By education & degree

*What are all the abbreviations?
Post-nominal titles indicate clinicians' trainings!

MD - Doctor of Medicine
PsyD - Doctor of Psychology
PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
MA / MS - Master of Arts / Master of Science
LCP - Licensed Clinical Psychologist
LMFT - Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
LMSW - Licensed Master Social Worker
LICSW / LCSW - Licensed (Independent) Clinical Social Worker
LMHC - Licensed Mental Health Counselor
LPC - Licensed Professional Counselor
NCC - National Certification in Counseling
ATR - Art Therapist Registered
CAGS - Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies



Learn more

  • Psychiatrist: A medical doctor with an MD; can prescribe medication; some also offer weekly talk therapy and if they do, they can be the most expensive of the practitioners.  

  • Nurse Practitioner: A nurse who can prescribe medication under the supervision of a medical doctor; some also provide weekly therapy and if they do, they can also be expensive. 
  • Psychologist: Has a PhD or PsyD; trained in clinical therapy; experts at delivering many types of talk therapy; cannot prescribe medication. 

  • Social worker: Has a Masters degree in social work and additional training in therapy; can tend to offer more affordable care; cannot prescribe medication.

  • Counselor / Marriage and Family Therapist: Has a Masters degree in psychology, counseling, or a related field; can tend to offer more affordable care; cannot prescribe medication. 


A longer explanation

“Therapist” is broadly used for professionals trained in helping patients overcome psychological and emotional issues. Regardless of their official title or qualifications, mental health professionals are all trained in some form of psychotherapy.
It's very important to choose a therapist who you feel comfortable with and whose approach and style you like.

Psychiatrist: A medical doctor with an MD; can prescribe medication; some also offer weekly talk therapy and if they do, they can be the most expensive of the practitioners

  • Overview: A medical doctor MD (similar to a family doctor or pediatrician) who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of emotional disorders. Psychiatrists evaluate patients and prescribe medications. Some also do weekly talk therapy and if they do, they can be the most expensive of the providers. The vast majority focus on medical management and refer to a psychologist or other specialized therapist for talk therapy, though some clients prefer seeing a psychiatrist for both medication management and talk therapy to avoid the hassle of seeing multiple practitioners. 

  • Education: MD (7-10 years of medical school,  residency, and fellowship)

  • Cost: Many psychiatrists do not accept insurance; however, most out-of-network psychiatrists provide invoices for you to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement, so you may want to check your out-of-network insurance benefits (tips on navigating insurances here).

Nurse Practitioner / Advanced Practice Registered Nurse: Can prescribe medication under the supervision of a medical doctor; some also provide therapy and if they do, they can also be expensive. 

  • Overview: A nurse with a bachelor's degree and a master's degree who has done additional training enabling them to prescribe medication under the supervision of a medical doctor. Most only prescribe medication but some also provide weekly therapy.

  • Education: MA (2-3 years) and additional training

  • Cost: Many nurse practitioners accept insurance and you would pay your copay if the person participated in your insurance network (more on insurances here).

Psychologist: Has a PhD or PsyD; trained in clinical therapy; experts at delivering many types of talk therapy; cannot prescribe medication. 

  • Overview: Psychologists have significant academic and clinical training in talk therapy and mental health assessments such as diagnosing depression, personality disorder, or learning disabilities. They are experts at delivering many types of talk therapy, though they cannot prescribe medications. Psychologists are typically equipped to severe cases, such as psychotic depression, paralyzing OCD, or other life threatening concerns.

  • Education: PhD in psychology (4-7 years) or PsyD (psychology degree; 4-6 years) with often additional training in research or internships in clinical studies. Broadly speaking, PhD is more academic and PsyD is more clinical.

  • Cost: Many psychologists accept insurances. If you find an out-of-network psychologist who you particularly like, check your out-of-network insurance benefits, as most psychologists can provide invoices for you to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement (tips on navigating insurances here).

Social worker: Has a Masters degree in social work and additional training in therapy; can tend to offer more affordable care; cannot prescribe medication. 

  • Overview: Social workers have training in social work and various types of therapies. They provide talk therapy but do not prescribe medications. In addition to clinical therapy, social workers are also trained to help clients manage their environmental situation, such as employment related issues, financial trouble, or any other day-to-day stressors and issues that may be disruptive to the client’s work and social life, and generally speaking, social workers tend to charge less per session, though this is dependent on geography and degree of experience.

  • Education: MA / MSW (masters degree in Social Work) and license in clinical social work

  • Cost: Many social workers accept insurances. If you find an out-of-network social worker who you particularly like, check your out-of-network insurance benefits, as most social workers can provide invoices for you to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement (tips on navigating insurances here). Generally speaking, out-of-pocket sessions with social workers tend to be more affordable than psychologists (although in big cities like NYC, costs can be similar).

Counselor / Marriage and Family Therapist: Has a Masters degree in psychology, counseling, or a related field; can tend to offer more affordable care; cannot prescribe medication.

  • Overview: Licensed mental health counselors, licensed marriage and family therapists and other types of therapists who have a bachelor's degree and then completed a master's level training program with a focus in therapy. Often, they will focus on one type of therapy (for example, marriage and family therapists specialize in working with marriage and family relationship issues). They do not prescribe medications.

  • Education: MA (master's degree in psychology, counseling, or a related field) plus a license (LMHC, LMFT, LPT, NCC, or CAGS)

  • Cost: Many counselors and LMFTs accept insurances. If you find an out-of-network practitioner who you particularly like, check your out-of-network insurance benefits, as most practitioners can provide invoices for you to submit to your insurance company for reimbursement (tips on navigating insurances here). Generally speaking, out-of-pocket sessions with practitioners tend to be more affordable than psychologists (although in big cities like NYC, costs can be similar).