A license to practice in the mental health field indicates that the
state of Alaska has verified that a practitioner has completed a
professional training program, has completed a period of supervised
experience, and has passed a formal examination in their specific
profession. While a license is not a guarantee that the
practitioner is ethical and competent, it does increase the likelihood
that they are, requires continuing professional education, and provides
some oversight to the professional's practice. In Alaska a person can
offer services that resemble counseling without a license, but not
psychotherapy and cannot use the title "Psychotherapist" or
Listed below are the primary licenses for mental health practice.
These are brief summaries of the requirements involved. The actual
statutes that specify the requirements are quite complex and can be
Doctoral Level Licenses
Licensed Psychologist (Ph.D., Psy.D., or
Psychologists complete a master's degree then a doctoral degree in
clinical, counseling, school, or industrial/organizational psychology,
one year of pre-degree and one year of post-degree supervised experience, and pass a psychologistís
licensing examination. Psychologists' training emphasize
understanding thought, emotion, and behavior, psychotherapy,
psychological testing, and research.
Psychiatrist (M.D. or D.O.)
Psychiatrists first become licensed medical doctors. Additionally, they must complete a three-year
residency program in psychiatric
medicine. Psychiatrists' training emphasizes the biological basis
of thought, emotion, and behavior. Psychiatrists can prescribe
medication. In recent years, psychiatrists have moved more towards
working more with medication than psychotherapy, though many
psychiatrists still offer psychotherapy along with medication services.
Masters Level Licenses
Advanced Nurse Practitioner (A.N.P.)
Advanced Nurse Practitioners complete a
two-year masterís degree in nursing, complete a supervised clinical and
psychotherapy training internship as part of the degree program, and pass a
certifying examination. Not all advanced nurse practitioners have
psychiatric training. Most psychiatric advanced nurse
practitioners offer both psychotherapy and medication services.
Licensed Psychological Associate (L.P.A.)
Associates complete a two-year master's degree in clinical or counseling
psychology (M.A. or M.S.), two years of supervised post-degree
experience, and pass a psychological associate's licensing examination.
Licensed Professional Counselor (L.P.C.)
Licensed Professional Counselors complete a two-year masterís degree in
counseling or clinical psychology (M.A. or M.S.), two years of supervised post-degree experience, and pass a
written professional counselorís examination.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker (L.C.S.W.)
Clinical Social Workers complete a two-year
masterís degree in social work (M.S.W.), two
years of supervised post-degree experience, and pass a written social
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (L.M.F.T.)
Marriage and Family Therapists complete a two year
masterís degree (M.A. or M.S.) with emphasis in family therapy,
years of supervised post-degree experience, and pass a marriage and
family therapist examination. While their training specializes in
marriage and family therapy, they may also be qualified as individual
therapists, and psychotherapists with other licenses may be qualified to
conduct marriage and family therapy.