Mental Health Licensure, Degrees, Certifications, Registration and Academies: A Description Of Credentials

Revised:  November 27, 2013

By:  Mentor Research Institute

Understanding the meaning and value of a licensure, certification, academies and registration can be difficult.  To most people, these terms are used by practitioners to represent their qualifications.  Many people, including some practitioners, do not understand what these terms and the letters after a professional name mean.  The following will hopefully begin to clarify these issues.

In the most general terms, graduation from a degree program assures minimal to excellent level of academic training and possibly clinical training that may be associated with a supervised clinical practicum or internship.  Greater education can make a difference, but education alone is not adequate.   Certifications provide some assurance that a professional has participated in an examination and may include lecture, study, practice and supervision.  However, certification is only as good as the certifying organization and the quality of certifying organizations can range from excellent to poor.  Registration as a therapist, counselor, Hypnotherapist or professional, etc.. is less meaningful than licensure and certification and does not really predict competence or the quality of care you will receive.  Academies are an interesting phenomena.  A professional's membership in an academy does not predict the quality of care you might receive.  The effect on treatment outcomes has not been established.   Offering certifications, registration and membership status in academies and professional organizations is the primary way for these organizations to make money, fulfill the organization's mission and to protect the public. 

The State of Oregon licenses mental health professionals such as counselors, psychologists,  social workers, psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychiatrists to practice in health care.  Further information is available from the specific State Boards that are responsible for regulating practice.

ABCN American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology - Diplomate
ABPP American Board of Professional Psychology - Diplomate
ACSW Academy of Clinical Social Workers
ADTR Academy of Dance Therapists Registered
ATR Registered Art Therapist
BCD Board Certified Diplomate (Social Work)
CADC Certified Alcohol/Drug Counselor
CCMHC Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor
CGP Certified Group Psychotherapist
CHT Certified Hakomi Therapist 
Certified Hypnotherapist
CMHC Certified Mental Health Counselor Washington
CSW Clinical Social Worker - Washington
CSWA Clinical Social Work Associate
DDiv Doctorate of Divinity
DNSc Doctorate of Nursing Science
EdD Doctorate of Education
FAClin.P Fellow in the Academy of Clinical Psychology
LCSW Licensed Clinical Social Worker Oregon
LMFT Licensed Marriage Family Therapist - Oregon
LMT Licensed Massage Therapist - Oregon
LPA Licensed Psychologist Associate
LPC Licensed Professional Counselor - Oregon
MA Master of Arts Degree
MDiv Master of Divinity Degree
MEd Master of Education Degree
MFCC Marriage Family Child Counselor - California
MPS Master of Pastoral Studies Degree
MS Master of Science Degree
MSW Master of Social Work Degree
MSWAC Master Degree in Social Work Addictions Counseling
NACCMHC Nat'l Assn. of Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselors
NACFT National Academy of Certified Family Therapists
NCC National Certified Counselor
ND Naturopathic Doctor
PAC Certified Physician's Assistant
PhD Doctorate of Philosophy
PMHNP Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
PsyD Doctorate of Psychology
QMHA Qualified Mental Health Associate
QMHP Qualified Mental Health Professional
RN Registered Nurse - Oregon
RNCS Registered Nurse Clinical Specialist