therapist-and-patient-300x265There can be quite a bit of confusion, when deciding which license to pursue. Should you go for a license in Marriage and Family Therapy or Professional Clinical Counseling? Should you become a psychologist? What is the difference between a psychologist and a therapist, and how do you choose?!

Licensed Psychologist

A psychologist is a social scientist who studies human behavior and mental process. They can work in a variety of settings; private practice, education, research, etc. Psychologists are able to diagnose and treat mental disorders and determine what is best for a client’s care. Psychologists must have a doctorate in order to become licensed, which can be between 4-7 years of graduate study. A doctorate can be in the form of a PhD (a doctor of philosophy; more research based) or a PsyD (a doctor of psychology; more clinically based). In addition to their extensive education, psychologists must complete 3,000+ hours of supervised experience before they can take the EPPP and other licensing exams. Psychologists tend to receive more training in testing and assessment.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) are relationship specialists who are trained to assess, diagnose, and treat individuals, couples, children, and families. MFTs must obtain a Master’s degree in a qualifying subject, such as Counseling Psychology before becoming licensed. Much like a psychologist, a MFT must complete 3,000+ hours of supervised experience before they can sit for their licensure exams. A therapist’s role is to help patients clarify goals and feelings in order to solve problems in relationships or other situations in their lives. Therapists provide support and guidance, while helping patients make effective decisions. MFTs receive extensive training in counseling using a variety of therapeutic orientations. MFTs receive more training in group therapy and support groups, but rarely using testing and assessment techniques in their regular practice.

Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor

Professional Clinical Counselors (PCCs) are very similar to MFTs. While MFTs were not recognized in all states until just recently, LPCCs have been recognized as the most common form of therapist or counselor in the United States. In order to become licensed, individuals will need the same amount of education and supervised experience as that of an MFT. LPCCs generally have more vocational counseling and rehabilitation experience and less child and family counseling experience, which will change the scope of practice they have. This mostly depends on the curriculum they have while earning their Master’s degree and is not going to be necessarily true for each practitioner.


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"I chose Ryokan because it was convenient, flexible and affordable. I still work, have a family, take care of my aged mom, own a home, etc. The online classes work best for my busy lifestyle. Without their flexibility, I would not pursue this."

Bob Kennedy, MS, MFT (current doctoral student)

"I had attended two California State Universities and received a Master’s Degree from each before attending Ryokan College to acquire my doctorate in Clinical psychology. My second Master’s Degree was from California State University at Dominguez Hills—the program was completely online and there was virtually no difference in the quality of education I received from an accredited California state university and Ryokan college."

Dr. Jann Blackstone-Ford

"My experience at Ryokan from the initial interview through graduation was one of encouragement, motivation and compassion. I have referred others to Ryokan without hesitation knowing first hand that the school is always a part of my mind and I will always be grateful to Ryokan for giving me that chance."

Honey Pietruszka, Psy. D. PSY