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Terms And Definitions

     Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)-


Marriage and family therapists (MFTs) are highly-trained (Masters degree) mental health professionals who bring a family-oriented perspective to health care. The MFT is a mental health license issued by the state Board of Behavioral Sciences. An MFT evaluates and treats mental and emotional disorders and other health and behavioral problems, and addresses a wide array of relationship issues within the context of the important context is the family.

     MFTs pioneered brief, solution-focused, family-centered treatment. They work to understand the problem as it exists now, and focus on solutions or actions which might help to resolve the problem. They may typically ask questions about family roles patterns, rules, goals, and stages of development. A family's patterns may influence an individual's health condition or problem, are usually affected by the disorder, and therefore need to be a part of the treatment plan. The unit of treatment is no longer the person - even if only a single person is interviewed - it is the set of relationships in which the person is imbedded.

     The MFT license requires:

  • Completion of a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy

  • At least two years of post-graduate experience supervised by a licensed MFT, LCSW, or Psychologist

  • Completion of standardized state tests

     Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)-

A Licensed Clinical Social Worker is a professional license issued by the Board of Behavioral Sciences, California Department of Consumer Affairs. It authorizes MSW social workers to provide independent psychotherapy and other clinical services to individuals, couples, families, and groups.

Clinical social workers provide mental health services for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of mental, behavioral, and emotional disorders in individuals, families, and groups. Their goal is to enhance and maintain their patients' physical, psychological, and social function

The CSW license requires:

  • Completion of the MSW degree,

  • At least two years of post-graduate experience supervised by a licensed CSW, MFT or Psychologist

  • Completion of standardized state tests

     MFT Intern or Associate of Social Work-

This is a person who has completed a masters degree in marriage and family therapy or Social Work. Both an Intern and Associate must complete 3000 hours under the supervision of an LCSW, MFT or Psychologist. To become licensed in their particular field, the intern or associate must pass a standardized test given by the board of behavioral sciences.

     Further information on the license is available the website of the California Board of Behavioral Sciences,

     Liscense Professional Counselor (LPC)-

  • Completion of a masters degree in professional counseling

  • At least two years of post-graduate experience supervised by a LPC, LCSW or Psychologist

  • Completion of the National Exam   

     The Psychologist (Psy.D. or Ph.D.)-

There are many different types of psychologists, including the following:

  • Clinical psychologists

  • Counseling psychologists

  • Developmental psychologists

  • Industrial-organizational psychologists

  • Research psychologists

  • School psychologists

      Clinical psychologists and counseling psychologists must have a doctoral degree (Ph.D. or Psy.D.). A doctoral degree requires 5 to 7 years of graduate study. A Ph.D. requires a dissertation based on original research, and a Psy.D. requires practical work experience and examinations. They also must complete a 1-year internship.

     Clinical psychology is the most common subspecialty. Clinical psychologists work in hospitals, private practices, and clinics. They help patients deal with illnesses (e.g., stroke, chronic pain), injuries (e.g., spinal cord injury), and personal crises (e.g., divorce, death of a loved one).

     Counseling psychologists assist patients in coping with every day living. They advise patients based on various test results and interviews, and often work in university counseling practice.

     School psychologists must have a master's degree and must complete a 1-year internship. They also often have an educational specialist degree (Ed.S.). Guidance counselors are usually required to have 2 years of graduate study and 1 year of counseling experience.

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