28 June 2009

What is up with the alphabet soup?!!!

Dear Readers~

Greetings! I hope you are enjoying the gifts that summer has to offer you - no matter where you are or how much money you have to spend. Consider a vacation in your backyard or front steps and enjoy a refreshing glass of herbal iced tea or a fresh slice of watermelon!

Now, on to the topic at hand: ALPHABET SOUP!

Why is it that everyone in the medical field has all of those letters scrawled after their names? What are they - what do they mean - and why do they exist? Great questions - and to be an informed consumer - you need to know the answers!

What are they? The letters behind a professional's name are credentials. Credentials are short-hand abbreviations for specific licenses or certifications/registrations that the professional has earned/obtained. These range from M.D. for Medical Doctor - to LPN, for Licensed Practical Nurse - to CPA, for Certified Public Accountant (who you would not go to for medical help!)

Why do they exist? Credentialing and professional registry offers the consumer information. That is - each credential has required, specific and specialized training that the practitioner must complete in order to use the credentials (in most cases). Most commonly, these requirements have numerous components which may include: educational requirements, testing procedures, and a monetary commitment on the part of the individual being certified/credentialed. *Note here the difference between being a PROFESSIONAL MEMBER of an organization and being CREDENTIALED by a professional organization.

What do they mean? This is the tricky part - each abbreviation means something different - and there are both private and governmental credentialing bodies. Generally in the United States, LICENSES are legally overseen by STATE Governments - and if you are utilizing medical or mental health services - you want to make sure that your provider has the necessary license to practice (also true for any professional service such as plumbing or electrical work). Not all professions require a license - but many do and by using licensed professionals, you as a consumer are assured that the provider has met MINIMAL COMPETENCY EVALUATIONS and can easily learn whether the provider has any MALPRACTICE COMPLAINTS against him or her (by searching online for the state's professional license verification page).

In dance therapy, you will see a range of credentials that may vary from provider to provider - greatly due to state availability of licensure for Dance/Movement Therapists and other creative arts therapists. However, the American Dance Therapy Association oversees the credentialing of professional Dance/Movement Therapists and offers two levels of registry (soon to become Board Certification –stay tuned for more). They are as follows:
* DTR: Dance Therapist Registered. This is the entry-level credential for Master's-level Dance Therapists. The DTR allows dance therapists to perform assessments/evaluations and provide dance therapy services and interventions as part of a TREATMENT TEAM in a clinical, educational or rehabilitative setting. DTRs work intra-dependently with other professionals and require supervision from an ADTR.
* ADTR: stands for Academy of Dance Therapists Registered and is an advanced-level of credentialing for the Dance/Movement Therapist. This level of credentialing indicates to the public that the Clinician is approved to teach, supervise, and provide services independently.

As noted in previous posts, many DMTs are also licensed as Mental Health Counselors. These licenses and the corresponding credential abbreviations differ by state; some examples include: LCMHC, LMHC, or LPC.

There are many other certifications and specializations that Dance/Movement Therapists may carry - so the best thing to do as a consumer is to ASK! You have the right to know the training and expertise of your providers, so don't hesitate to ask what all that mumbo-jumbo alphabet soup really means! If your provider doesn’t answer all your questions - I encourage you to utilize the web to research credentialing and licensure!

Here’s to your health!

No comments: