Whats the Difference Between an Intern, Pre-licensed Therapist and Licensed Therapist?
“Intern therapists” are students at the Masters or Doctoral level who are earning hours towards licensure. They have gained all of the “book knowledge” but are learning to put it into practice as a clinician. They are supervised both at their internship site (where they do therapy) and at their university.
Obviously, intern therapists are “green” as they are new to the field, and their fees are significantly lower than the average licensed therapist.
“Pre-licensed therapists” have graduated from either their Masters or Doctoral programs but have not yet met the state requirements to possess a professional license. They have graduated from college and completed therapy internships. They continue to meet with a clinical supervisor. These clinicians will cost a bit more than interns. They may have 3-4 years of experience doing therapy and may already specialize in one area or another.
Licensed clinicians (i.e. Psychologists, Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Clinical Social Workers) have met ALL of the state requirements to hold and maintain a professional license. The process of getting licensed takes a lot of education and follow-through. There are state exams, several years of fieldwork, recommendation letters, etc. so you can rest assured that these therapists have earned their credentials! You will certainly find licensed therapists with niches and specialties, whereas pre-licensed clinicians are more likely to be working to find their “treatment of choice” and “best fit” client. If you see a licensed clinician, your wallet will probably know the difference. They are almost always more expensive than their unlicensed colleagues, but you will likely notice the difference that experience brings.