Degrees and Titles

Academic Degrees

Doctor of philosophy. This academic degree is earned in four to seven years.

Doctor of psychology. The Psy.D focuses on therapy and counseling rather than research.

M.A. (or M.S., M.C.)
A master of arts, master of science, or master of counseling can be earned in counseling, psychology or related fields. It usually requires two years of post-collegiate study.

Psychiatrists are medical doctors, who, after completing medical school, receive an additional four years of clinical training in mental health specialties.

Master of social work. A social worker works with an individual in the context of the wider community. The MSW typically requires two to four years of study.

Doctor of education. The M.Ed. is a master’s level degree in education that typically takes two years to earn. A total of four years of study is usually necessary to receive an Ed.D.

Professional Licenses

L.C.S.W. (or A.C.S.W., L.C.S., L.I.C.S.W., C.S.W.)
The licensed clinical social worker has a graduate academic degree, has completed supervised clinical work experience and has passed a national- or state-certified licensing exam.

L.M.F.T. (or M.F.C.C.)
The licensed marriage and family therapist has a graduate academic degree, clinical work experience and has passed a state-certified licensing exam. LMFTs are required to complete 1,000 hours of individual or family therapy with 100 hours of supervision.

L.P. (or NCPsyA)
The licensed psychoanalyst has obtained his license from the state department of education. Recipients must have a master’s degree or higher, and completed psychoanalytic study in a program deemed qualified by the state DOE.

L.P.C. (or L.C.P.C., L.M.H.C., D.A.C., M.F.C.C.)
Licensed professional counselor or licensed mental health counselor. A licensing qualification is granted to those who have a graduate academic degree, clinical work experience and have passed a state-certified licensing examination.

Additional Credentials You May Find

A.P.R.N. (or A.P.N., A.R.N.P.P., M.H.N.)
Advanced practice registered nurses (A.P.R.N.) have a master’s degree in psychiatric-mental health nursing. These nurses are eligible to be licensed as therapists.

Registered art therapist. Art therapists are trained in both art and therapy and hold a master’s degree in art therapy or a related field. Art therapists work with individuals, couples, families or groups.

The doctor of ministry is an advanced professional degree for those in the practice of ministry. It differs from a Ph.D. in that its focus is on competence in the practice of ministry rather than on advanced academic research.

Board certified diplomate. This board certification is granted to practitioners—whether they are social workers, counselors, psychologists, among other mental health professionals. These individuals have demonstrated a high level of competency and experience in their field.

Board certification by the American Board of Professional Psychology (A.B.P.P.). Certification assures that specialists have successfully completed the educational, training, and experience requirements, including an examination designed to assess competency.

The Nationally Certified Counselor is the certification issued by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC), an independent organization that grew out of the American Counseling Association (ACA).



  1. I checked Manchester UK YELLOW pAGES. In the sections on Counsellors and Hypnotherapsts, there are almost as many qualifications as there are practioners.

    The HSC is trying to regulate this field and its long overdue.

    I know over the years there have been at least three therapist in the area, two with outright fake letters after their name.

  2. ps one with some additions to their real qualification.

  3. My therapist had fake qualifications, PsD (Doctor of Psychology) froma US Bible College. There are far too many qualfications for the public to protect themselves.

    At least two therapists in my area have also used fake qualifications, its too easy.

  4. In the UK you can check if a therapist is qualified by going to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP)…. if a therapist is a member of the organisation they will be in the BACP directory. It is a good place to start in the UK if you are searching for a therapist.

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