What is the difference between an Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist?
“By the book”…education and perspective.
“By the book”, an LPC’s education and perspective (or focus) is mainly on the individual. The focus is on the wants and needs of the individual sitting in the chair in front of them. What does that one individual want? What does that one individual need? By the book, an LPC’s education’s main focus is the individual. Our society emphasizes individualism. That is good. That is fine. I have no problem with that as long as the therapist understands no one is an island.
We live in a complicated society which involves other people. The client came to be where they are due to multiple factors in society including family, friends, educational institutions, religious groups, so on and so forth. This is what Marriage and Family Therapists emphasizes. Not to say that an LPC cannot. However, Marriage and Family Therapists get extra schooling which stresses “Family Systems”.
A Marriage and Family Therapist’s education and perspective takes into account these reciprocal and interactive factors. An LMFT will take extra classes to learn about these reciprocal interactive factors involved in the client’s world. Then the LMFT must pass through the Associate phase of supervision and practice counseling with a “Family Systems” supervisor. Furthermore, they pass the MFT board requirements before obtaining their full licensure.
An “individual” may want emancipation, for example. A therapist can help with that. However, if that emancipation alienates that person from family, friends, alliances, and other support systems…is that really helping? If that person becomes emancipated but is unable to support him or herself, is that really helping? A Marriage and Family Therapist will help the client understand these reciprocal interactive factors.
So… an LMFT may help the person consider the social systems that are involved. The LMFT my encourage the individual to negotiate with family and friends to resolve tangled issues while also encouraging the individual to learn ways to value him or her self; work within the culture or system; or perhaps help the client to find new social support while the client is working on goals.
A therapist is not required to obtain their MFT licensure. They can practice with an LPC. An LPC may see couples. However, please be aware, only a LMFT may call themselves a Marriage and Family Therapist. They have earned it. Next time well talk about costs.