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Psychologist vs LCSW vs LPC

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Posted

Anyone care to school me on the differences in the professions?

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Posted

A psychologist has a doctoral degree in psychology (could be PhD or PsyD), a licensed professional counselor has a master's degree (usually, maybe it varies from state to state?) in counseling, and a LCSW, usually with a master's degree also, is a social worker trained in psychotherapy and counseling.

All three are sanctioned by state licensure boards, so the requirements might vary a little on the LPNs and LCSWs.

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Thanks Dream, I am curious as to how each profession usually "counsels", like is the PHD better at the diagnostic part, or the Social Worker is just about social issues, etc. I have been with a LCSW for a few years and she ended up being NO help in the end.

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Posted (edited)

Obviously, a psychologist has more education and usually they deal more with "real" mental illness as opposed to the everyday living problems and such which social workers are more likely to normally handle. So yeah, I think that the PhD is better at the diagnostic part. If you didn't get anything from the LCSW, you should definitely try a psychologist.

Personally I'm a snob and prefer the psychologist all around, but I know that some people have had very good experiences with masters level clinicians. It really depends on the person and what their education/training was like.

ps: lmnop, yikes...

and yeah, I think Dr. Laura is ridiculous, too...her phid is in physiology!

Edited by dreamingagain

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Ah, but "Doctor" Laura got a Master's degree in making money!!

hee hee

I saw a CSW years ago when my first marriage was imploding.  She was really good, got me through it and I would use someone like that again for marriage counseling or family dynamics. 

olga

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Posted (edited)

In the state in which I live, anyone can hang out a shingle and call themselves a "psychotherapist".

You can say you are a psychologist only if you have the PhD/PsyD degree and are licenced.

In my state, they do not offer a LPC licence. You can practice individual therapy with a MSW degree and licencing.

Other states have a Master's level degree called Mental Health Counselor. This too is a licensable degree in some states.

And to just add the final touch to the mess that is licensing and standardization of therapists, a new law has recently been passed so that the only people who may hang out a shingle and be licenced and get insurance reimbursement will be PhD/PsyD, MSW(and variants of the MSW) and they are adding the Mental Health Counseling licence. Others who are practicing under other non-licenced degrees will have to meet qualifications for licensure, or they will not be able to practice any more.

So there you go. Oy Vey

suzy

Edited by sepia
removal of full name - tos

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Posted

Anyone can hang out a shingle in the US with 'therapist' on it as long as they somehow infer they're part of alternative medicine.

There's one here that's a "Christian Therapist".

She might be Christian, but high school was far as she got as far as the therapist part goes and she didn't even finish that.

Being as she's alternative medicine, she also needs no licensing and can't readily be sued. Plus she charges about 40 bucks per half hour.

Ain't loopholes great?

Wonder if the boards that certify real shrinks actually check to see if it's a diploma mill's work. If not, there's really no point in checking at all.

For a thousand bucks of anyone's money you can get any degree you want. ;)

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Posted

Heya,

Yah here (Ontario) too, anyone can be a "therapist" or "counselor," but "psychologist" and "social worker" are specific professional licenses.

Psychologists and MSWs have a similar scope of practice, really, but different educations.  Psychology is associated more with psychiatry in school than is social work.

In my experience, psychologists are less anti-psychiatry in general than MSWs.

But they all have their different specializations and approaches, which makes it a big job sometimes getting a good match.

Re. the diploma mills.  This is a real problem.  Maybe less so in some professions than others, b/c us Ontario family docs, for example, had to pass a wack of province-wide and Canada-wide exams to get our licenses.  Plus there are a lot fewer universities in Canada.

My next thearapist is going to be a GP psychotherapist, which is a family doc who does psychotherapy.  Their training can range from no special training to a full 1-2 year fellowship in psychiatry.

This decision is mainly b/c GP psych is mostly covered by OHIP (provincial insurance), which the others are not, and I have no benefits.

--ncc--

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Posted

Anyone care to school me on the differences in the professions?

I have looked into this issue. I am a two internships away from graduating with my M.A. in counseling. I will be an LPC. What I have discovered is that there are two different reasons for the differences. Psychologists LLP or LP are trained in assesment more. There is a Masters level psychologist in michigan but this very rare and is being phased out in michigan.

LPCs are trained primarily in individual and group therapy. The whole degree is focussed various therapuetic techniques and special populations. They are the Masters leve therapists in most states. They are not as common for two reasons. The LPC license is new when compared to psychologists and social workers, and their lobby is not as strong politically. It is likely that a masters level social worker working as a therapist has not had as extensive training in therapy as an LPC.

The MSW tends to be very broad and functionally can be used in many contexts. However, this is more a function of the history and political power behind the MSW as opposed to a reflection of the actual skill and expertise of the counselors holding that license.

Give an LPC a try, they are affordable and highly skilled. If you need testing that can be outsourced.

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Posted

I think it depends on the person's therapeutic style and their level of experience. The initials after their name don't mean much, as long as they are at least an LPC, PSY.D/ph.D, or LCSW. I do think though that social workers aren't trained in the more scientific aspects, but in social aspects of mental health. That is why I got my M.A. in clinical psychology and I"m working on my LPC in my state. I'm just finishing my post master's hours now. I do therapy in this setting (group home) but to be reimbursed for individual therapy by private insurance I need that LPC.

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Posted

I think it's a great question. I'm an MSW student and I think there are some myths being promoted here. There aren't a whole lot of differences in terms of how LPC's counsel as opposed to LCSW's. Any differences that do exist are likely a result of individual programs and not the professions as a whole. They use generally the same counseling theories and modalities. Social workers are probably more likely to consider the person and their environment as a source of distress and not just look at the individual's "problem" as existing just between their two ears. Social workers may also be activists outside of their counseling. MSW programs typically require more credits than professional counseling programs. Studies typically show that phd level psychologists are no better than masters-level practiioners. In my state, Missouri, LCSW's can diagnose, but LPC's cannot. If someone doesn't like their counselor, it's likely not because of the letters after their name and I wouldn't swear on any single profession.

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The MSW degree can be broad, but people interested in therapy fill their degree with all the therapy classes possible. LCSW's are just as qualified to treat individuals with severe mental illnesses. A lot of people pick the MSW degree over the MA in counseling or whatever because LCSW's can be licensed in all 50 states to perform psychotherapy, whereas some states will not allow master's level psychologists to do so (meaning you'd have to have a phd). Many insurance companies prefer to reimburse LCSW's for counseling as opposed to LPC's. Governmental agencies and hospital's typically prefer LCSW's as well because they are better equipped to navigate social systems, to help the client in ways beyond just talking (ie case management and taking advantage of the social welfare system), and because of their extensive training in social justice and oppression I would argue that LCSW's are better able to do cross-cultural counseliing. Psychotherapy can be a really elite form of direct practice and not every client wants that.

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The MSW degree can be broad, but people interested in therapy fill their degree with all the therapy classes possible. LCSW's are just as qualified to treat individuals with severe mental illnesses. A lot of people pick the MSW degree over the MA in counseling or whatever because LCSW's can be licensed in all 50 states to perform psychotherapy, whereas some states will not allow master's level psychologists to do so (meaning you'd have to have a phd). Many insurance companies prefer to reimburse LCSW's for counseling as opposed to LPC's. Governmental agencies and hospital's typically prefer LCSW's as well because they are better equipped to navigate social systems, to help the client in ways beyond just talking (ie case management and taking advantage of the social welfare system), and because of their extensive training in social justice and oppression I would argue that LCSW's are better able to do cross-cultural counseliing. Psychotherapy can be a really elite form of direct practice and not every client wants that.

I think what John means by "psychotherapy" being elitist applies more to psychoanalysis or other neo-Freudian psychodynamic approaches. Actually the term "psychotherapy" is generally used to refer to many different perspectives and approaches to "talk therapy," just a few examples of which are cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy, cognitive therapy, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). The previous comments are correct in that the research has shown that no one profession (psychologist, social worker, or counselor) is more effective than any other, but what DOES matter is the type of treatment used. Most psychologists with modern training are trained in many of these different techniques and try to use techniques that have been scientifically shown to be more effective with certain problems or specific diagnoses. In my experience it seems that psychologists (Master's level as well as doctorate) tend to have more training in a wider range of techniques. A few states (like Kansas) license master's level psychologists separately, but in many states (like Missouri) master's level psychologists are licensed with an LPC along with professional counselors.

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Posted

Anyone care to school me on the differences in the professions?

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I work in the field and have for about 13 years. I am a master's level educated and trained in COUNSELING psychology. It is my opinion, as well as experience, that LCSW's are NOT trained in psychotherapy, as their trainnig is primarily in the area of helping individuals with housing, food, etc. I feel that because the LCSW's have a larger lobbying group on Capitol Hill, they are able to do third party billing. I have heard fom numerous folks who come to my office about the lack of skill and experience LCSW's have with reagrd to PSYCHOTHERAPY. Please, be careful about who you see. Ask questions like, "What is your theoretical orientation?" "Did you study psychotherapy or social work?"I could go on. I trust you get my point. After all, i hope that if you needed assistance with a toothache, you would make an appointment with a podiatrist.

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I work in the field and have for about 13 years. I am a master's level educated and trained in COUNSELING psychology. It is my opinion, as well as experience, that LCSW's are NOT trained in psychotherapy, as their trainnig is primarily in the area of helping individuals with housing, food, etc. I feel that because the LCSW's have a larger lobbying group on Capitol Hill, they are able to do third party billing. I have heard fom numerous folks who come to my office about the lack of skill and experience LCSW's have with reagrd to PSYCHOTHERAPY. Please, be careful about who you see. Ask questions like, "What is your theoretical orientation?" "Did you study psychotherapy or social work?"I could go on. I trust you get my point. After all, i hope that if you needed assistance with a toothache, you would make an appointment with a podiatrist.

On the other hand, it's clear you're not trained in anatomy and physiology.

Or other things.

I was going to come in here and write a defense of LCSWs in response to this guest's post. However, I think the guest's writing says more about his or her level of formal education than anything I would have written. So I'll just leave it at that for the time being.

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Posted

I was just assuming that he/she accidentally left out the word "not."

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You can all burn me if you want....

I have been to:

4 Psychologists... some called themselves "Clinical", other just said "Psychologist".

1 was even a Professor of psychology.

In fact, I even dated a psychologist at one time.

3 Psychiatrists:

2 was at a clinic, who diagnosed me as "manic depressive" (my x dragged me out there at the speed of light! )

1 diagnosed me as bipolar, then decided I'm not. (I shot out of there at the speed of light by myself!)

1 hypnotherapist - she was fabulous and really did good for the specific issue I went to her for.

3 Therapists - whatever they called themselves - their rooms were colour coded nicely.

Lots and lots and thousands of money were spent treating "suppressed long term stress and tension"....

The most benefit to me has been an internet discussion board where I can share my feelings, share my problems, talk to a mindless computer monitor, be totally honest to both myself and my monitor, remember things at my own pace, when it suits me, and not have to look some stranger in the eye and see his/her condemnation for the things I have done. I am not restricted to time, I can talk about anything at any time for as long as I want, even in any colour I want.

I unfortunately probably put up a front of a decent woman, conned every one of the above, apart from the two (gay) psychiatrists, where I had to complete questionnaires and they realised and diagnosed me as manic depressive, and my ex dragged me out of there when they talked lithium.

Here I get advice and opinions from people exactly like me, who understand what I say perfectly, who know what goes on in my head, far better than someone who read about it in a book.

These are my thoughts...

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Posted

One thing to keep in mind is that the LPC is a licensing designation with the MINIMUM educational requirement being a Masters degree on Counseling Psych. (or closely related field). One should not assume that an LPC does not have a Ph.D.

For instance, I have a Masters in Counseling Psych. and was licensed as a Professional Conselor prior to obtaining my Ph.D. in clinical Psychology from an APA accredited school. So I have all the academic training that a Psychologist has - I just am not licensed under my Ph.D. In order for me to complete my post doc hours would have required me to shut down my very busy practice that took me years to build. I receive weekly clinical supervision from a Licensed Psychologist on my own and may be able to use those hours towards post doc requirments.

Bottom line is that there are quite a few out there with Ph.D.'s in Clinical Psychology that are licensed as a Professional Counselor - for many different reasons - and while they may lack the post doc training requirements they do have the same educational training as "Psychologists" and can still hold the designation of Dr. so and so..

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Another difference between LPC and LCSW, at least in this state, is that LPCs get to count some or most of their in-school internship hours toward licensure. LCSWs cannot. We have to have 2000+ hours direct work experience, 1000+ direct clinical client contact hours, and 100+ hours of clinical supervision... all POST-grad school before we can even think about sitting for our licensing boards.

It is likely that a masters level social worker working as a therapist has not had as extensive training in therapy as an LPC.

I would argue this is true if and only if the social worker is not licensed. There are lots of MSWs who choose not to get licensed, and these folks may be more likely to have less training in therapy. However, the designation of LCSW (licensed clinical social worker), means 2 years post-graduate work in the field of therapy.

Peace,

Woo

PS- and I totally think the social work lobby is stronger than the LPC lobby, esp. here in Oregon and it sucks ass because I have a great LPC that I have to fight to get my insurance to pay for.

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It is my opinion, as well as experience, that LCSW's are NOT trained in psychotherapy, as their trainnig is primarily in the area of helping individuals with housing, food, etc.

Not true; social workers do consider a client in holistic terms but we don't necessarily focus on practical needs unless it is essential for a client. A simplified example would be if someone was depressed because they were homeless, then the first thing a social worker would do is find emergency accommodation for them. Giving them narrative therapy, CBT etc. won't resolve the fact that they don't have a place to stay, which is the main cause of their depression.

I don't know what sort of social workers you've encountered or have heard of, but our training necessitates learning psychotherapy. That's part of the job description - are you sure they were actually trained social workers? Whether they are good at psychotherapy, however, depends on the individual worker, and you'll find skilled and unskilled practitioners in any profession.

In Australia at least, the job descriptions for a social worker and a psychologist are very similar. The main differences are that a social worker is more equipped to consider any outside environmental concerns on a client while a psychologist can assess and officially diagnose someone.

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For my general bipolar illness, I have seen a number of psychiatrists, psychologists (yes, including a professor of psychology, and a actually, one of psychiatry and Social Work), LCSW, and CPW (not sure about that last set of initials). I have tried several different modalities of therapy. I pretty much hate them all.

Although I will give one of my shrinks credit for one insight that caused a paradigm shift in my view of the world, and it was a positive one.

The two best therapists I ever had: The CSW, who I actually "met" through a crisis hotline, and followed up and saw him for several months until I moved. This was during my first big crisis on my own as an adult (I had had them in college, but food and shelter were a given). He was just very good at redirecting my thought processes so I could get myself back under control somewhat, and take the next steps. He referred me to a reasonable psychiatrist, too, since I had quit going to see mine, who was a freak.

The other was actually a Lutheran Minister, who I saw for PTSD, at a Battered Women's Shelter. She did not have a counseling degree, but was ordained, and had a degree in theology. I am a militant atheist of Jewish descent. She was very pivotal in my life, and I blame her for my current happy marriage, even though the counseling took place about a year before I met my husband. ;)

So my personal experience has been the more credentialed, the more obnoxious, YMMV.

Which is I think the main point to be gathered. The letters after the name aren't as important as whether you relate well to your therapist, and you agree with their treatment modality. I'm not suggesting every Lucy Van Pelt (am I dating myself too much) who hangs out a shingle is qualified, I just think that while there is a minimum level of training necessary to all the counseling professions, their training isn't what is going to determine if they are a match for you, necessarily.

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I also have had various kinds and flavours of therapists, and psycho quacks and psycho dudes, and I also have never had any good results.

The only good results I had, was when I went for hypno therapy. That lady was fabulous, and I am sorry that she retired.

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Posted

Another difference between LPC and LCSW, at least in this state, is that LPCs get to count some or most of their in-school internship hours toward licensure. LCSWs cannot. We have to have 2000+ hours direct work experience, 1000+ direct clinical client contact hours, and 100+ hours of clinical supervision... all POST-grad school before we can even think about sitting for our licensing boards.

It is likely that a masters level social worker working as a therapist has not had as extensive training in therapy as an LPC.

I would argue this is true if and only if the social worker is not licensed. There are lots of MSWs who choose not to get licensed, and these folks may be more likely to have less training in therapy. However, the designation of LCSW (licensed clinical social worker), means 2 years post-graduate work in the field of therapy.

Peace,

Woo

PS- and I totally think the social work lobby is stronger than the LPC lobby, esp. here in Oregon and it sucks ass because I have a great LPC that I have to fight to get my insurance to pay for.

That is not true; at least not in all states. I am a PLPC in MO and I am working towards my post graduate hours. In MO an LPC needs to have 3000 hrs post graduation. In school internships or practicums do not count towards those 3000 hours.

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Posted

There are really some ridiculous statements being made here regarding Clinical Social Workers. It is VERY clear people here do not know what they are talking about.

Licensed Clinical Social Workers LCSW’s are a highly regulated & well trained group of therapist’s who have both Doctorate/Master level training. Not to mention they are the oldest profession in the field. NASW (national association of social workers) provides the ethical standards used by ALL qualified social workers. Key word “qualified”. There have been many problems over the years with people calling themselves social worker’s and have never been trained. This practice is starting to diminish in the field but still exists. It is a very real problem.

Social workers provide more mental health services than all other disciplines combined.

People with serious mental illnesses face numerous challenges that include social stigma, lack of access to best-practice treatment services, and greater likelihood of living in conditions of poverty. Service needs tend to be complex and require highly trained and involved therapist's not sitting in a chair proclaiming labels/diagnosis's with no resolution/plan. BBS (board of behavioral sciences) is the regulatory entity for Licensed Clinical Social Workers in California only. Not all social workers.

For that you need to go the NASW and look at the code of Ethics.

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