Mental Health Professionals: A Breakdown of Credentials and What They All Mean
Today everything comes with a title, label, acronym, slang term, niche, and when it comes to mental health professionals the list goes on and on. While it can be easy to get caught up in all the different abbreviations and definitions, each mental health professional has their own specialised area of expertise. Therefore, if you’re considering getting therapy, it can be helpful to know which professional to reach out to!
So what's the difference between Psychologist, Psychotherapists, RCC, CCC, RSW? The greatest differences among these professions are in the amount of schooling involved and what these healthcare professionals are qualified to do.
The Difference Between Psychologists and Psychotherapists
Psychologists and psychotherapists are similar in the services they provide; however, psychologists usually have more experience and have spent more time in academia focusing on a specific topic. They have extensive training in the assessment of behavioural and mental conditions, and can diagnose the full range of clinical presentations including neuropsychological disorders and dysfunctions as well as psychotic, neurotic and personality disorders.
A psychotherapist on the other hand might have more experience in learning therapeutic skills and application, as they have spent more time in clinical practice rather than academia. They may be more familiar with the current mental health zeitgeist. And they may take a more holistic wellness approach to mental well-being, such as looking at psychosocial factors. Both psychologists and psychotherapists can use talk therapy, specific modalities (e.g.: Internal Family Systems, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, etc.) and development of the therapeutic relationship, to treat any psycho-social or emotional difficulties, behavioural maladaptations, or any other areas that deal with an emotional nature. The key difference is that psychotherapists cannot make neuropsychological diagnosis, as those diagnoses are restricted to psychologists, but psychotherapists are competent in making general mental health diagnoses such as anxiety, depression and post traumatic stress disorder.
Overall if you are looking for psychological tests to be administered you are looking for a psychologist. If you are looking for someone who can help you work through challenges with mood, emotional regulation, relationships etc., you are looking for a psychotherapist. Psychotherapists can be found in agencies or private practice and are often contrived of different types.
Types of Psychotherapists
Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC)
A Masters degree is required to become an RCC along with a specific number of hours of supervision. These counsellors are quite common in BC, and are a part of the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors (BCACC). The BCACC certifies counsellors in BC and is the main regulatory body for clinical counsellors in BC. They are currently working towards obtaining Regulatory College status, which means that the regulatory body will have more legal status in the eyes of the Health Act and other aspects of the federal legislature.
Registered therapeutic Counsellor (RTC)
RCCs typically have a minimum of a Master's degree in counselling or a related field, whereas RTCs may have a diploma or certificate in counselling. RCCs must also have completed a minimum of 100 hours of supervised clinical experience, while RTCs are required to have at least 400 hours of supervised practicum experience.
Generally, RCCs have more extensive education and training requirements, a broader scope of practice, and are qualified to diagnose and treat mental health disorders, while RTCs typically focus on providing therapy for emotional and relational issues.
Both titles indicate that the counsellor has met specific professional standards and can provide effective therapeutic services to clients.
Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC)
The Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association (CCPA) certifies CCCs. They certify counsellors across Canada. A Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC) needs to hold a master’s degree with a background in counselling psychology, has to meet specific eligibility criteria, and has to undergo specific supervision and clinical hour requirements to become registered.
Registered Social Worker (RSW)
A Registered Social Worker has a Bachelor’s or Master's degree in Social Work. These counsellors are registered with the British Columbia Association of Social Workers, and are governed by the standards of practice and ethical guidelines of this governing body. Social worker services are GST exempt. GST for psychotherapeutic services are 5%.
Psychologists, RCCs, CCCs and RSWs are widely recognized by extended health programs. Other clinical counselling designations exist but may not be as widely recognized as the above named. There may be differences in what your unique program accepts. As we all know, extended health programs are not exactly trying to make it easy for folks to claim their health benefits so it’s possible for them to approve psychologist sessions but not psychotherapy sessions. It’s important for you to be familiar with your program if you intend on making use of your extended health benefits.
While it can be overwhelming starting your journey into the world of therapy, understanding what your needs are first can be a good place to start. After learning about different mental health professionals and their therapeutic approach, it may take a while to find the glass slipper. Be patient with the process until you find one who resonates with you. A good place to start, and the most affordable option may be seeking the support from a psychotherapist (RCC, CCC, RSW).
If you have further questions, contact us at An Elegant Mind Counseling, and we’d love to help get you started with a registered psychologist or psychotherapist.