Are you Impressed with Credentials?

July 1, 2015

Attorneys and Judges are often confused about mental health providers’ designations, education, and professional affiliations. Hopefully this article will clear up the confusion.

In Georgia there are five licensed mental health professional designations. Psychologists have doctoral degrees (Ph.D., Psy.D, or Ed.D.) and provide psychotherapy, consultation, can diagnose and treat mental disorders, and are the only licensed mental health provider to do psychological and psychoeducational testing. Psychiatrists have a medical degree (M.D. or D.O.) and can provide psychotherapy, consultation, diagnose and treat mental disorders, and provide medication.  Licensed Clinical Social Workers have a Masters Degree (M.S.W.) and provide psychotherapy, consultation, and can diagnose and treat mental disorders. The remaining two designations are the Licensed Professional Counselor and the Marriage and Family Therapist. They have a Masters Degree in counseling or psychology and are licensed to provide counseling. All mental health providers must be licensed to practice by the appropriate state licensing agency which controls the practice of that particular profession.

Many attorneys get confused between the license of a provider and their education and degree.  It is possible for a person to have a Ph.D., but only be licensed as a Licensed Professional Counselor and NOT as a psychologist. It is very important to ask your mental health consultants what their actual license is to make sure they are licensed as the type of provider you are looking for. Many people think that the nationally syndicated radio host “Dr. Laura” is a psychologist. In fact she has a Ph.D. in physiology and is licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist in California.

Another area of confusion is with Board certification. There are very few true Board certifications sanctioned by the major professional associations. These designations indicate that the professional has achieved a certain level of professional expertise.  For psychologists there is the American Board of Professional Psychology. Psychiatrists can be board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Licensed Clinical Social Workers can be board certified by the Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW).

Unfortunately there are many “Vanity Board” certifications that look very impressive to many attorneys and the court. Unfortunately they are actually worthless in certifying any professional competence.  The following are vanity board designations that some mental health providers have used in the greater Atlanta area without ever being questioned about their validity.  If you see the following designations after a professionals name realize that these “Boards” are vanity boards with little or no requirements for membership: A.A.P.T.A.-Diplomat in Addictionology; F.C.I.C.P.P- Fellow of Child/Adolescent Psychology, International College of Professional Psychology; C.C.J.A.P.-II- Certified Criminal Justice Addiction Professional, Level II; C.S.P- Certified Sports Psychologist; C.C.A.D.C- Certified Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor; F.A.C.A.P.P.- Fellow, American College of Advanced Practice Psychologists; C.R.S.T.- Certified Rational Sex Therapist; D.A.B.P.S.- Diplomat, American Board of Psychological Specialties; F.P.P.R- Diplomat, Psychopharmacology; C.R.A.T.- Certified Rational Addictions Therapist; I.C.A.D.C.- Internationally Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor; M.A.C- Master Addiction Counselor; D.A.B.F.M/B.C.F.M.- Diplomat, Forensic Medicine; D.A.B.F.E./B.C.F.E.- Diplomat, Forensic Examination; C.C.J.S.- Certified Criminal Justice Specialist; C.G.P.- Certified Group Psychotherapist; C.C.S.- Certified Clinical Supervisor; A.A.P.T.A.- Diplomat in Addictionology. Most of these so called “Boards” sound very impressive and prestigious. Unfortunately they have almost no relationship to the actual competence of a particular provider.

Dr. Zoe M. KatzeSteve Eichel, Ph.D., a psychologist in Delaware had his cat obtain “Board Certification” from the American College of Forensic Examiners, American Psychotherapy Association, National Guild of Hypnotists, American Board and Hypnotherapy, International Medical and Dental Hypnotherapy Association, and is a member of the American Association of Professional Hypnotherapists. In case you were wondering, he registered his cat under the name Dr. Zoe D. Katze.

Hopefully this clarified for you the various mental health professional designations and makes you at least a little more skeptical when you come across a professional whose credentials look too impressive.

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