Therapist Credentials

Ever wonder what all the letters after a therapist’s name mean? Here is some information about what the most common of these are. Some designate graduate degrees (academic training) and others indicate licensure/certification by professional or governmental bodies.

MSW is a Masters Degree in Social Work. LICSW designates a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker who can operate a private psychotherapy practice. LSWAIC is a newer social worker working under supervision toward full licensure.

MA refers to a Master’s degree in Counseling or Psychology. LMHC stands for Licensed Mental Health Counselor and indicates that this master’s level therapist is Washington State licensed. LMHCA is a newer therapist working under supervision toward full licensure.

PhD and PsyD designate doctoral degrees in clinical or counseling psychology. Providers with these degrees are psychologists trained in therapy and assessment. These professionals are licensed by the state.

A psychiatrist (MD) is a medical doctor specializing in mental health care. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication and some also offer psychotherapy.

ARNP stands for Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner and is advanced level training. Some ARNPs specialize in mental health care; in the State of Washington, ARNPs can work in private practice and prescribe medication.

NCC designates national certification as a counselor.

MFT indicates master’s level training as a Marriage and Family Therapist; LMFT indicates licensure. LMFTA is a newer therapist working under supervision toward full licensure.

CCDC, NCAC, or MAC denotes being a Certified Chemical Dependency Counselor; MAC is a Master Addiction Counselor.

A Certified Counselor may or may not have a graduate degree but is authorized to provide counseling, guidance and psycho-education independently to higher functioning clients.