What’s the Difference: LCSW? MFT? PhD?
Really, what’s important is that you find a therapist that is right for you. Each of those categories of licensed therapists listed below are legally qualified to provide therapy in California. On the other hand, let’s demystify those letters…
Types of Therapists Found In California
The following text is adapted from the Therapist Finder website:
www.therapistfinder.com. For information of a more technical nature, visit the BBS website.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists
Also known simply as MFTs or LMFTs, licensed marriage and family therapists are clinicians with a minimum of a master’s degree in psychology, clinical psychology, counseling psychology, or marital & family therapy. They are trained to understand family systems, and provide counseling and psychotherapy from a variety of therapeutic orientations.
Licensed Clinical Social Workers
Licensed clinical social workers have a minimum of a master’s degree in social work and engage in psychosocial diagnosis, assessment and treatment, client advocacy, consultation, evaluations and research. They often work in hospitals, clinics, and agencies as well as in private practice. They work with clients through an environmental systems perspective. They also provide counseling and psychotherapy from a variety of therapeutic orientations.
Psychologists have a doctoral degree in psychology, educational psychology, education with a field of specialization in counseling psychology or education with a field of specialization in educational psychology from an approved or accredited educational institution. They often have advanced training in research methods, testing of brain functioning, psychological testing and evaluation, learning disabilities, and other aspects of psychology. They also provide psychotherapy.
Psychiatrists Psychiatrists are licensed physicians and they may prescribe psychotropic medications, i.e., medicines to treat emotional or mental problems. Some psychiatrists only prescribe medications, and some offer therapy as well. They frequently collaborate with other professionals to manage medications while another type of therapist provides psychotherapy.