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I’m looking for a new therapist, what’s the difference? Masters, PhD, Md, DO or Psych NP?

Updated: Nov 5, 2023

by Elizabeth Rahamim, LCSW, SAP

What is the Difference between all of these different credentials? I cannot tell you how many times clients have asked me what the differences are between the LCSW, LPC, MFT, PsyD, PhD, Psychiatrist vs Psychologist, or Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner. Well let me break it down for you. You usually have the Masters level counselor, which encompasses the LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker), the LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) and the MFT (Marriage and Family Therapist). All of us may or may not be trained in all areas, so it is good to ask what their expertise is. Then you have the PhD psychologist or social worker, where they have extensive training and research experience, and often are qualified to conduct psychological testing for things like ADD, learning disabilities, etc. Then you have the Psychiatrist (MD; Medical Doctor or DO; Doctor of Osteopath), or Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, who primarily do medication evaluations and medication management, but are usually trained in counseling and psychotherapy, however insurance usually will not cover this in their reimbursement.

Ultimately, it is usually a good idea to be sure the counselor is a good fit for your personality and your presenting issues, as long as they are credentialed and licensed, most of the time they are qualified to address your psychological needs.


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