Mental health provider degrees and certifications

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Mental health provider degrees and certifications

Mental health providers — Understand different degrees and certifications, such as Psy.D., Ph.D., and M.S.W.

Mental health providers can have many different degrees, licenses, certifications, registrations and other designations. You may wonder if the more initials that mental health providers have after their names, the more qualified they are to treat you. Or, you simply may find this "alphabet soup" confusing.

Although higher degrees and certifications generally indicate that a mental health provider has pursued advanced training and education, there isn't necessarily a direct correlation between the number of degrees and the quality of care you receive. You may be just as happy with a mental health provider who has a master's degree as with someone who has a doctoral degree and is board certified by several organizations.

In any case, understanding what all of those letters mean can help you sort out your choices for a mental health provider. In addition, your health insurance coverage may determine which type of mental health provider you can visit, so it pays to know the differences. Here are some mental health provider degrees and certifications that you may see.

Mental health provider degrees and certifications
Degree Meaning
A.P.R.N. Advanced practice registered nurse
C.A.D.C. Certified alcohol and drug counselor
C.E.A.P. Certified employee assistance professional
C.N.S. Clinical nurse specialist
D.Div. Doctor of divinity
D.O. Doctor of osteopathy
D.S.W. Doctor of social work
Ed.D. Doctor of education
Ed.S. Education specialist
L.C.S.W. Licensed clinical social worker
L.I.C.S.W. Licensed independent clinical social worker
L.M.F.T. Licensed marriage and family therapist
L.M.H.C. Licensed mental health counselor
L.P. Licensed psychologist
L.P.C. Licensed professional counselor
M.A. Master of arts
M.D. Doctor of medicine
M.Ed. Master of education
M.F.C.C. Marriage, family and child counselor
M.F.T. Marriage and family therapist
M.P.S. Master of pastoral studies
M.S. Master of science
M.S.W. Master of social work
P.M.H.N. Psychiatric-mental health nurse
Ph.D. Doctor of philosophy
Psy.D. Doctor of psychology

Last Updated: 03/19/2007
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