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What are the differences between LPC's, LCSW's, Residents, Supervisees, and Interns?

Distinguishing Between Mental Health Professionals

Written by Enoch Hananiah Bullock, Counseling Intern, and Grecia Cardenas, Social Work Intern

While the titles given to mental health professionals are often used interchangeably, there are differences between the professions that many are unaware of. Understanding these differences can help individuals make an informed decision when seeking support.

The shared goal of each of these categories of counselor is to assist individuals, couples, and families in the dynamic process of overcoming mental health challenges using a variety of interventions and treatment modalities. So, how do they differ?


What is a Practicum Student or Intern?

Interns may be in different stages of their education. A practicum student is a first-year master’s student working in a clinical setting for the first time. The student will be conducting individual sessions as well as shadowing a more experienced clinician. Practicum students receive supervision and mentoring from a therapist who is fully licensed. These students cannot bill for insurance but may provide services for a reduced out-of-pocket fee. Using an intern can make quality therapy more accessible.

On our team at RVA Counseling, we have both counseling and social work interns. The difference between them is the degree that they are pursuing. An intern is a master's level student working on the practical application of counseling skills.. Social Work Interns conduct individual and group counseling through the supervision of a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW). Part of the role of a Social Work Intern is to partake in supervision, conduct intakes, assessments and engage in treatment planning. When interns complete their masters programs, they apply with their respective licensing boards for the status of Resident in Counseling or Supervisee in Social Work.


What is a Resident in Counseling?

A Resident in Counseling has obtained a counseling-relevant master’s degree and is currently pursuing full licensure as a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). As with interns and practicum students, residents also receive weekly clinical supervision and support from a fully licensed LPC. Once they have met their requirements for licensure, they will submit all of their required documentation and apply for their status as an LPC.


What is a Supervisee in Social Work?

Supervisees in Social Work have completed their Master of Social Work (MSW) and are working towards Virginia’s requirements for licensure as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. During their residency, supervisees work to meet the required number of direct and indirect client hours, hours of supervision, and a passing score on a licensure exam. Supervisees meet weekly for their clinical supervision provided by a Licensed Clinical Social Worker where they discuss case conceptualization, learn how to properly apply interventions, and discuss their overall development as clinical social work professionals.


What is a Licensed Professional Counselor?

Licensed Professional Counselors or LPCs are, at minimum, master’s level mental health service providers, who work with individuals, families, and couples. They practice under the ethical guidelines of the American Counseling Association (ACA).

A LPC’s scope of practice is wide and involves the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders, psychoeducation techniques, consultation, and research into effective treatment modalities. LPCs often see a variety of individuals from various sociocultural backgrounds and are trained to be aware of multicultural issues. LPCs have finished their master's or doctorate level education and have fulfilled two years of residency training followed by a licensure test.

LPCs may bill for services with all major insurance carriers. The only exception is that, at this time, LPCs are unable to bill Medicare plans.


What is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)?

Social workers are in many settings and provide a range of services.. The National Association of Social Workers (NASW) recognizes 16 areas of social work, amongst the social workers within those areas are Licensed clinical social workers. LCSWs are social worker professionals who have earned their Master’s degree and completed 100 hours of supervision, and have attained licensure through the national licensure exam. They practice under the ethical guidelines of the National Association of Social Work. LCSWs practice with clients in a large variety of settings and capacities where they advocate, research, and provide accessible resources.

In clinical settings, such as the counseling office, They assist their clients by listening and providing \them with the support and resources they need. In a clinical setting, Licensed Clinical Social Workers provide therapy or counseling services for anyone experiencing psychological or social health problems. When working with clients, a LCSW will incorporate different clinical theories, some which may include: social learning, psychosocial development, psychodynamic, psychoeducation, etc.. Tasks within the role of LCSW, may include conducting assessments, diagnosis, referrals, and treatment plans for mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders.

LCSWs can bill all major insurances as independent clinicians and mental health service providers. Aside from facilitating therapy, LCSWs strive to make a positive change and impact on the lives in lives of individuals as well as providing them with guidance to reach their goals. They serve their clients with considerations of social justice in mind and a particular sensitivity to how people are influenced by the world around them. We hope to expand our resources to a level where clients can receive mental health services and any additional support.


I hope this information can be used to help you find the best fit for your journey in therapy! If you have any further questions about these categories, please contact our main office. We look forward to fitting you with the best option for you!

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