Sep 12, 2014
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Hello Friends,

Can you please explain the difference between the counseling theories and modalities of LPC, LCSW, and MFT? I have heard conflicting information, and some have said that the differences are based in the individual programs, not the professions as a whole.

I do not have a background in psychology (I studied economics). I am just starting to look into the various counseling theories and modalities, so I cannot say specifically which I am interested in. Generally speaking, I want to help people by teaching them to examine their own minds, and see how the way they relate wit their thoughts, their mental habits, identities, and beliefs/expectations about life make them happy or unhappy. I am interested in mindfulness based practices. Can you please recommend clinically focused programs that would suit this preference? I am not interested in doing case management in my career.

Thank you so much for your help :)
 
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Apr 10, 2014
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I will let the others answer this correctly and more in depth from the get go this time, but as for LCSWs, this is directly from pingouin's sticky thread at the top of the page entitled The Official MSW Q&A Thread: "Pretty much any theoretical orientation is fair game as long as you have been trained and supervised in using it. Psychodynamic, CBT, interpersonal, you name it. LCSWs can provide therapy for individuals, families, couples, and groups, although many people have a preference for some over others. (ie, I don't do couples, and my office isn't big enough to comfortably seat more than 5 people including myself.)"
I'm fairly certain this is the same for the other licenses, however, someone else will most likely know as opposed to be "pretty sure" so... One thing I have read on here time and time again, and I think it's valid, is make sure you are not picking your treatment modality based on what one interests you alone; by that I mean, don't pick Magic Brain Manipulation Through Happy Dance treatment because you like it. Make sure it is a well studied, empirically proven treatment for the populations you are interested in working with. Once again, take this for what it is, speculation, but it sounds like you are describing a psychodynamic therapy, but once again, others can go into more detail on that because I wouldn't feel comfortable saying so with absolute certainty, nor would I be able to describe them to you in great detail.
 
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ikibah

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Yup, once you get licensed you can you use whatever modalities you are trained in. It will probably depend very much on what your clinical supervisors use in your field placements...at least in the beginning. As time goes on you can get trained in whatever theory you want but like what was said above by sub and wes, you'll definitely want to use an evidence based practice.
 
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Thank you WesleySmith, Submarine1991, and Ikibah! I will continue researching all of these things. I am having some difficulty finding licensed professionals in my area to do informational interviews with. My alumni network (George Mason University) has virtually no one in their database. My plan now is to start cold contacting professionals I find via google search in my area. Any thoughts on this?
 
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Could you guys please recommend the "core text" used in masters programs, something that will give me a good sense of the flavor of the theoretical leaning, for each LPC, MFT, and LCSW?
 
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Thank you WesleySmith, Submarine1991, and Ikibah! I will continue researching all of these things. I am having some difficulty finding licensed professionals in my area to do informational interviews with. My alumni network (George Mason University) has virtually no one in their database. My plan now is to start cold contacting professionals I find via google search in my area. Any thoughts on this?

I know that the sub-reddit for SW (r/socialwork) has a sticky for people who would like to interview social workers. Maybe other professionals do too? I haven't looked but its worth a gander. I find networking on LinkedIn to be tremendously helpful. I may be reaching here, but perhaps a local MeetUp group in your area for clinicians or informational sessions for some academic programs can be helpful?
 
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Thank you Submarine! I will look in to the reddit. Do you have any advice for cold contacting people on LinkedIn requesting informational interviews? One possible challenge I face is that I live in a remote meditation monastery, so it would be difficult for me to meet in person. Are people generally willing to do phone interviews?

As per my questions on a "core text", I realized it is probably more sensible to look at the texts used in the particular programs I am considering, since people say the philosophical leanings can vary program to program. What do you think?
 

Goobernut

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I'm on my phone and lazy right now, but I just wanted to stop by and say that there are some texts that are used cross-orientations. For example, in my group therapy class we are using Yalom's book -- he is pretty much the standard in group therapy practice. I have seen others on the PhD side mentioned they used the same book for their beginning classes. But in another class I'm using a social work specific book that I don't particularly like.

I think your idea of looking at books in programs you are interested in are a great idea. I also think that professionals would not mind a phone interview or even email as some tend to be very busy!

On a side note, and I haven't done much research on the subject, but I don't know of many master's level programs that focus on mindfulness. I think they tend to be a bit more general. They all incorporate bits of it here and there. ACT (Acceptance and Commitment therapy) is a modality you might be interested in. It is a form of therapy that uses a lot of mindfulness practices and is generally considered an evidence based therapy.
 

SublimeNature

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I would say that those licensures are less about "theory" and more about specific practice. If you're concerned with theory, go for your doctorate where you will get a lot more theory. The letters you list mean different thing for different states.Here's my take from IL:

LCSW- more $$, more schooling, more options
LPC- eventually as much $$ as LCSW but you need to complete 2 years of supervised work to practice independently. At that point, you're eligible for your LCPC, which is much more $$ and more freedom, plus more job opportunities than the LPC.
MFT- I had to look this one up. I guessed, and guessed right, about what it is. In my state, this is a subspecialty that you can utilize with either your LCSW or LCPC. I wouldn't recommend this unless working with families is all you are interested in, ever. Hope this helps!
 
Apr 10, 2014
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I would say that those licensures are less about "theory" and more about specific practice. If you're concerned with theory, go for your doctorate where you will get a lot more theory. The letters you list mean different thing for different states.Here's my take from IL:

LCSW- more $$, more schooling, more options
LPC- eventually as much $$ as LCSW but you need to complete 2 years of supervised work to practice independently. At that point, you're eligible for your LCPC, which is much more $$ and more freedom, plus more job opportunities than the LPC.
MFT- I had to look this one up. I guessed, and guessed right, about what it is. In my state, this is a subspecialty that you can utilize with either your LCSW or LCPC. I wouldn't recommend this unless working with families is all you are interested in, ever. Hope this helps!

Keep in mind an LCSW needs 2-3 years of supervised practice before they can practice independently as well, depending on the state. Also, the MFT may be a subspecialty of counseling in general, but I've found nothing but random websites stating the educational requirements include a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy (this included Illinois). So you can't earn an MSW and become a MFT, I'm not sure about an MS or MA in counseling psychology, but it doesn't look like that would lead to eligibility for the MFT license either.
 
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Sep 12, 2014
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Thanks a lot for your help Wesley, Sub, and Goober. I've decided to go LPC, and am currently trying to decide between William and Mary or Virginia Tech. Do any of you know which degree would open more doors for my career, or which is a better education?

Wes, MFT have their own degrees and accrediting body. The accreditation is COAMFTE by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.
http://www.aamft.org/iMIS15/AAMFT/Content/coamfte/coamfte.aspx
I know that William and Marry and Virginia Tech both have MFT degrees. VA Tech's is accredited by COAMFTE.
 
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