“Why are you still an intern?” is one of the questions I get asked often during free phone consultations or during the initial session with clients. Being a licensed intern in the mental health field is highly misunderstood to the general public. I am here to educate you on the path that leads someone to becoming a mental health professional and give you three benefits of seeing an intern as opposed to a fully licensed mental health professional.
In the state of Nevada there are three kinds of therapists you are able to see for mental health needs that do not require medication. Here I will break down the acronyms and highlight the differences between each professional.
LCPC/CPC-Intern: This is a Clinical Professional counselor who assists individuals with mental health issues. Some of these professionals can sometimes see families and couples but there are certain requirements for them based on the Nevada State Board of Examiners for Marriage and Family Therapists and Clinical Professional Counselors.
LMFT/MFT-Intern: This is a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern who assists in identifying conflicts within couples and families. You can also see an MFT for individual issues. These professionals mainly see clients in office.
LCSW/CSW-Intern: This is a Clinician Social Worker who also conducts therapy in addition to accessing resources in the community. Most social workers in Nevada can conduct therapy sessions in the client’s home.
All of these professionals require a master’s level degree and during your time in school are required to obtain student internship hours. During my time as a student intern I worked in a non-profit organization where I led grief groups and social skills groups for children on the spectrum or had difficult behavior issues. I also saw clients directly in one-on-one sessions. Depending on the school you attend and the state you choose to practice in there are certain requirement hours. In my case I attended Liberty University Online with additional on campus classes in Virginia, completed my internship in Louisiana, and began practicing in Nevada. So it took me some extra hours and more classes before I became a licensed intern in the state of Nevada.
After graduation you then apply for your post graduate intern hours with your state. This means you go from being a student intern to a licensed intern. You are able to begin your career as a therapist and see clients under supervision. As a state intern you are required to have a board approved supervisor who you see weekly and work under their license. During this time you must accrue 3,000 hours in order to become a licensed professional. The board does not approve by years of practice like medical doctors, but by how many hours you accrue. For some it can go by quickly when working at an agency, and for others it might be slower for those who choose to have a private practice. Depending on your state interns can be approved to work in private practice. Each state is different with how many hours one can accrue, and positions you can hold as an intern. So seeing an intern does not mean you are seeing a less experienced professional but that it is a lengthy process to become fully licensed. Next I will highlight the benefits of seeing a therapist intern.
- We (generally) have a smaller case load
Interns take on smaller case loads when starting out. Which means we have extra time to prepare for sessions with Clients. Sometimes in therapy we need to make arrangements with schools if working with kids, calling psychiatrists for medication management, etc. Which doesn’t take place during the 50 minute session with clients. Many licensed professionals can see as many as 30+ clients which means updates and phone calls won’t be as speedy if you see a fully licensed professional.
- Willingness to ask questions and ask for help
Interns are drawn to the process of gaining knowledge about others, and continue to improve on what they do. Interns acquire additional knowledge and gain new skills due to their supervision requirement. In the state of Nevada interns are required to seek supervision weekly with primary supervisors, and also have an approved secondary supervisor for additional guidance.
- You can receive therapy at a more affordable price and have more availability than a fully licensed Clinician
Interns cost less than fully licensed professionals. Since interns are required to seek supervision weekly from a board approved supervisor you are still getting the same treatment from a fully licensed professional at an intern price. And because they take on a smaller caseload can have more flexibility and more than likely immediate availability.
Hopefully I have given you extra knowledge to understand the qualification differences in the mental health field. If you desire to seek therapy and think I may be a good fit for you go ahead and contact me at email@example.com or 702-907-1606.