Dr. Hardebeck's answers to
Frequently Asked Questions:

Psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors: what’s the difference?
    For the lay consumer, I know there can be some confusion about all of
    the different titles used by mental health practitioners. Below, I have
    tried to define some of the terms and initials.

    One good way around the confusion is to ask your family physician for a
    referral when you need mental health assessment or care.

    In any case, do not be afraid to ask mental health practitioners about
    their qualifications; most of us are used to fielding these types of
    questions. (Back to FAQs)









Advanced Registered
Nurse Practitioner
(A.R.N.P.)
Nurse practitioners sometimes work in the mental health
field, and can prescribe medications.
Chemical Dependency
Professional
(C.D.P)
The state requires specific training for this title. See the
licensing requirements
here.
Clinical
The term "clinical" before or after a title simply indicates
that the person works with people in a clinical setting,
rather than, say, working in a research or academic
setting. No special education or license is required to use
this term.
Counselor
Basically a generic term for anyone who "counsels." No
special education or license is required to use this title.
Doctor of Education
(Ed.D.)
A person with this title has a doctorate degree in
education.
Licensed Marriage and
Family Therapist
(L.M.F.T.)
Must have a master's or doctoral degree and supervised
training. See complete licensing requirements
here.

An "L.M.F.T. Associate" is someone who has completed
their academic degree, but is still working on their training
hours.
Licenced Mental Health
Counselor
(L.M.H.C.)
Must have a master's or doctoral degree and supervised
training. See complete licensing requirements
here.
Licensed Social Worker
(L.C.S.W., L.I.C.S.W.,
or L.A.S.W.)
Social workers sometimes work in the mental health field.
They must have at least a master's degree. There are
two levels of licensing for social workers in Washington
State. You can read the requirements for both levels
here.
Life Coach
A generic term for anyone who gives advice on life's
difficulties or changes. No special education or license is
required to use this title.
Master's Degree
(M.A., M.A.C., M.Ed.,
M.S. or M.S.W.)
A master's degree is designated by the initials M.A.
(Master of Arts) or M.S. (Master of Science). Specialized
master's degrees include a Master of Arts in Counseling
(M.A.C.), a Master's in Education (M.Ed.), and a Master's
in Social Work (M.S.W.).

A person with a master's degree probably has extensive
education and training in mental health issues, unless, of
course, their master's is in an unrelated field. A person
may also have a master's degree, but may not have met
the licensing requirements to be a L.M.F.T., L.M.H.C., or
L.I.C.S.W.
M.F.T.
Marriage and Family Therapist. May mean that they are a
L.M.F.T. or that they are a member of the
A.A.M.F.T. or
the
W.A.M.F.T.
Psychiatrist
(M.D.)
A medical doctor who specializes in mental health, and
can prescribe medications and/or conduct therapy. Must
be a licensed physician.

Typically will be
"board certified" in psychiatry, although
legally, any physician who specializes in mental health
could call themselves a "psychiatrist."
Psychologist
(Ph.D. or Psy.D.)
A doctor of psychology who is licensed by the state to
perform
psychological assessments and conduct therapy.
See complete licensing requirements
here, and read
more detailed information from the state
here.

All psychologists have a doctoral degree (Ph.D. or
Psy.D.), however sometimes a person may have earned
the academic degree, but may not be a "licensed
psychologist" because they have not met the licensing
requirements of the state.
Psychoanalyst
A person who practices psychoanalysis, which is a branch
of psychology. Typically a "psychoanalyst" will have a
Ph.D. or Psy.D., although it may be legally possible to call
oneself a psychoanalyst without specialized education or
training.
Psychotherapist
A person who practices psychotherapy, which is a type of
mental health therapy. Typically a psychotherapist will
have a master's or doctoral degree, although it is legally
possible to call oneself a psychotherapist with no
specialized education or training.
Registered Counselor
A title that was discontinued by Washington State in
2007. The title simply meant that the counselor had
registered with the state, but had no specialized training.
School Psychologist
School psychologists administer some academic and
cognitive assessments, and conduct therapy. However,
they are not licensed psychologists and are not required
to have a doctoral degree. They must have at least a
master's degree. Other requirements can be seen
here.
Therapist
Basically a generic term for anyone who conducts
therapy. No specialized education or license is required to
use this title.
(Back to FAQs)