Types of Therapists
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About Therapists

There is a fair amount of confusion in the public about the types of therapists and their qualifications.  The first thing to distinguish is the difference between degrees and licensure. The degree has to do with the type and amount of schooling (e.g. M.A., Ph.D., M.D.), while the license (M.F.T, L.C.S.W., Licensed Psychologist) has to do with supervised clinical experience and a state administered tests.  In the description below, you will note that each level of licensure can have practitioners with dissimilar degrees. 

Psychiatrists  A psychiatrist is a doctor who has completed 4 years of medical school, complete with rotations in surgery, medicine, etc.  After receiving their medical license, they specialize by completing a 4 year residency.  Although prior to WWII, psychiatry developed the field of talk therapy, currently only a very few psychiatrists have training to do this.  Most commonly, a psychiatric residency consists of diagnosing and prescribing medication for the more severe psychiatric cases, usually in a hospital setting.  

In private practice, psychiatrists are very good at diagnosis and are currently the only therapist that prescribes psychoactive medications.  While most psychiatric medications are prescribed by primary care physicians, the psychiatrist is a specialist.  Typical fees range from $160--$300 for the first hour and then from $60-$100 for the (on average) monthly 20 minute follow up sessions.

Psychologists Psychologists usually have a Ph.D. or Psy.D. degree in clinical psychology, though there are a few other degrees that qualify as well.  A Ph.D. is an “earned doctorate,” meaning the holder has done research to achieve the degree.  Many Psychologists with degrees after 1990 chose to pursue a Psy.D. degree.  A Psy.D. is a professional doctorate, similar to an M.D. or J.D. (attorney) where research is not emphasized.  In addition to a doctoral degree, Psychologists must complete 3,000 hours of supervised training.  It takes a psychologist an average of 7.1 years after the bachelors degree to become licensed.

Psychologists are trained in a broader range of mental health topics than any other mental health professional.  They receive instruction in biological, cognitive, and social bases of behavior, diagnostic evaluation and assessment, personality theory, intervention and treatment technique, psychological test administration and construction and in outcome evaluation and research methods.

While other disciplines use psychological theory and treatment, most new theory and treatment methods are developed, and researched by psychologists.  Psychologists are in the forefront of research of the mind/body interface and are increasingly called upon to teach residents and interns in various medical specialties.

In private practice, only psychologists and psychiatrists have the scope of practice that allows them to independently diagnose and treat patients in either an office or hospital setting. While the psychology license is broad, most psychologists specialize in one or more sub-specialties. While MFT’s and educational psychologists may do limited psychological testing, psychologists can administer and evaluate the broadest range of testing.  Typical office fees run from $70-$150 per hour.

Licensed Clinical Social Workers or LCSW’s have a masters degree in social work and have completed 3,200 post-degree supervised hours.  It takes an LCSW an average of 4 years after a bachelors degree to become licensed.  In hospital and agency settings they often work very closely with M.D.’s but they are licensed to see patients privately as well.  There seems to be many less LCSW’s than MFT’s, as their schools tend to be associated  only with major universities.  Private fees tend to be in the $50-$130 range.

Marriage and Family Therapists  (Formerly Marriage Family and Child Counselors).  While the name suggests that they focus on marriage and child issues, in truth, MFT’s treat the same issues as psychologists and clinical social workers.  The difference has to do with the level and type of training they receive.  While the MFT receives about as much classroom training as LCSW’s and  are required to have 3,000 hours of supervised experience, they are generally considered to be the least well trained as compared to the disciplines listed above.  Interestingly, they are being utilized more and more by the managed insurance companies, as they are the least expensive to pay.  Typical fees are from $50-$130.

Unlicensed therapists.  There are more people who “practice” therapy without a license than you would think.  Very often, they get around licensing by working through a “church” or with “spiritual” issues.  There is also a new trend of “coaching” that also currently does not require any form of licensing.  In that these groups are not regulated, you do not have any reassurance about their competency. Buyer beware!

We're Different explains how WRP offers extra-ordinary care.

About Our Staff  shows the licensing mix of our therapists.

Wilmes-Reitz Psychological

23945 Calabasas Rd., Suite 202

 Calabasas, California  91302

(818) 591-8270





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