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Psychologist, Psychiatrist, NP, LCSW, LPC: What's the difference?!?

July 31, 2016

 

There are several specialties within Behavioral Healthcare that it quite often gets confusing (even for me sometimes!)

 

This blog is meant to clear the confusion, no guarantees as to how long you will remember this information after you are done reading it ;).

 

A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who completed a residency in psychiatry. A lot of the time these types of providers focus on providing only medication (that is a shifting culture!). A PMHNP (Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner) is also a specialist who can prescribe medications. These professionals are nurses with a Master's of Science Degree in Nursing and have passed licensing examinations. Some PMHNP also hold doctorate degrees. I know a few psychiatrists who actually choose to focus their work on providing therapy and integrated care similar to the way we do here at Brain Body Wellness and Biofeedback, PLLC. 

 

A psychologist holds a doctorate degree in psychology (99% of the time, there are a few exceptions who have been grandfathered into the title with a Master's degree, but we won't get into that here!). Psychologists are trained in psychological assessment in addition to evidenced based treatments for psychological disorders. Psychologists are taught about psychiatric medications; however, they are NOT able to prescribe psychotropic medications. This is my specialty. 

 

LCSW and LPC degrees (Liscensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Professional Counselor, respectively) are master level therapists. LCSW therapists tend to take more of a systems approach to treatment, focusing on the social network of a patient. They must have a Master's degree in social work. LPC's have less stringent guidelines on what their master's degree must be in; however they are required to pass a licensing exam to hold this title. LCSW and LPC programs tend to focus on diagnosis and treatment with less emphasis on psychological assessment. 

 

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