Often professionals will list their names, followed by the degrees, licenses or titles they have earned. If you are unfamiliar with the abbreviations or the titles, the information is not much use to you.
Even this is only partial information. Degrees from different universities reflect different curricula and different standards, and there are even variations within programs in a single university.
Titles listed as "type of work" do not themselves reflect any specific training or license. Rather, they describe what the person does.
A degree reflects the formal training that a person has had. Ideally, this will be clinically relevant. A license is granted by the Commonwealth to indicate that the person's training and experience are adequate, and may be necessary in order for your health insurance to provide partial payment for treatment. However, having a degree and a license are not proof of ability, and some people with neither can be very helpful. You can also ask friends and other professionals for recommendations and opinions about the therapists listed here. When you call, feel free to ask whether the person's background and training are relevant to treating your issues. At a first appointment, you can decide whether the person seems sympathetic and able to understand you.
Bachelor of Arts. A four year college degree, it typically is not relevant to a person's ability to work as a therapist. It may be listed, with the area of specialization, to show a person's background and interests.
Health Service Provider. This is a special license granted some psychologists in Massachusetts to show that their degree and training are related to clinical work.
Licensed Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor. Massachusetts substance abuse counselors are regulated by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. There are multiple levels of credentialing. A Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor I (LADC I) has education at the graduate level while a Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor II (LADC II) may or may not have a college degree.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Clincians who have completed a Master's of Social Work Degree, passed the ASWB National Master Social Work Exam and can assume non-clinical roles, or work in clinical roles that are supervised by an LICSW.
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. Clinicians who have earned a Master's Degree in Social Work, passed the ASWB National Master Social Work Exam, completed three years (a minimum of 3,000 post degree hours) of full time supervised clinical work, and passed the ASWB National Clinical Social Work Exam. LICSWs are able to work clinically and independently without supervision by other professionals.
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Clinicians who have completed a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy or related field, have accrued 3,360 hours of supervised post-master’s work in the field, and passed the Examination in Marital and Family Therapy.
Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Clinicians who have completed a Master's Degree in Mental Health Counseling or related field, have accrued 3,360 hours of supervised post-master’s work in the mental health counseling field, and passed the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination.
Master of Arts. This typically represents one or two years of graduate work following a Bachelor’s degree. While it generally demonstrates academic success and perseverance, it says nothing about a person’s ability to work as a psychotherapist. Unless specified, the degree could be in any field whatever, including astronomy, music, mathematics, etc. Even a more specific degree probably doesn’t indicate training in psychotherapy. Typically, a master of arts in psychology is not a clinical degree and does not include an internship or psychotherapy supervision. It may or may not be in a clinically related field of psychology [eg: animal learning]. A master of arts in counseling or counseling psychology may include some clinically related study but is typically designed to prepare a person for work in a school setting.
Master of Social Work. This is typically a two-year advanced degree offered by a school of social work. It involves course work and a clinical internship, and makes the person eligible for licensure as a CSW, LCSW or LICSW, depending on subsequent training and experience.
Doctor of Philosophy. This is the highest regular academic degree in many fields of study. Requirements typically include 4-7 years of study beyond a bachelor's degree, original research and a dissertation that reports on the research. A PhD is one sign of perseverence, academic excellence and creativity in the field in which it was earned. Doctorates can be earned in a variety of academic fields, only a few of which are relevant to psychotherapy and directly qualify the person for a professional license as a psychotherapist.
Doctor of Psychology. It is a professional degree directed toward clinical work, and is directed toward licensure as a psychologist and HSP. Where a PhD has a research and dissertation requirement for completion, a PsyD has greater focus on a clinical internship.
Type of Work
A psychiatrist is a licensed medical doctor (MD) who has completed medical school and additional training (residency) specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. Psychiatrists can be board certified to provide treatment to children, adolescents, and/or adults. Psychiatrists are able to prescribe and monitor psychotropic medications when appropriate.
Type of Work
An alternative designation to "analyst", typically indicating use of Freudian theory and/or techniques. A psychoanalyst may work intensively with a patient, using frequent sessions, asking the patient to lie on a couch, or otherwise encouraging the patient to look inward for hidden or lost thoughts and memories that may be sources of current distress. "Psychoanalyst" is not protected by license in Massachusetts, and has no specific implications for training or experience.
Type of Work
When used as a title, this typically refers to a person with a doctorate (PhD) in psychology. In a private practice setting, the person must be licensed as a psychologist. In an academic setting, a license is not needed, and the title may be used by professionals whose degree doesn't imply clinical skills.