Who Can Diagnose?

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by PhDToBe, May 19, 2010.

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  1. PhDToBe

    PhDToBe 7+ Year Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    I wanted to know who can diagnose psychological disorders. I know it varies from state to state, but what are the general requirements? Thank you.
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  3. Rapunzel

    Rapunzel 5+ Year Member

    Oct 11, 2006
    In Utah, I am able to diagnose psychological disorders. I am a Master's level mental health counselor. So do MSWs, LMFTs, etc. If you are an intern, including student intern, you can do everything that your supervisor is qualified to do and willing to sign for you to do.
  4. jtb


    May 14, 2010
    in NY, where I am licensed as a mental health counselor, we have the ability to use the DSM IV to "assess." This is to preserve the ability for social workers to maintain a "leg up" in the field as mid-level practicioners. It basically means we (LMHC's) can still operate in private practice and in county facilities but some agencies choose to keep it all LSCW strictly for this reason. My wife is an LCSW and our training in NY is essentially the same, including courses in psychophathology and diagnosing, and the licensing test form LMHC's is almost entirely dependent on diagnostic ability.
  5. stigmata

    stigmata 2+ Year Member

    Apr 30, 2010
    cheyenne, wyoming
    In Ca., Co. and Wy all licensed mental health providers (LPC, LCSW, MFT etc..) can diagnose with the exception that in Wy mid-level providers need a cosignature from a doctor (MD/PhD/PsyD) to bill medicaid.
  6. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Oct 6, 2006
    The Beach
    There is also a difference between who can diagnose legally and who can diagnose ethically. For example, a provider unfamiliar with the various Dx's along the autism spectrum should not make a diagnosis in that area, though many times they still do. I bring this up because I often see diagnoses that are in direct conflict with each other (the differential is an either/or scenario), yet they appear together. It is my personal belief that a diagnosis should require a full clinical interview and formal psychological testing. Until this can happen the diagnosis should include rule outs and a formal diagnosis should only be made after more information can be collected. Admittedly this is not realistic in some circumstances, but it may help clear up some of the treatment issues we encounter later on.

    I recently was consulted on a case where the diagnosis was unclear and the clinician did not feel comfortable making a formal diagnosis without significant psychological and neuropsychological testing. The provider is a very seasoned clinician who legally could make the diagnosis, but ethically she was not comfortable to do so. I point this out because instead of putting something down that didn't full capture the symptoms (which is what previous providers did), she deferred the diagnosis until she had more information.

    So to answer the OP....in the majority of states most licensed mental health providers can provide a diagnosis....but many should not, but still do. Included in this statement are both MA/MS and Ph.D/Psy.D/MD.
    Last edited: May 20, 2010
  7. lookitssara


    Aug 30, 2009
    In Tennessee, you must be a Licensed Mental Health Provider (this is at the masters level, I am unfamiliar if this label is also necessary at the doctoral level).

    The LMHP is one step past being a licensed professional counselor/clinical social worker/etc as it requires more experience (and, I believe, experience in a setting with mental illness) and more specific courses in DSM/psychopathology, etc. The LMHP in our state is also what enables more insurance providers to reimburse for services.
  8. JD7699


    Feb 21, 2010
    While many masters level providers are diagnosing in CA(MFTs and LCSWs), it is not clearly written in the licensure laws and both professions have attempted to have their scope of practice amended to include the terms diagnosis of mental and emotional disorders. The term psychotherapy or psychotherapeutic techniques is written in the licensure laws of these professions which allows the treatment of mental and emotional disorders. MFTs had their scope amended to include utilizing the training they are provided which infers the ability to diagnose as it is a requirement of the training to become a MFT in CA. The LPCC licensure law that just passed in CA is similar to the other professions mentioned. Of non physicians, only the psychologist licensure law clearly states diagnosis as within the scope.
  9. PhDToBe

    PhDToBe 7+ Year Member

    Nov 15, 2009
    Thanks, everyone!

    I basically was just curious to know if Master's-level practitioners could do it.
  10. BSWdavid

    BSWdavid 2+ Year Member

    Jan 10, 2009
    Interestingly enough, Indiana is one of the few states that prohibits master level practitioners from diagnosing. We can "assess" for mental health, applying diagnostic coding, submit for insurance reimbursement, etc. but cannot legally diagnose. The law was actually created because a nurse in the state felt it was wrong for master level practitioners to diagnose. She felt because nurses couldn't diagnose (and in her view master level practitioners were the nurses of psychologists) master level therapists shouldn't be permitted to either.

    I find this a bit disturbing as we can "assess" but can't make a legal diagnosis. Although, in practice we diagnose everyday, and the MD signs off on it.

    It also irks me that family practitioners can make a mental health diagnosis but master level therapists can't. This is absurd!
  11. Diagnose


    Jul 30, 2013
    A prerequisite to diagnosing psychological disorders should be a medical understanding of them beyond that which is posted in Wikipedia.
  12. erg923

    erg923 Psychologist 10+ Year Member

    Apr 6, 2007
    Wikipedia knows all, smarty pants!
  13. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist 7+ Year Member

    Feb 15, 2009
    Just curious, but to what extent are you an implying? And does the sword cut both ways? Should people also be required to show an understanding if the psychological sequelae beyond what is involved in a wiki entry?
  14. tine1224


    Nov 19, 2013
    Can MFTI's and LMFT's legally diagnose/give diagnoses in the states of PA, CA, and NJ??? Anyone know where I could find this information? Thanks for reading =)
  15. CheetahGirl

    CheetahGirl Clinical Psychologist 10+ Year Member

    Feb 15, 2007
    formerly from Atlanta, GA
    I agree. In NY (where I reside & train), I clearly note who (by credentials) made the prior psychological/psychiatric diagnoses and see what evidence is presented to corroborate the evaluation. If the evidence is weak, then I perform my own evaluation and consult with the treatment team before I officially code a diagnosis for billing purposes. Now my consultation with supervisors/treatment team BEFORE official diagnosis may be because I’m still in training (and it's required of me at this stage ;)), but I still believe this information cannot be assigned in a vacuum and I've found is often problematic when done so (i.e. a pediatrician should not diagnosis ADHD in a child, unless a full clinical interview & formal testing by a clinical or school psychologist (PhD/PsyD) has been conducted with collateral information from parents/caregivers/teachers AND a recent auditory/vision screening has been performed). This designates a full comprehensive evaluation, and gold standards are always changing, so it's important to make sure you're clinically up-to-date on the population you serve.

    Good luck with finding your answer, OP! :luck:
  16. psychRA

    psychRA Psychologist 10+ Year Member

    Mar 8, 2007
    Plus you have the providers who, because they are trainined to give diagnoses, think that they can get creative with the process. I once fielded a call from a patient who was looking for a therapist who had experience in treating a specific type of ADHD, since her previous therapist (who had diagnosed her) was retiring, and the patient was frustrated that she hadn't found anyone. Problem was, this particular type of ADHD doesn't actually exist - without sharing the specifics, the therapist had essentially invented a new ADHD type (something similar to "ADCHD", where the C stood for "characteristic that I invented") based on her own clinical experiences, and told the patient that this was the type that she had. This poor patient was at her wit's end trying to find an ADCHD therapist.
  17. mkberry85

    mkberry85 2+ Year Member

    Mar 10, 2013
    It really does depend on the state. But in general any medical practitioner (physician or PA-C), nurse practitioner, licensed professional counselors, licensed psychologists, clinical social workers, and at times marriage/family therapists.

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