What All Those Letters After My Name Actually Mean
All of these abbreviations can be confusing, so please take a moment to read over the descriptions for each one, in addition to other terms and titles commonly used in the mental health field.
M.Ed.: Master of Education. This just signifies that I completed a master's degree, and the actual course of study was in counseling. So the full name of my degree is: Master of Education in Counseling. Many people wonder why one would get this kind of degree as opposed to one in psychology. The answer is very simple: I sought out the graduate program that consisted of the most classes pertinent to providing psychotherapy. I reviewed curriculum for a few graduate programs in psychology, but none of them provided as many classes directly related to the actual practical use and application of therapeutic services.
L.P.C.: Licensed Professional Counselor. In order to become a L.P.C., one must graduate from a master's program in counseling or psychology which meets certain standards (or a program with a very similar curriculum), pass the N.C.E. (National Counselor Exam), and complete 3,000 hours of using a temporary license and practicing under the supervision of a L.P.C.-Supervisor (a therapist who has been fully licensed for at least five years and has taken additional courses). It is your right as a client to verify your therapist's credentials. You can verify mine by clicking here and putting in my license number: 73528
R.Y.T. 200: Registered Yoga Teacher - 200-Hour. This means I completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training program that is registered with, and meets the standards of, Yoga Alliance. There currently are not laws about who is allowed to teach yoga, and some teachers have not completed a full program. There are many different kinds of yoga schools, with different philosophies and practices. Some schools focus strictly on the physical aspect of yoga. This designation signifies that I not only completed a verifiably well-rounded program, but that I then chose to become a member of Yoga Alliance, register my hours, and will be held to certain standards. To continue being a R.Y.T., I am required to complete continuing education in yoga periodically. My training was in Integrative Yoga Therapy, which takes into account the historical, philosophical, spiritual, emotional, and physical ways yoga can be studied and used to help people heal and grow.
What I Am Not
Psychologist: In the U.S., this particular credential can only be used by someone who has completed a doctorate degree in psychology, in addition to other requirements. This can be very confusing, especially for many people from other countries where "psychologist" refers to any psychotherapist at the master's, or even bachelor's, level. There are many kinds of psychologists (counseling, forensic, clinical, etc.), and the studies and day-to-day careers of psychologists can vary greatly depending on the specialization and training.
Psychiatrist: This is a medical doctor who has completed specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues. It is necessary to see a psychiatrist if someone has a mental health disorder which requires medication, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.