Woman researches psychological degrees on laptop computer

Understanding Psychological Degrees (Ph.D. to LPC and More)

Congratulations! You decided you would benefit from therapy. In and of itself, this is no easy feat, which requires a great deal of self-reflection and curiosity into your own mind.

You google “therapists near you” and a bunch of letters and degrees come up: MD, Ph.D., PsyD, LPC, LCSW…the list goes on. Truly, it is ridiculous that a person outside of the field of psychology is expected to know what each of these degrees and modalities mean without several hours of research. So here are some short cuts to help you.

Ph.D.: This is a doctorate degree. Most therapists will have this degree in clinical or counseling psychology if they are a practicing clinician. What this means is that they went to school for approximately 5-7 years, studied both research and clinical practice, wrote a dissertation, and participated in a number of clinical rotations to prepare them for graduation and licensing. This person should not only have knowledge of the current field of practicing clinical psychology, but also the current research in the field and how to interpret and implement that work, for example through a variety of evidence-based practices.  

MD: This is also a doctorate degree, but also a physician. This person went to medical school. Most MDs in the mental health field are psychiatrists, and are allowed to prescribe psychotropic medication which may or may not be helpful in supplementing therapy. There are some psychiatrists who also do therapy, but this is not necessarily the norm. Most psychiatrists hold shorter appointments than that of a psychologist, and may meet with you less frequently.

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