be licensed and referred to as:
LISW: Licensed Independent Social Worker
MFT: Marriage and Family Therapist
Upon graduating from an accredited academic program, the candidate must complete two years of supervised clinical experience in marriage and family practice before licensure or certification. Supervised clinical experience usually includes 1,000 hours of face-to-face contact with couples and families for assessment and intervention purposes. The therapist must also pass either a state licensing exam or the national examination for marriage and family therapists.
Licensed marriage and family therapists apply therapeutic techniques with individuals, families and couples. Psychotherapy usually focuses on issues of human development, communication skills and interpersonal relationships.
LPC: Licensed Professional Counselor
Upon graduating from an accredited academic program, two years or 3,000 hours of direct, supervised counseling experience is required. The therapist must demonstrate professional competence by passing a state board examination in professional counseling.
Licensed professional counselors sometimes carry the following titles, depending on which state they practice in:
LMHC: Licensed Mental Health Counselor
LPCMH: Licensed Professional Counselor of Mental Health
MHC: Mental Health Counselor
CMHC: Clinical Mental Health Counselor
LCPC: Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
The public often gets confused by the term “psychologist.” A licensed psychologist is an individual who has completed a doctoral degree in psychology, finished the necessary supervision, passed the psychology board examination and holds a license to practice psychology. This person is able to charge consumers for their services. Researchers who are not licensed and do not practice professionally may also refer to themselves as psychologists, because this is their area of expertise.
As new academic programs continue to develop, licensing requirements continue to change. Moreover, each state has slightly different conditions for licensure.
reprinted with permission from here2listen.com.
I am not a health care professional. I am an abuse survivor. The resources on
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not replace the advice of a licensed health care or mental health care professional. Please consult your own physician for health care advice.
last revised: 12/18/04