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 important 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. May also include certification through appropriate national organizations. To review a provider's credentials, visit the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies' website.
AASECT-Certified Sex Therapist: Licensed mental health professional who specializes in treating clients with sexual issues and concerns. Certification is through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists.
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.
BCB: Board Certified in Biofeedback. Provider has completed training as well as additional requirements and examination for certification.
BCBA: Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. Board certification for this approach to analyzing and changing behavior, often used for individuals with autism.
CAS: Certified Addiction Specialist. Certification for providers with expertise in the field of substance use. Encompasses previous levels of CAC II and CAC III.
CAT: Certified Addiction Technician. Certification for providers who work with substance use. Replaces previous level of CAC I.
CCTP: Certified Clinical Trauma Professional. Certification for master's level or higher therapists who have continuing education training specific to trauma assessment and treatment.
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 certification. Must have a master’s or doctorate degree and meet other requirements.
LCSW: Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Master’s-level or higher therapist with post-degree experience and supervision, and has passed board exam.
LMFT: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Master’s-level or higher therapist with post-degree experience and supervision, with an emphasis on relationships.
LP: Licensed Psychologist. Has a PhD in psychology and has passed state licensure board. Cannot prescribe medication.
LPC: Licensed Professional Counselor. Therapist at master's or doctorate level who has passed examination.
LPCC: Therapist who is a candidate to be an LPC. LPCC must complete post-degree hours with supervision for at least two years and pass examination.
LSW: Master’s-level therapist who must pass board exam and may provide care in a nonclinical setting. May get an LCSW after accruing required experience and supervision hours.
MAC: Master Addiction Counselor. National certification for professionals working with substance use disorders. Master’s level or higher with additional requirements and examination.
MFTC: Therapist who is a candidate to be an LMFT. MFTC must complete post-degree hours with supervision for at least two years and pass examination.
MRET: Master Rapid Eye Technician. Rapid Eye Technology is a method to help relieve emotional stress. Master practitioners have training and certification from the Rapid Eye Institute.
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.
SWC: Clinical Social Work Candidate. Therapist who is a candidate to be an LCSW. Must complete post-degree experience and hours under supervision for at least two years and pass board exam.