Thursday, June 4, 2009

Psychology Alphabet

I don't know why each trade talks alphabet. It is like they assume the rest of us just know. For those of you who are new in the adoption world here is a break down of what the different terms and initials mean:

PhD: Mean they have a doctorate degree

Psychologist: Has PhD in Psychology and can diagnose, in Nebraska they supervise all mental health people who are not PhDs.

LCSW: Licensed Clinical Social Worker - In Nebraska they can do mental health counseling as well if licensed

LMHP: Licensed Mental Health Practitioner- Has a masters degree in social work or counseling, has a state license to practice mental health counseling. They sometimes have the name of their degree following. They sometimes shorten those to MS or MC depending on if it is social work or counseling.

PLMHP: Has completed their degree but has a Provisional license while they get in enough hours for their state and pass the state licensing exam.

LIMHP: Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner - Has the same as an LMHP but have the ability to diagnose, therefore can work independently of a psychologist

Counselor- technically the same as a therapist but the term is often used for school counselors or pastoral counseling which depending on the license may not include mental health counseling.

Therapist-In Nebraska is an LMHP. Works with people to work through issues that are interfering with their lives and sense of well being. Maybe a wide range from marital issues to serious mental health issues. Some specialize. This term is interchangeable with psychotherapist.

Psychiatrist- Is an actual medical doctor who prescribes psychiatric medications. Here they generally do very little, if any counseling.

Occupational therapist - help people who have conditions that are mentally, physically, developmentally, or emotionally disabling improve their ability to perform tasks in their daily living and working environments. They also help them develop, recover, or maintain daily living and work skills. This would include Sensory Integration Dysfunction.

Attachment Therapist - LMHP or Psychologist who has received training in attachment & trauma.

I hope that helps! Starting out it was all really confusing to me. Finding the right professional for your family is a lot of work but I feel it is worth it in the long run. Have a healing day!


Barbara said...

Where does the masters prepared Family Psych Nurse Practitioner fit into your list?

Here in Wisconsin they are independent providers of health care and have prescriptive authority.

Brenda said...

Here is info I found on that:

"The Family Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner specialty prepares advanced practice nurses to provide primary mental health care including the diagnosis of mental illness, medication management, family therapy, group therapy, brief psychotherapy, play therapy, social skills training, and mental health promotion. After completing the Masters program, students will be eligible to sit for national certification as a Family Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner."

marythemom said...

Here in Texas we have a couple more.

LMSSW - has a Masters in Social Work and has a license that requires them to meet continuing education requirements.

LSW - has a bachelors in Social Work and a license.

LMSSW-ACP - has studied under another accredited psychologist or ACP and can provide therapy independently (not under supervision of a psychologist or psychiatrist).

Mary in TX
used to be an LMSSW but let my license lapse

Brenda said...


Once your license has lapsed what would you have to do to have a new one?

marythemom said...


I would have to retake the exam (was about $100 when I took it). The exam was HARD! Pretty much every theory and developmental stage we'd ever been taught. I remember thinking I NEVER want to take that again.

When I burned out of SW after only 1 1/2 years I decided to keep my license on an inactive status (pay $15 a year, and no continuing education credits needed). I kept it for over 10 years, and then missed the payment. Of course that was the year when we'd finished our adoptions and I was actually thinking about returning to SW. *sigh*

Mary in Texas

Christine said...

Thanks for the run down. :)