Practitioner's Degrees

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Broad Categories of Degrees

In going through any list of TMS practitioners one finds a wide range of degrees and licenses with no clear understanding of what they all mean and how they differ. What is the difference between clinical psychology and counseling psychology? How do Medical Doctors differ from Doctors of Osteopath? Here is a brief overview of some definitions of and differences between degrees and approaches.

Social Work

As people our lives take place in a unique and specific social setting. The science of Sociology is the field in which people study societies, cultures and their collective behavior. However, each person, as an individual, is motivated by a unique mixing of mind and free will. The field of Social Work studies community social functioning as it affected by medical care and mental health. There are several different kinds of licenses and degrees that allow a person to practice social work, and the requirements vary by state. (Source)

Clinical Psychology

In a broad sense Clinical Psychology is concerned with teaching, researching, and treating people with wide variety of mental health disorders. The word clinic derives from the Latin word clinicus, which means a bed-ridden person or a physician who attends to patients sick in bed. Therefore, a clinic is a place where sick patients are treated. So, in a literal sense, Clinical Psychology is concerned with the work of treating "sick" patients (Today, however it is understood that someone with a mental health disorder is not actually "sick in bed"). The influence of Psychoanalysis has led the field of Clinical Psychology to focus on unconscious functioning. Associations with and reactions against psychoanalysis led to the creation of what is now known as psychotherapy. (Source)

Counseling Psychology

The main idea of counseling has been around a long time, as it refers to a person seeking advice and guidance from another person . Unlike Clinical Psychology, counseling is derived from social settings and seeks to help people resolve problems and issues related to work, school, or family matters. The counselor gives direct advice or non-direct guidance to help someone make rational choices. Counseling is mainly concerned with role functioning, choices made, and actions taken, and it tends to focus primarily on present events instead of past events. It also differs from Clinical psychology in that it tends to not focus on unconscious functioning or mental health problems. (Source)


There has been a recent rise in the field of coaching and this has been seen in the treatment of TMS. This relatively new practice focuses on helping people utilize their own abilities more fully. In other words, it seeks to help people "reach their full potential." It tends to help people achieve their personal and business goals, and while some specialized training may be needed there are no specific degrees or licenses required to practice coaching. (Source)

Medical Doctors and Doctors of Osteopath

There are two basic types of medical training: Allopathic and Osteopathic. Traditional medical schools offering graduates an MD degree are Allopathic. Medical schools offering a DO degree are Osteopathic. The curricula of both kinds of schools is nearly identical and state licensing boards and most hospitals recognize the degrees as equivalent. Recent studies have shown that the differences between the two schools is so slight that they are hardly noticed by patients. (Source 1) There are however a few differences in the approach between Medical Doctors and Doctors of Osteopath. Medical Doctors tend to focus primarily on the disease or physical ailment itself, and have a scientific approach to practicing medicine. Osteopathic treatment tends to have a holistic approach and focus on the "whole patient" treating mind-body-spirit. Osteopathy focuses on the primacy of the musculoskeletal system in human health and the utility of osteopathic manipulative treatment. (Source 2) For more information on the differences between these two schools read the Wikipedia page entitled Comparison of MD and DO in the United States.

Individual Degrees

The following is a description of the many types of degrees held by TMS practitioners. There are different requirements for each degree and licensing. It is recommended that consumers research all potential practitioners and validate their degrees and licenses.

DC Doctor of Chiropractic is an academic degree for chiropractic providers. All degrees in chiropractic are considered to be first professional degrees. A DC is considered a "primary health care" provider in the United States and Canada, which means that a patient does not require a referral to seek treatment. The practitioner seeks to diagnose, treat, correct, and prevent neurological, skeletal, or soft tissue dysfunction by primarily employing manual and conservative therapies; the most frequent being spinal and other articular adjustments and manipulations.

Although the U.S. Department of Education lists the D.C.M. (Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine) as a type of degree granted to chiropractors, the degree has never actually been conferred by any academic institution. In terms of TMS treatment a Chiropractor will usually seek a non-surgical solution to pain. (Source)

DO Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine have the same medical school training and licensing requirements as MD's, with an emphasis on the neuromuskuloskeletal system. Some DO psychiatrists perform osteopathic manipulation techniques (OMT) in conjunction with prescribing medication and providing traditional therapy. (Source)

D.O and M.D. physicians have similar training, both requiring four years of training in the basic and clinical sciences and the successful completion of licensing exams (D.O. physicians must pass the COMLEX, while the M.D. physicians must pass the USMLE). D.O. physicians typically train at community hospitals and in more rural areas, while M.D. physicians typically train at more academic medical centers. Osteopathic medical physicians receive training in Osteopathic Manual Manipulation. However, In a recent 2001 study it was found that over half of the survey respondents only use Osteopathic Manipulation Treatment on less than %5 of their patients. The survey was one of many indicators that DO practitioners have become more like MD's and are prescribing more drugs and perform more surgeries. (Source 1) (Source 2)

LCSW The Licensed Clinical Social Worker has a graduate academic degree, has had supervised clinical work experience, and has passed a national- or state-certified licensing exam. This advanced professional can receive health-care insurance reimbursements. (Source)

LCSW-C The Licensed Clinical Social Worker-Clinical has a graduate academic degree, has had supervised clinical work experience, has passed a national- or state-certified licensing exam, and has a higher level of clinical experience than that required by the LCS credential. This advanced professional can receive health-care insurance reimbursements. (Source)

In order to obtain a LCSW degree one must earn a bachelors degree followed by a masters degree in social work. Most states then require an extensive amount of time working under supervision before one can be licensed. Social Workers are trained in the Psychosocial Theory which seeks to meet every client in their situation and use interventions that fit the client. Social Workers are trained to look at the clients overall situation from a variety of angles to determine the most effective interventions first. In terms of TMS treatments this means that a social worker would seek to gain an understanding of a patient's living and working situation. The social worker would attempt to uncover what types of situations or conditions result in a patient's TMS pain, and treat a patient accordingly. (Source)

LISW A Licensed Independent Social Worker has a master's degree in social work accredited by the Council on Social Work Education. This professional has also had supervised clinical work experience and has passed a national- or state-certified licensing exam. This advanced professional can receive health-care insurance reimbursements. (Source)

MFT The Marriage and Family Therapist has a graduate academic degree, earned in two to five years, plus clinical work experience, which can take one to three years. Therapists with an MFT treat a wide range of problems focusing on families and relationships. All states except Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia offer MFT licensing exams. (Source)

LMFT The Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist has a graduate academic degree, clinical work experience, and has passed state-certified licensing exams. Along with a two- to three-year master's programs with a practicum and internship, LMFTs are required to complete clinical training in individual or family therapy. Some states require completion of 3000 hours of service. (Source)

Marriage and family therapists (MFTs) are highly-trained mental health professionals who bring a family-oriented perspective to health care. They evaluate and treat mental and emotional disorders and other health and behavioral problems, and address a wide array of relationship issues within the context of the family system. MFTs believe that individuals and their problems must be seen in context, and that the most important context is the family. In treating TMS most MFT professionals will look at how family and community relationships and situations relate to a patient's TMS pain. (Source)

MA A Master of Arts is a postgraduate academic degree typically based in fine art, humanities, social science, theology, or other liberal arts areas of study. It usually requires two years of study along with a thesis. Many counselors and social workers hold a master's degree, and many Ph.D. psychologists earn a master's "en route" to earning their doctorate degree. MA degrees can vary in scope, however, most TMS practitioners who have MA degrees tend to earn them in psychology, social worker, or counseling. (Source)

MBBS The Bachelors of Medicine, Bachelors of Surgery degrees are the two first professional degrees awarded upon graduation from medical school in medicine and surgery by universities in various countries that follow the tradition of the United Kingdom. The naming suggests that they are two separate degrees; however, in practice, they are usually treated as one and awarded together. (Source)

MD The Doctor of Medicine is the most common degree held by physicians and surgeons. Most MDs who work in mental health are psychiatrists. (Source)

Before graduating from a medical school and achieving the degree of Medical Doctor, most schools require their students to take the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) Step 1 and both the Clinical Knowledge and Clinical Skills parts of Step 2. The MD degree is typically earned in four years. Following the awarding of the MD, physicians who wish to practice in the United States are required to complete at least one internship year (PGY-1) and pass the USMLE Step 3. In order to receive Board Eligible or Board Accredited status in a specialty of medicine such as general surgery or internal medicine, then undergo additional specialized training in the form of a residency. Depending upon the physician's chosen field, residencies and fellowships involve an additional three to eight years of training after obtaining the MD. This can be lengthened with additional research years, which can last one, two, or more years. Unlike therapist, medical doctors tend to focus on scientific explanations of disease and ailments, instead psychological factors. While the majority of the medical community does not recognize TMS, there is a growing number of medical doctors that recognize that TMS pain is caused by psychosomatic disorders. While these doctors may still seek other explanations for a patient's physical pain, a few doctors are aware of TMS treatment practices, and have had tremendous success in treating TMS. (Source)

MSW The Master of Social Work degree typically requires two to four years of study. This professional works with an individual in the context of the wider community, helping those dealing with domestic violence, child abuse, drug abuse, or foster-care issues, among many others. (Source)

PhD The Doctor of Philosophy is an academic degree earned in four to seven years. Many psychologists, therapists, counselors, and coaches hold a doctorate of philosophy. A PhD in psychology emphasizes theory as well as statistics and data gathering. Psychologists with a PhD are also fully trained in the assessment and treatment of all behavioral conditions.

A PhD is a research degree that requires a large amount of original research to be performed by the doctoral candidate. This research consists of writing a dissertation that can be from 50-450 pages. If a TMS practitioner focused his PhD studies on TMS he could very well have completed original research on TMS and how to treat it. (Source)

PsyD The Doctor of Psychology, PsyD, is a professional degree that focuses on the practical application of therapy and counseling. (Source)

An individual who earns a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology from an accredited program may become licensed to diagnose and treat mental disorders, conduct psychological testing and complete psychological evaluations, and provide psychotherapy. In most states, psychologists do not prescribe medications. Like a PhD, the PsyD degree does require the candidate to write a thesis or dissertation of original research. The PhD places a heavy emphasis on research, while the PsyD degrees emphasize clinical applications and interventions. Essentially however, a doctoral-level psychologist is licensed and qualified to perform the same functions whether she or he has a Psy.D. or a Ph.D. (Source)

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