Professional programs and credentialing bodies set a high bar for behavioral health professionals. When choosing a provider, it’s a good idea to take a close look at the training they’ve completed and the certifications and licenses they hold. This is key to understanding whether they can provide the services you’re seeking.
Decoding the abbreviations that follow a provider’s name can be a challenge. To help, we’ve put together a list of some of the most common degrees and credentials in the field of behavioral health.
Refers to degree level and does not necessarily indicate licensure to practice.
DO: Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (Psychiatrist). Emphasis on mental health and substance use. Can prescribe medication.
EdD: Doctor of Education
EdS: Education Specialist Degree. Degree above master’s, but not a full doctorate.
DMin: Doctor of Ministry
MA: Master of Arts
MD: Medical Doctor (Psychiatrist). Emphasis on mental health and substance use. Can prescribe medication.
MDiv: Master of Divinity
MEd: Master of Education
MS: Master of Science
MSW: Master of Social Work
PhD: Doctorate, typically Doctor of Psychology
PsyD: Doctor of Psychology with a clinical focus
Refers to registration with DORA (Department of Regulatory Agencies) to practice in a mental health or substance use-related field.
ADS: Acupuncture Detoxification Specialist. Acupuncture for addictions, stress, and trauma. Certification is through the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association.
APRN: Advanced Practice Registered Nurse. Graduate-level nurse practitioner who can prescribe medication and provide a diagnosis.
ATR: Registered Art Therapist. Art therapy uses art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork as a therapeutic and healing process. Art therapists are able to treat mental health or substance use concerns through this approach, along with other therapeutic techniques.
ATR-BC: Registered Art Therapist-Board Certified. Art therapy uses art media, the creative process, and the resulting artwork as a therapeutic and healing process. Board certification indicates the therapist has passed further exam set by the Art Therapy Credentials Board.
BCBA: Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. Board certification for this approach to analyzing and changing behavior, often used for individuals with autism.
CAC I: Certified Addiction Counselor. First level for providers who work primarily with substance use. Each level requires additional education and experience.
CAC II: Certified Addiction Counselor. Second level of certification for providers who work primarily with substance use.
CAC III: Certified Addiction Counselor. Third level of certification for providers who work primarily with substance use.
CHT: Certified Hypnotherapist. Hypnosis is a tool to help in some forms of treatment. CHT indicates the provider has completed training and been certified through the International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association.
DOT SAP: Department of Transportation Substance Abuse Professional. Professional who evaluates DOT employees who may have a substance use problem.
DTR: Registered Dance Therapist. Dance/movement therapy focuses on movement in therapy; body movement is a core component for treatment.
EMDR Certified: Certified in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. EMDR is a form of therapy that helps people heal from trauma or other distressing life experiences. EMDR certified clinicians have completed basic EMDR training, along with requirements for additional training, consultation, and treatment sessions.
EMDR Trained: Trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. Clinicians have completed basic EMDR training.
LAC: Licensed Addiction Counselor. Highest level of addiction counselor certifications. An LAC must have a master’s or doctorate degree and all CAC requirements.
LCSW: Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Master’s level therapist.
LMFT: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Master’s level or higher therapist with emphasize on relationships.
LP: Licensed Psychologist. Has a PhD in psychology and has passed state licensure board. Cannot prescribe medication.
LPC: Licensed Professional Counselor. Master’s or doctorate-level therapist who has passed examination.
LPCC: Therapist who is a candidate to be an LPC. LPCC must complete post-degree hours under supervision for at least two years and pass examination.
LSW: Master’s level therapist who is a candidate to be an LCSW. LSW must complete post-degree hours under supervision for at least two years and pass examination board.
MFT-C: Therapist who is a candidate to be an LMFT. MFT-C must complete post-degree hours under supervision for at least two years and pass examination.
NCC: National Certified Counselor. Advanced degree in counseling and completion of the National Counselor Examination (NCE) for licensure and certification.
PMHNP: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. Graduate-level nurse practitioner who can prescribe medication and provide diagnosis; training emphasis on psychiatry.
RPT: Registered Play Therapist. Mental health professional with training and experience working with children and families using play.