Tuesday Therapy Notes: LCSW v. LPC

When you are looking for a therapist, you will probably notice a bit of alphabet soup going on after a therapist’s name. Those letters are the degrees and certifications they have, and each denotes a different background. In today’s Tuesday Therapy Notes we look at two of those acronyms: LCSW and LPC.

LCSWs are licensed clinical social workers. It typically requires a master’s degree. As social workers, they can and often do engage in psychotherapy practice. However, since they fall under the heading of social work, they include social services, such as assisting with job placement, healthcare assistance, and similar social functions. Because of these additional functions, they have more flexibility in the type of practice they choose as opposed to an LPC, which we’ll talk about in a minute. However, the drawback is that they have slightly less professional training. This isn’t to say they aren’t well trained and fully qualified, merely that the licensing requirements include less training.

LPCs, or Licensed Professional Counselors, also require a master’s degree, but does not cover the additional social services we talked about with LCSWs. They are primarily engaged in psychotherapy practices.

Of course, since LCSWs and LPCs both are qualified to assess mental health conditions and offer psychotherapy, that is the area where these two closely related fields will overlap the most. This of course means that if you are choosing a therapist, you might be wondering which one is a better choice.

And the answer can be both. If you want help with something like job placement, it might be better to go with an LCSW, but as far as the psychotherapy you will receive, both are fully qualified to help address your needs. Indeed, when I am choosing a new therapist, I typically look for one that has a better fit with my background and personality and am less concerned with the alphabet soup at the end of their name.

However, which route you ultimately take will depend entirely on you and your preferences. But I hope that this discussion has been helpful if you are pondering which type of a therapist to choose.

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