Finding a Psychotherapist

By: Robert W Stewart PhD FACAPP PA Posted On Dec 06, 2016

Finding a psychotherapist or counselor can be confusing. Many of my patients ask: "What is the difference between a psychotherapist and counselor?" and "What do all the initial after a person's name mean?" Let's look at these questions individually.

Generally, counseling helps with a specific concern that you want specific feedback on. In contrast, psychotherapy addresses patterns of behavior, chronic issues, and recurrent feelings. For example. counseling may be the answer to a specific concern to which you want feedback about whereas psychotherapy could be appropriate for addressing patterns of behavior which are limiting achieving your potential now. Psychotherapists usually hold a doctoral degree whereas professionals hold a master's level degree provide counseling--with some exceptions.  Now, let's address confusion about the initials.

If you see the initials "M.D" or "D.O." following the name of a behavioral health specialist, he or she is a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists are experts at treating psychological disturbances biologically (with medication). Rarely do these professionals provide counseling or psychotherapy. With this in mind, consider the initials "Ph.D" or "Psy. D".

The "Psy.D." designates someone with an earned doctorate in psychology. In contrast, the "Ph.D." identifies someone have earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree. The latter degree could be earned by completing a doctoral program in psychology, social work, education, counseling, and so forth. The initials "M.A", "M.S.W.", "M.S,", etc., identify a person with  a masters level degree. Let's now consider the "L.P.C.", "L.M.H.C.", "L.C.S.W",  "L.C.P., and "L.P."

The "L.P." and "L.C.P" initials identify a licensed psychologist, and the "L.C.S.W." indicates that person is licensed as clinical social worker. Usually, these licenses suggest the professional provides both counseling and psychotherapy. Persons with the designation "L.P.C." are licensed as clinical counselors and usually provide counseling--again with some exceptions.

If you remain confused, please contact me by email. Thanks for your interest!

TAGS: psychologsy, clinical social work, counseling
About the Author
Dr. Stewart has an earned PhD in psychology and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Florida. In addition, he is an elected member of the American Psychological Association and is a Fellow of the American College of Advanced Practice Psychotherapists. Only the most experienced practitioners earn that designation. He has been a provider of behavioral health services since 1979. As veteran of the US naval service, he is sensitive to the behavioral health needs of the veteran. As a Fellow of the American College of Advanced Practice Psychotherapists, Dr. Stewart provides quality and effective psychotherapy. Only the most professionally trained and experienced professionals earn that designation. We specialize in the assessment of and treatment of depression and anxiety (including PTSD). In addition, we provide effective treatment of substance abuse disorders (eg, alcohol abuse/alcoholism, other drug abuse/dependence) as well disorders of childhood, sexual issues, and relationship problems. If you are planning to marry, we are registered with Osceola County to provide premarital counseling, thus shortening your wait for a marriage license and discounting its cost.

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