Many of the acronyms can be confusing. Following is a brief list of acronyms and what they mean.
- D.O. – Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. A Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) is a licensed physician who practices osteopathic medicine. Osteopathic medicine is a complete system of medical care. The philosophy is to treat the whole person, not just the symptoms. It emphasizes the interrelationships of structure and function, and the appreciation of the body’s ability to heal itself.
- M.D. – Medical Doctor. Can have many specialties, like "Psychiatrist" who are trained in a medical model to address mental health challenges. Often manage medications only.
- N.D. – A licensed naturopathic physician (ND) attends a four-year graduate level naturopathic medical school and is educated in all of the same basic sciences as an MD but also studies holistic and nontoxic approaches to therapy with a strong emphasis on disease prevention and optimizing wellness. In addition to a standard medical curriculum, the ND is required to complete four years of training in clinical nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, psychology and counseling (to encourage people to make lifestyle changes in support of their personal health). A naturopathic physician takes rigorous professional board exams so that he or she may be licensed by a state or jurisdiction (only 12 states recognize this licensure at this time) as a primary care general practice physician. (see www.naturalhealers.com for more information).
- Ph.D. – Doctor of Philosophy. Can have many specialties like "Psychologists" who are trained extensively in mental health disorders and who often excel in testing and evaluating to diagnosis challenges, research to seek help for challenges and/or may provide therapy using techniques such as BioFeedback, EMDR and other highly skilled therapeutic interventions. Cannot prescribe medicine.
- LMSW or MSW – Licensed Masters of Social Work or Master of Social Work. These are "Masters Level" therapists whose specialties are social systems. They provide support and guidance to obtain resources for clients and therapeutic interventions. They may provide therapy using techniques such as BioFeedback, EMDR and other highly skilled therapeutic interventions. Cannot prescribe medicine.
- LPC’s, LMFT’s, LBP’s– Licensed Professional Counselors and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists and Licensed Behavioral Practitioners. These are "Masters Level" therapists whose specialties focus more on the individual within the social system. They provide therapeutic intervention and may provide techniques such as BioFeedback, EMDR, PsychoDrama and other highly skilled therapeutic interventions. Cannot prescribe medicine.
- CADC – Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor must have at least a Bachelor’s degree in alcohol and drug counseling, or a related field. In addition, the professional must complete 1000-3000 hours of supervised work experience and pass a licensure exam. In most states, this license level would be a step between an entry level license (Associate’s degree) and a full license (Master’s degree plus 1000 to 3000 additional supervised work hours). Cannot prescribe medicine.
- Network Provider – This is a term used by insurance companies to indicate WHICH of the aforementioned will be covered under their policy. An "in network provider" means that a practitioner is on the insurance company’s list of practitioners that will be covered by their plan.
Every state has a list of practitioners who are licensed that you should be able to find on your state’s Department of Health website.