Mental Health Licensure, Degrees, Certifications, Registration and Academies: A Description Of Credentials
Revised: February 21, 2007
Understanding the meaning and value of a licensure, certification, academies and registration can be difficult. To most people, these terms are used by practitioners to represent their qualifications. Many people, including some practitioners, do not understand what these terms and the letters after a professional name mean. The following will hopefully begin to clarify these issues.
In the most general terms, graduation from a degree program assures minimal to excellent level of academic training and possibly clinical training that may be associated with a supervised clinical practicum or internship. Greater education can make a difference, but education alone is not adequate. Certifications provide some assurance that a professional has participated in an examination and may include lecture, study, practice and supervision. However, certification is only as good as the certifying organization and the quality of certifying organizations can range from excellent to poor. Registration as a therapist, counselor, Hypnotherapist or professional, etc.. is less meaningful than licensure and certification and does not really predict competence or the quality of care you will receive. Academies are an interesting phenomena. A professional's membership in an academy does not predict the quality of care you might receive. The effect on treatment outcomes has not been established. Offering certifications, registration and membership status in academies and professional organizations is the primary way for these organizations to make money, fulfill the organization's mission and to protect the public.
The State of Oregon licenses mental health professionals such as counselors, psychologists, social workers, psychiatric nurse practitioners and psychiatrists to practice in health care. Further information is available from the specific State Boards that are responsible for regulating practice.