Credentials at the Doctoral Level

It might be easy to Google a psychotherapist in your local area, but how do you know which psychotherapist is the right fit?  Over the next few weeks, I will decode the process.  We will begin with credentials at the doctoral level, followed by master’s level next week, and then specialties.

In mental health, you will find clinicians with different degrees and credentials.  Providers who have MDs and DOs are psychiatrists.  Psychiatrists are medical doctors who completed a residency in psychiatry and specialize in mental health.  Unlike other doctoral-level psychotherapists, psychiatrists can prescribe medication.  While some psychiatrists practice psychotherapy, others only practice medication management.

Psychotherapists who have PhDs (research doctorates) are generally psychologists and mental health counselors.  The clinical practice of psychologists and mental health counselors are similar, but with a few minor differences.  Historically, clinical psychology focused on pathology and dysfunction, whereas mental health counseling focused on wellness and lifespan development.  Both practice psychotherapy and are trained in diagnosis.

Additionally, you may find psychologists with PsyDs.  A PsyD is a professional doctorate in psychology.