What’s the DIFFERENCE? Choosing YOUR Mental Health Professional | Kati Morton


Psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, counselor, licensed counselor, LCSW, LMFT! Today we’re going to talk about all the different types of mental health professionals out there. What does it mean and what kind of help can they offer? *intro music* I tried to put these in an order that kind of makes sense, where we go from potentially least amount of school and lowest cost, up to the potentially most amount of school and highest cost and I hope that kind of makes sense as I roll through these and I’m gonna reference my notes because I actually had to do a surprising amount of research to figure this out for you so let’s get into it! The first mental health professional I want to talk about are counselors. Someone can call themselves a counselor by getting a four-year degree from a college and then getting trained in whatever area they work in. A counselor can work in a treatment facility and be like an addiction counselor, recovery counselor or they can work in a school and be a school counselor. Now a counselor, such as this, isn’t someone who can offer a diagnosis, or would put together a treatment plan for you. These are usually people that kind of guide and support you along the way and get you into the proper help that you really need. So these can often be the first person you have access to and are oftentimes free through different programs, whether it be a school or addiction treatment or anything like that. The next mental health professional I’m going to talk about are licensed professional counselors, or LPCs. That’s the acronym still put at the end of their name, telling you what their licensure is. Now I had to look up a lot about licensed professional counselors because I didn’t really know that much about it and I don’t have any colleagues that I interact with who have this. But from my research it sounds like they do the exact same thing that I did. They get a four-year degree in psychology from undergraduate program, then they go on to get their masters, two years, then they gather 3,000 hours and they call them 3000 clinical hours, meaning I’m sitting down with a client and I’m talking or I’m doing group therapy, some kind of therapeutic hours and then they take a licensing exam. Their licensing exam is called the “National Counselor Examination” or NCE, and then they’re licensed, and they can practice just like I do. Asked what licensed professional counselors do and how it can feel is a client, in truth, and all the reading that I did, it sounds very similar to what a therapist does, to what I do. They can offer diagnoses, offer treatment to you, they create treatment plans, they can let you know we need a higher level of care, they can do behavioral techniques. It sounds like they pretty much do the very same thing. The only thing that I found a little different from literature about what I do is that with licensed professional counseling, they talked a lot about addiction and so I wonder if that’s something that maybe they’re more specialized in or something they have more emphasis on? So I guess I need to do even more research to find that out, but that’s really the only difference. The next mental health professional that I want to talk about is myself! An LMFT. What does that stand for you might wonder? It’s a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Now for many of you who’ve been watching me for a long time you’ve heard this story but what I did to become a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist is, I got a four-year degree in psychology from Pepperdine University, and then went back to Pepperdine, cause I couldn’t get enough and got a master’s. So two more years and got my masters in clinical psychology with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy. Then I got out, I gathered 3000 clinical hours and then I studied to take my licensing exam and here I am! Just, you know, I don’t know, like, 12 short years later. As for what I can do as a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, I can diagnose and I can treat a wide variety of mental illnesses, I can put together treatment plans, I work in conjunction with hospitals and inpatient wards and pretty much what it is, is you come into my office, we talk about things I offer some tips and tricks and tools and you use utilize those in your regular everyday life and we work through things. They like to think of an MFT as a person in relationship model. And that would kind of make more sense as we go through the next few types of mental health professionals, but I work a lot with relationships. Relations with yourself, relationships with others, and improving those. The next mental health professional that I want to talk about, are licensed Clinical Social Workers or LCSWs. And that’s the acronym that you’ll see at the end of their names. Now licensed Clinical Social Workers have been around the longest. They were the first. That was like the first program available for people who wanted to offer up therapy and just like I did, just like the licensed professional counselors do, they go through four years of undergrad education to a master’s degree in clinical social work, they gather 3000 clinical hours and they study and take licensing exam. Now because I have a lot of friends and colleagues who are LCSWs, I know firsthand that the testing is very similar and we could actually study together and we all passed! So to me, as a client, if you went in to see an LMFT or an LCSW or even an LPC, I don’t really think you’d feel any different. As always the most important component in therapy is that you actually like the therapist and you feel connected to them. You feel like you can tell them anything. And I think that that is really what we need to focus on rather than what particular degree they received. Now social workers were created out of a need. Out of the hospital setting. That’s really where they came from and so I like to think of the model that they work within is person in environment. So a lot of social workers, like my friend Rocio, who has been on the channel, she goes out into the field and go to people’s houses and makes sure that they have the programs and things set up for them so they can get to and from work or group or whatever it is that they’re needing in life. She makes sure that their whole environment is set up to be therapeutic and helpful for them. The next mental health professional that I want to talk about, are psychologists. Now a psychologist, unlike LCSWs, LMFTs and LPCs, have not only a four-year undergraduate degree, but then a four-year doctorate program. These are doctors! You call them, you know, like Dr. Alexa Altman. She’s a psychologist she got four more years after her four year undergrad, unlike me who did two years. But similar to LCSWs and LMFTs and LPC’s they also finish their four-year doctorate program and they gather clinical hours, they gather 3,000 clinical hours and then they sit for their licensing exams. Now I don’t know, I haven’t talked to Alexa about what the licensing exam really looks like, because she took a while ago as well, but I would guess that it is very similar, however, people who have a Doctorate can, this is the one big difference, they can focus on research. They don’t have to be clinical and that is the difference between of PhD potentially and a PSYD, and that’s why a PSYD was created because the clinical doctorate program. Now that doesn’t mean that someone with a PhD couldn’t have done a clinical emphasis and have gathered clinical hours and become licensed, that’s just why there are those two options. For those of us in school we can kind of choose early on whether we want to focus on potentially research-based, or we want to focus more on clinical treatment, one-on-one, person-to-person. Due to the fact that psychologists kind of come out of the research realm, that’s where it was kind of born out of, a lot of them do much of the testing and assessment that I refer my clients out for. Now that doesn’t mean that I can’t do it as well but I have to go through these certain trainings and I just think that maybe it’s because it’s born out of research, that a lot of psychologists are interested in testing and assessment. But other than that, just like I said before, as a client coming to see a psychologist or an LCSW, LMFT, LPC, it won’t feel any different. Just like Alexa, she works out of her office, one-on-one, with clients just like I do, where you come in and you talk to put a treatment plan together and we work towards our goals. The only big differentiation between any of these is honestly, specialties. What are they trained in? What do they work with the most? What do they understand the most? And as a client trying to find the proper fit, I think those are the questions that you really need to be asking. What are you specializing in? Have you worked in an inpatient ward with that particular issue? What is your training like? Did you do CEUs in these? And CEUs are ‘Continuing Education Units’ that we all,, LPCs, all the people I’ve talked about are required to do, every two years, are responsible for 36 hours. So I would just ask for more information on their specialties so that you can make sure you’re getting a treatment that you need and deserve. The last mental health professional I want to talk about are psychiatrists! You guys remember Barry. He came on. We sat in his office, we talked about medication and all of those things because Barry is a psychiatrist. He is a medical doctor. He went to medical school and that’s really what differentiates them from all of the other mental health professionals. He not only got his four-year undergraduate degree. He did years of medical school, two years of residency and then went on to, you know, take his boards and all the other things that come along with being a medical doctor and so just like we call psychologist doctors because they have their doctorate we call psychiatrists doctors. As to what psychiatrists can do, they can offer therapy and mostly they prescribe medication. Back-in-the-day, psychiatrists used to do hour-long sessions where they would offer therapy just like I do, just like LCSWs and psychologists do and then they would prescribe medication as needed. However, due to the way that our system kind of works, and insurance, you know, wanting to pay them less and less for less and less time, most psychiatrists, nowadays, spend anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes with you doing what we call “med checks.” They want to meet with you, they want to see how your side effects are, what you’re feeling, if you’re improving if you have anything going on, everything like that and it’s mainly focused around how the medication is helping or not helping you. They can also do a lot of research. Many psychiatrists don’t actually do clinical work where they see clients. A lot of them will be in labs and running studies. I’ve heard from many of you that when you first went to see a psychiatrist they often aren’t as warm and fuzzy as therapists and I think that’s really because, first, they’re pressed for time. If they are seeing someone every 15-30 minutes, I don’t even know how they manage their schedules. But also it comes out of the medical model where they do a lot of research and they do a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff and they read more on medication and not so much on clinical, you know, interaction or bedside manner. But there are a ton of wonderful psychiatrist out there and there are some that don’t do any clinical work at all and do only research. And the greatest thing is that I know a lot of wonderful psychiatrists. And they work with me on many clients that we share and they are all part of your treatment team, especially if you are changing medications, or going through any kind of side effects, they’re the one I’m gonna send you to you and the one I’m going to talk to make sure that you’re going to help you want. I hope you found that helpful, I know we use a lot of different acronyms and there are a ton of different mental health professionals and I hope that just kind of helps you better understand what they’ve done in school, what their specialties can be and how they can best help you. And as always know that you don’t have to be at the end of your rope to see a therapist. I see a therapist and mainly I do it because I need to vent, and I need someone to talk to and I need an outside perspective and I think getting into therapy sooner rather than later can save us all a lot of pain and hurt. I find that by going in early and before I feel really bad, I end up feeling better much more quickly and it’s easier to kind of nip it in the bud. Ideally I would love all of you to be able to have a therapist on board, a psychiatrist, as well as your general practitioner, your regular medical doctor, because that way we have all bases covered, right? We have mental health, physical health, and the pharmacological stuff that can go on with different medications they can put you on. I know that not all of you have the ability or the resources to do that and so a very slimmed down version of what a treatment could look like could be seeing your school counselor, or recovery counselor, that comes at a very low cost to you, and seeing psychiatrist, that hopefully your insurance will cover and that can be enough to get us through. But know that you need more support there’s no shame in asking for it. People who get into this field, any kind of mental health professional, do it because we want to help people. And want to be there for you. We want to help understand what’s going on and give you the treatment that you need and deserve. I love you all! If you’re new, click here to subscribe and I will see you all next time. Bye!

100 thoughts on “What’s the DIFFERENCE? Choosing YOUR Mental Health Professional | Kati Morton

  1. Hi there do you know what a licensed independent social worker is LISW? NM doesn't offer LCSW licensing. What's the difference between the two?

  2. This really helped. I already knew I wanted to work in the therapy branch of psychology but this helped me understand better. Aiming for LCP (:

  3. I currently am about to start my Bachelor's of science in clinical psychology and then my MA in social work so I can get licensed as a LCSW. My only worry is that the MA in social work versus the MA in counseling might not prepare me as well to be a counselor, however I know I want to be an LCSW for my own personal reasons. Any advice?

  4. I actually have something in my area not sure if it’s nation wide but it’s call comprehend. I see a therapist and a psychiatrist. Both are wonderful.
    They’ve both been there when I felt no one else would be. Wonderful wonderful people!

  5. This was the most helpful video! Thank you for breaking this down because it is so confusing. You did not mention a Psycho Therapist. Is that a true professional title?

  6. I've been researching recently to become a psychologist/therapist. I finish school at the end of this year. I'm so scared what if im like 45 by the time i finish the masters or uni!! ;(

  7. So, I know this is an older video, but I am currently getting my Master's MFT with a concentration in LPCC ( liscensed professional clinical counseling) in California. So essentially there is no difference in what both areas do and serve the community, however clinical counselors can't treat youth or children. And another major difference is where we can treat. My MFT liscense will only be valid in California, whereas my LPCC liscense is nation wide. That's why it's good to have both. If I ever leave California, I can rely on my LPCC Liscense until I pass the state exam for a MFT liscense. Hope this helps!

  8. Do you know how QMHPs work? I think every state is different. But I'm currently trying to figure out how to be licensed as a Qualified Mental Health Professional in the state of Virginia.

  9. I want to go to college for mental health and addictions counselling and social work, then work in a treatment facility.

  10. I just finished my undergrad and I want to be a counselor. I have seven children and I am live in area that is in high demand for therapists. My goal is to obtain my Doctorate in Psychology but I must also keep a good balance with my family. Can I get my Masters and 3000 hours and become licensed and later go back to college for my Doctorate? What are some do's or don'ts for this pathway. Will I have to obtain another 3000 hours? I have so many questions and thank you for clearing some of them up with this Video.

  11. I have a question… Can a psychiatrist offer a therapy which is similar to psychology's without prescribing medicines?

  12. I wish I could have a doctor that did therapy and meds. It’s so annoying to have to see a psychiatrist for 15 mins and they have no idea what’s going on with me. How is that productive! Also what about psychiatric nurse practitioners

  13. This video was very helpful for me to know the different therapist and what doctors from Psychology background do from the USA.

  14. Thank you so much for this!!! I've been thinking about my profession for a while now and just recently I decided on becoming a therapist but, all the information out there confused the ton out of me. Thank you so much for breaking everything down. A LMFT is exactly what I want to do xoxo

  15. When I was younger I wanted to be a doctor because I wanted to help people, now I want to be a psychologist because I want to help people. It's come full circle.

  16. Is it possible to work towards those clinical hours while also getting my masters? or is a masters degree like a prerequisite to getting those hours

  17. I absolutely loved this video! I've been really interested in going to college for psychology but I wasn't sure what specific area I should specialize in, and this video helped me out so much! At the moment I think I will go and be a psychologist! I love your videos so much and they teach me a lot. So grateful to have people like you on YouTube to educate and share your knowledge!! Thank you!❤️

  18. I had a Psychologist who talked alot about herself and compared me to her daughter all the time. I now go to a someone in school she is so much better and no transference lol

  19. Well im in with all kinda professions… im really lovin how its goin im 15 dont go on my age but trust learning little and improving your skill with every profesion intrestes you and u learn it … is AMAZING when u know every little pieces of pie lol! Practice makes man perfect im here to improve therpist skills

  20. I'm planning on studying counselling psychology but have no background in psychology as I did not study it in my undergrad.
    Does that pose as a problem in pursuing counselling psych and are there any limitations of the same?

  21. The acronyms really vary greatly by state. Take DC for example. They have one of the only LICSW (Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker). Some careers (mostly community-based) have LMHP (Licensed Mental Health Professional) which just means you have a clinical license in a mental health field (LCSW, LCPC, etc) vs QMHP (qualified) which means you qualify with either a lower non-clinical license (LSW, LPC) or a combination of degree and experience hours . Don't get too hung up on the acronyms people and do your research before selecting your path. (:

  22. Hi Kati, my school counselor told me that I don't have to go to a psychiatrist because I'm not "emotionally" unstable. Well, I have a trouble with my personalities. I'm a different person each week like I can be psychopathic, very narsisstic, shy, sassy, depressed, childish…I don't know there's too many. It's very confusing….and if I meet a new person with a unique personality that I've never seen before, my body instantly adapts into that personality and copies it. I become a new person and at the end of the day when I'm about to sleep, I will notice how different am I on that day. So…do I actually need to go to a psychiatrist?

  23. Yeah, my school didn't have a counselor…. and I probably wouldn't have seen them anyway, even if they did.

  24. Hi Kati,
    There’s also LMHC, licensed mental health counselors. It pretty much fits your description of LPC.
    I’m currently training in mental health counseling in grad school!

  25. I am finding mental health care to be really hard to obtain and it costs a lot. Start making some progress with a therapist and they decide to retire or they make some sort of career change etc etc. So you end up starting all over again and never end up getting anywhere. I get advice like don't think that way. I paid money for this?

  26. I want to be a clinical psychologist. So basically we do 4 years in college right? And 4 years in a doctor program? And while were in the program do we collect our hours in the program or after the program?

  27. I’m so thankful for this video!!! Love the shirt too!!!! I was wondering if getting my masters in clinical psychology but then i saw my university offers counseling as well so I got confused but they both will lead me to the path that I want! Thanks!!!!!!!

  28. I did four years graduation in Psychology and also did two years master with psychology now which type of profession I can choose?

  29. Whats the best mental help professional to get help and talk to for ADHD patients? I need immediat help and my father has contacted other professionals in mental help but its either a machine or a voice box telling him to leave a voice mail and one tiim ehe got a person on the phone but it wasnt the actual doctor. So how do I find the right help and how can I get help immediately?

  30. I wanna be a psychiatrist. even tho I'm still 11, I'm working really hard in 5th grade right now and it's paying off.

  31. Thank you!! Usually I've felt pretty lost when trying to search for help, but this definitely clarifies the field

  32. Whaaat?! I’ve been watching your videos for years and had no idea you went to Pepperdine. I also got my BA in Psych at Pepperdine, looking at grad schools now!

  33. i really want to be a psychiatrist but i want to do more therapy sessions w my clients. As a psychiatrist, can i do therapy as well?

  34. I have a bachelors in psychology and would like to continue my education by pursing my masters. I would like to become a licensed professional counselor but also have to option to work my way up to a Doctorate.
    I love listening to people and helping people navigate life etc. I’ve thought of health/life coaching but I want to do MORE.
    I’m interested in mental health counseling at TTU!
    I have a friend who says LMFT is better than LPC. So I’m confused!!!!

  35. I have so many questions. I am about to be a jr in highschool and still have almost no idea what I want to do or what would best fit me. Recently, I've been thinking about something in the psychology field. I definitely want to do something 1 on 1 with someone. I find DID so interesting and really want to learn more. What should i be for that? my parents told me that they would never let me major in psychology. Do you have any tips or do you have any videos about how to find a job? Or if you or someone you know was in a similar situation as me, how they convinced their parents that majoring in psychology isnt as bad as they may think? My parents think that if that's what I majored in I wouldnt be able to find work.

  36. But how the frick do you actually choose someone? How do you find out what people specialize in, do you just call 1000 offices? Ugh

  37. Love the way she said "Twelve short years laterrr" Lmao I'm just now starting and it seems like a lot but I have a passion for helping others so I'm excited about it all. Can't wait to work in this field.

  38. I am planning on getting my associate degree of psychology soon. Can wait to register for classes next month.

  39. If LPC can do the same work as an MFT, then why do we have LPCs? If LPCs and MFTs do the same work as LCSW then why do we have LPCs and MFTs? If LCSWs, MFTs, and LPCs do the same work as a clinical psychologist as it relates to doing therapy, then why do we have LCSWs, MFTs, and LPCs? It is repetitive and confusing for patients. As a psychologist, my opinion is that we should have SW but not LCSW. We shouldn't have MFTs or LPCs. A clinical psychologist can do all the work that LCSWs, MFTs, and LPCs can do and given that we have two extra years of clinical work, most psychologists can do a better job of providing psychotherapy but not all of course.

  40. Hello it's me again. The problem is not my situation but the public humiliation that is endlessly going on. I'm very traumatized. I hope you could help me. If your not the right person I hope someone could help me because I'm struggling with my daily life because of the mind blowing and trauma I experienced about the media and humiliation. Thank you ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

  41. You’re literally the best at first I thought I wanted to become a dentist but when I started getting into therapy and learning about it it just really caught my attention and just seemed so fun because I sometimes feel very down I wouldn’t say I’m depressed just I feel alone and theirs no one I can talk to so I want to help people who feel the same way I do I literally only wanted to become a dentist because I thought the had cool buildings as a kid and I didnt know what else to do but therapy is so interesting to me (also totally subbing to you you’re the best!).

  42. This is so helpful for me!! Because I’ve always wanted to be a physiologist but I never rlly knew the difference between all of the other mental health carriers. Now I do

  43. Love your videos! Very helpful and refreshing to get "help" or knowledge from a profressional that is down-to-earth and not speaking to me from their throne lol You're very enlightening and insightful. Try to watch all your videos or clips? I mean are theyre really "videos" anymore? Lol squirrel! Anyways thanks again for your posts. "Next -so-and-so…is maself!" Lol Love it ~carry on

  44. I was with you until you got to the part where psychiatrists give 15-30 minute appointments. Which planet is this on, please? In 20 years with many doctors, I have not been scheduled or given more than 5-10 minutes after the initial appointment. It's a red letter day if the doc even looks up! They ask how everything's going, you say, fine, they make a note to phone in meds and you leave. At this point, I find I prescribe my own meds and they rubber stamp it. Not worth the drive.

  45. When you update this, please add Psychiatric Nurse Practitioners. We can prescribe meds, and also do therapy.

  46. This is the best explanation of our mental health professional designations and how similar we all really are, I work with a master level psychologist who cant practice therapy, she has more education than I do but didnt have a clear understanding of credentials and what they qualify people to do as professionals, this video should be standard for anyone who is looking for a career in mental health, very well done, and am now a subscriber. I am a PLMSW, practicing therapist who has not tested and works under direct supervision of an LCSW. I work directly under a psychiatrist in an inpatient behavioral health hospital, and absolutely love what we do.

  47. After about 16 years with teraphy and shrinkos, according to my experince wld not recomend it, why? Well in my situation back in 2006 it was clearly neglect and after violonce with my father the shrinko showed his face, i betreayed me ilike fuckung hell the fuck scammers, then a a new fucking stupid shrinko gave me a wrongful psycosis diagnosis after i barely open my mouth, lost my job, lost my apt, and the fuckung shrinko did not give a flying fuck about that, so i am sorry to say this but fuck you shrinkos!!!!

  48. I'm telling you, the best psychiatrists are the ones that are warm and fuzzy. Just my short interaction with them did more wonders than any antidepressant. More emphasis needs placed on caring about people. Thank you for explaining credentials because my last therapist was a LPC and I'm looking for a new therapist and to me at the time I considered LPC to be the least trained but you have said they are all pretty similar with exception of the psychiatrist. This makes me feel better.

  49. I have a question based on this video. Say I was seeing a LCSW and I was at first doing well and feeling my treatment was making progress. Then came a time where I started telling her I was being followed and that there were people watching my house. Knowing she is already seeing me for PTSD anxiety, and depression. I also tell her I can prove that I am being followed and I can prove there are care watching my house because I have a dash cam and a security system. Her response to me in therapy was what king of car do you drive? What kind of security system do you have? I have very vague answers because these questions not only disturbed me but also made me question weather or not she might be involved given that she was virtually the only person I was talking to. She too should have seen all of my signs and symptoms of BPD but I really don’t think she was interested in helping me. After a major incident involving erratic behavior and a threat of self harm due to issues going on in my life at that time. The police were called on me but never found me cause I hid from them. When I tried to discuss this with the social worker she walked me from her office into the Er and had me emoted for a psychiatric evaluation. While in the lobby I had a massive panic attack and while I was outside trying to catch my breath and it was obvious there was something wrong she sped walked away and said they will be with you in a moment. I felt like I got ditched cause she didn’t want to hear what happened and did t care what was going on with me given our appointment time still had 40 minutes left. She didn’t have any time for me. I saw her one more time asked her about her action outside the Er and her questions about my security system and my car. She said she was not in a hurry and had nothing more to say about the Er. And her questions she felt she was making conversation and I misinterpreted how a social worker would be making conversation like that in response to what I was saying. Either way I told her she fucked me over I knew it and I never saw her again. And yes she works for the VA

  50. I met a wonderful psychiatrist during my inpatient stay and he was all (really good) therapy and talk, we hardly talked about medication at all. I wonder how he did that:)

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