MFT, LCSW, PsyD, PhD - what does it mean when looking for a therapist? Sure, a set of letters after a name lends confidence to anyone who is doing research on potential therapist options, but navigating the various acronyms can make an already-scary process feel down right overwhelming. Finding the right mental health care professional is easier when you understand what these letters mean when it comes to their licensing and credentials. Above all, it’s essential that you find someone that you feel comfortable with - their training is only the beginning.
First of all, it’s important to remember that all these accreditations serve an important purpose. Going to see a therapist is very different than talking to a friend -- the education a therapist receives allows him or her to better engage with clients to understand their full perspectives and pull appropriate tools to address those needs and create lasting change.
A rigorous licensing process ensures practitioners have the appropriate training to best serve your needs. Plus, it’s important to know that this (or any other) medical professional has been properly evaluated and adheres to your state’s regulations in the field in terms of competency, qualifications, ethics, and business practices.
Unfortunately, that’s where things get complicated. The National Alliance on Mental Health explains that many types of mental health care professionals can help you achieve your therapy goals. They operate under a variety of job titles—including counselor, clinician, therapist or something else—based on the treatment setting. And variations exist state-by-state (the points below are most relevant for California, where reflect is headquartered).
To practice, clinicians must hold a Master’s degree (Master of Science or Master of the Arts) or Doctorate (PhD, PsyD) in a mental health-related field such as psychology, counseling psychology, marriage or family therapy, among others.
Here, the licensure and certification designations can include a variety of additional acronyms to indicate specifics which can vary by specialty and state. Examples of licensure include: LPCC Licensed Professional Counselor, LMFT Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and LCADAC, Licensed Clinical Alcohol & Drug Abuse Counselor.
The most common in California are Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT), Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Psychologist (PsyD or PhD), and Psychiatrist (MD).
Confused? We’re here to help, so let’s take a closer look at some of the most common acronyms and what they mean.
If you’ve made the decision to look into therapy, you might be asking yourself, “where do I even begin?” Well, you’re not alone. The process of finding the right therapist and the right therapeutic approach can feel overwhelming. In fact, you may begin not knowing that the therapeutic approach will impact the progress you make in therapy. Why? Mental health professionals operate from a variety of techniques (and styles), and it’s important to explore the systems of treatment as you begin the task of selecting a therapist. Let’s take a deeper look at the therapeutic approaches most commonly used so that you can make an informed decision.
Start the process by asking yourself what you are expecting from therapy. Would you prefer an analytical process, in which you’ll learn techniques for changing behaviors, or simply be able to talk freely with gentle guidance and acceptance? Therapy is a highly personal process, and naturally, you’ll want a therapist that’s most effective for you.
Many therapists will blend various therapeutic techniques to customize an approach that works for each client. Your therapy should feel comfortable to you - understanding how different therapies operate will help you determine how to meet those needs.
As the conversation continues to grow around the importance and availability of quality mental health resources, many strides have already been taken to raise awareness by corporations and community members alike. May is Mental Health Month, and in fact, this year marks the 70th anniversary of this vital movement. That’s quite a milestone - one that is well worth the highlight!
We want to take a moment to honor all of the hard work and dedication that has taken place over the decades and a few ways to make the most of Mental Health Month.
First began in 1949, Mental Health America and its affiliates developed the observance of ‘May is Mental Health Month’ by reaching millions of people through local events, screenings, and the media. The point? To spread the word that mental health is something that everyone should care about. And that is every bit as important today as it was seventy years ago.
Each year, Mental Health America assigns a theme to unify the movement and hone in on specific aspects of the cause. This year’s theme is kind of a ‘part two’ that follows the 2018 focus on #4Mind4Body. Psychology Today describes #4Mind4Body 2018 as an emphasis on the fact that “health is an all-encompassing matter and we must take care care of our minds just as much as we take care of our bodies.”
For 2019, the #4Mind4Body campaign has been expanded even further to include the topics of support animals, spirituality, humor, work/life balance, recreation and social connections for enhancing mental health and well-being.
Let’s face it - life can get very overwhelming at times. Whether there’s been a sudden loss, new realities, unresolved issues or pressure of any kind, the balancing act between managing our emotional world along with our work/life balance can be challenging to say the least. These days, it can definitely feel like we are getting pulled in a thousand directions at once. One false move, and the whole house of cards comes down. The Bay Area presents its own issues within the areas of career, finances and work/life balance - it’s not uncommon to feel like you’re walking on a tightrope everyday.
That struggle between emotional wellness and work/life balance may benefit from some professional help. Much like we need assistance with our taxes, we can also reach out to professionals who will support our desire for a healthy and happy life. Professional therapists bridge the gap between, “can I do this?” and “here’s our plan.” Whether you suspect an underlying mental illness or simply need an outside perspective to talk it out, therapy can benefit you in many ways.
According to Forbes, there are some pretty intriguing reasons to give talk therapy a try. The number one reason? Therapy has lasting benefits. This is because a therapist helps people work through the issues and develop tools to deal with future problems. While just about everyone can benefit, recent studies found that 60% of adults with mental health concerns did not receive mental health services in the previous year.
Consider bringing a therapist into your support system and you’ll find that it is a fantastic opportunity to level up your professional game and improve your personal life. It can help you handle emotions from problems or stressors, even if they are not dramatically traumatic or life-altering. Therapy can deliver results relatively quickly; the American Psychological Association reports that many patients felt improvement within two weeks of talk therapy. 75% of the clients who work with reflect will gain new insights about their lives within the first four sessions.
Here’s a closer look at four great reasons to put “find a therapist” on today’s to-do list.
Helpful tips for managing stress, incorporating mindfulness, and promoting a healthy lifestyle.