In our office, we have different types of mental health professionals. When people call our office to learn about our services, they often are surprised at the options for providers and we are met with some of these questions:

  1. What is a licensed mental health counselor?
  2. What is a psychologist?
  3. What is a social worker?
  4. What is a marriage and family therapist?
  5. What is the difference between all of these?

Since we receive many questions about the differences between types of mental health professionals, we decided to answer these questions here in our blog.

When most people hear about therapy, they think of going to see a “psychologist” or “therapist.” However, the mental health profession is actually comprised of a wide range of clinicians with different specialty areas and different types of training.

Before we explain the differences between types of mental health professionals, we think it is important to note that one commonality amongst mental health professionals is that practicing and licensed mental health professionals have the professional training and clinical skills to help people learn how to cope more effectively with their life issues and mental health difficulties. 

Psychologists

Psychologists are doctors who have a doctorate degree focusing on the study of the mind and behavior. Psychologists have a Bachelors degree (four years), usually a Masters degree (two to two and a half years), and must have a Doctorate degree (four to six years) plus complete a one-year supervised internship and a minimum of one-year supervised residency.  All in all, before being able to get licensed and practice independently, psychologists spend about 10 years in school and have a minimum of six years of supervised clinical experience before being able to practice independently.

While there are many types of psychologists, clinical and counseling psychologists are the two kinds you are most likely to find in private practice providing therapy. In addition to therapy, psychologists are trained in psychological and educational assessment. Psychologists primary job is to diagnose patients and clients, determine treatment based on their observations, and in many cases, to provide psychological testing for advanced diagnostic cases to determine what a person is experiencing.

The biggest difference between a masters-level therapist and psychologist is that psychologists are doctors with advanced training and studies that lead them into more advanced and deeper counseling, psychological testing, and research.

Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC)

Licensed Mental Health Counselor’s are called LMHC’s for short. These are individuals who in addition to a Bachelors degree have a Masters degree in the counseling field. These masters degrees typically require around 2.5 years to complete followed by two years of post-masters supervised clinical experience before getting licensed and able to practice independently. All in all, they have a minimum of 4.5 years of clinical experience before being licensed and providing clinical services under their license. Mental health counselors are specifically trained to provide therapy and interventions for helping people to improve their lives and feel better. Their primary role is to help their clients work through emotions and challenging life circumstances, develop healthy coping strategies, and successfully adapt to their environment.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists are called LMFT’s for short. These are individuals who in addition to a Bachelors degree have a Masters degree in the counseling field, focusing on marriage and family dynamics. These masters degrees typically require around 2.5 years to complete followed by two years of post-masters supervised clinical experience before getting licensed and able to practice independently. All in all, they have a minimum of 4.5 years of clinical experience before being licensed and providing clinical services under their license. Marriage and family therapists are specifically trained to provide therapy and interventions to couples and families.

Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW)

Licensed Clinical Social Workers are called LCSW’s for short. These are individuals who in addition to a Bachelors degree have a Masters degree in social work, focusing on marriage and family dynamics. These masters degrees typically require around 2.5 years to complete followed by two years of post-masters supervised clinical experience before getting licensed and able to practice independently. All in all, they have a minimum of 4.5 years of clinical experience before being licensed and providing clinical services under their license. LCSWs provide therapy but also are trained to assist their clients with putting social services in place. These services may include connecting their clients with employment assistance, housing programs, support groups, and contacting other resources that would improve the lives of their client.

Psychiatrists

Sometimes, we receive calls really intended for psychiatrists. This happens when someone is looking to be prescribed psychotropic medications to help with depression, anxiety, etc. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who have prescription privileges. In some states, psychologists ARE able to prescribe medication, but Florida is not one of those states.

WE ARE HERE TO HELP

At Tampa Therapy, we have different types of clinicians to help and support you on your journey to living a better life. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. Whatever the reason, give us a call.  Remember, there are many reasons why people seek therapy. Professional mental health assistance can greatly benefit you in many ways, including making important changes in your life.

We are committed to providing therapy and counseling services in a comfortable, relaxing, encouraging, and non-judgmental environment to yield the most realistic and best outcomes.  Give us a call or email us today to schedule an appointment.

 

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