Healthcare Professional Credentials – What Do They All Mean?

When you plan to entrust your health and wellness to a healthcare professional, you might be confused about the credentials and titles used. There are so many that you’ll come across, such as LPC, LAC, RYT-200, NCC, and more – for someone who has never really heard of them, it can be quite challenging to decipher what they all mean. Who is the best healthcare professional for you? Before deciding on that, it would be a good idea to know what the title means and what kind of care professionals offer their patients.

Therapists and Counselor Credentials

First up is the mental healthcare professionals. These are your therapists, social workers, marriage counselors, and so on. They’re responsible for working with your behavioral health and mental illnesses. You won’t be treated for any physical issues, nor will you be prescribed any kind of medication for your issues. 

Of course, as therapists and counselors provide an entirely different service than those working in the medical field, there are different degrees and qualifications that are required before they can practice on patients.


LPC or a Licensed Professional Counsellor is a counselor that requires the practitioner to have a master’s degree based on their practice. While not always a specialist that focuses on a specific issue or area within counseling, they are still required to have the qualifications necessary to provide intimate psychological therapy to their patients. There are a number of titles that fall under the same category, and that’s because they may be labeled slightly differently based on location. Here are some of the similar titles you may hear of below:

  • LAC – Licensed Associate Counselor
  • LMHC – Licensed Mental Health Counselor
  • LPCC – Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor
  • LCPC – Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
  • LCMHC – Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor

All of which may share the same qualification and similar experience within their job description.


Unlike other counselors, an RYT-200 won’t work with your mental health. RYT, or Registered Yoga Teacher, is someone who has completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training course that qualifies them to teach yoga to others. Yoga Therapy may be beneficial to both physical and mental wellness.


While it sounds similar to LPC and other titles, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker has a master’s degree as well as a great deal of training in mental health counseling. These counselors put a bigger focus on societal and environmental impacts on an individual’s mental health, as well as providing talking therapy to provide healthy coping mechanisms.


An LMFT is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. While carrying the same qualifications and master’s as an LCSW, they have a greater focus and specialization in family and marriage counseling. 


Similar to an LCSW, a LICSW is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. These share the same qualifications, however, an independent social worker may have a special independent license for independent practice in certain states.


Psy.D or Doctor of Psychology significantly differs from a LAC or LCSW. This position requires a doctorate in psychology, and the main focus of individuals practicing with this title is to diagnose conditions – rather than work on behavioral therapy. The goal is to get to the bottom of the problem so that further action can be taken regarding the diagnosis.

Medical Credentials 

As far as behavioral and mental health goes, those with medical qualifications typically won’t be treating you. If you have a diagnosis, however, you may be prescribed the medication needed to aid your condition. 


MD is a pretty commonly heard title, and it stands for Doctor of Medicine. To practice in this position, individuals have to achieve their medical school degree which can take 4 years to get, and then doctors will spend around 3 to 7 years in residency. From here, MDs can specialize in a number of different fields – whether it be family practice or psychiatric care. It’s important to note that when referring to the medical field, psychiatric care typically involves prescribing medications for mental illness rather than having a focus on providing therapy.


A PA or Physician Assistant is qualified to diagnose an illness, as well as prescribe the correct medication and treatment plan. You would visit a PA with a diagnosed, or undiagnosed illness to get the treatment you need. It could be for advice, a recovery plan, or a prescription – a PA is qualified to serve as a primary care provider.


NP or Nurse Practitioner is someone who has a graduate-level degree in their education, with an additional set of training – allowing them to provide a higher level of care than a registered nurse. NPs can be found in hospitals, emergency rooms, clinics, nursing homes, physician’s offices, and more. When visiting your physician, you may find that your primary care is left to an NP.


A PMNHP is a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. This is a Nurse Practitioner that has specialized in psychiatric care and is qualified to handle prescriptions and treatments in this field.


Family Nurse Practitioner is an NP who is specialized in family care and medicine.


Doctor of Nursing Practice. This is for NPs who have received higher education and training, to a doctorate level. 

Why are there so many?

There are many different fields of physical and mental health care, where heavy specialization is often important if the right care is going to be provided. These are in place to ensure that every patient is able to receive effective care for them while working with a doctor who is experienced in handling their condition.

Get Help from Peak Recovery Today

If you’re an individual suffering from addiction and/or mental health and are looking for the best healthcare professional for you, consider reaching out to PRC as soon as possible. Whether it’s questions about what kind of care is available to you or questions about the services – you could be in touch with a specialist in just a few moments.

Medical Disclaimer: Peaks Recovery Centers uses fact-based content about recovery treatment, addiction medicine, and behavioral health conditions to improve the quality of life for those struggling with drug and alcohol addiction or mental health disorders. This information is not intended to replace professional medical guidance, diagnosis, care, or treatment. This information should not be used as a substitute for advice from a qualified healthcare provider and/or your physician.