Who Is YOUR Therapist?

Dani La Barrie,LCSW,QS,CAP

SFYB Senior Author Dani LaBarrie 

One of the reasons I made the decision to become a consultant was my desire to properly inform treatment center owners and CEOs after witnessing several being misled.

I recently had a conversation with a Clinician who stated that  “a CAP (Certified Addictions Professional) is a higher licensure than any Licensed Clinician.” While all people who work in this field are valuable and helpful to those in need, there are some major differences between each certification/licensure and how DCF and insurance companies view them.

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So I thought why not do the research and inform others of the facts, straight from the Organizations that create the rules? I believe this will help treatment center owners, CEOs, and families make better informed decisions. I encourage you to look into the qualifications and credentials of who you or your loved ones are meeting with regularly for therapy sessions.

Here’s a list of the differences:

Let’s start with the difference between a “CAC” and a “CAP”:

Both of these certifications are provided by the Florida Certification Board (FCB).

Who is the FCB?

The FCB began as a grassroots movement in human services professions. The FCB establishes, administers, and monitors certification programs in addictions, mental health, behavioral health, child welfare, and prevention. The Florida Certification Board is led by a team of nationally recognized experts with vast expertise in certification program development, implementation, and administration. (source:http://flcertificationboard.org)

A person with a CAC holds a certification as an addictions counselor, The CAC requires a minimum of a high school diploma or general equivalency degree and completion of a specified number of Continuing Education Unit (CEU) hours in addiction treatment.

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A CAP is a person who holds a certification as an addictions professional. The CAP requires a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and completion of a lesser number of CEU hours due to the completion of the Bachelor’s Degree. (source:http://flcertificationboard.org)

What does all this mean? A person possessing either holds credentials for assessing, developing, and providing substance abuse treatment services. These two certifications are similar and vary mostly in the education and CEU hours required.

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What is a “Licensed Clinician/Therapist”?

This is a person who is  a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT), a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC), or a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). To attain licensure, one must have a minimum of a master’s degree, years of supervision under a qualified supervisor (I say “years” because the amount of supervision time varies between licenses) and sit for a State of Florida Department of Health exam.

What does all this mean? If someone is licensed they’re holding, at minimum, a master’s degree and have studied a variety of approaches, styles, theories, and behaviors. Licensed clinicians are strongly familiar with mental health disorders; this is significant because as most of us know, there are usually underlying mental health issues that result in drug use (depression, anxiety, anger, sexual abuse, traumatic events, death, grief, loss, etc). A licensed clinician can address these issues and addiction concurrently.

Now, why have I explained all of this?
  • For those of you who plan on opening a treatment center: you must have a licensed clinician to receive payment on insurance authorizations. If for some reason, a client or patient is having suicidal or homicidal ideations, a licensed clinician is able to carry out a Baker Act. If you decide you want to hire an unlicensed clinician, you will end up having to hire a licensed clinician to “sign off” on the unlicensed clinician’s documentation.
  • For loved ones of, and those suffering from addiction: Know your rights! I want to empower clients and families to ask questions; learn about your therapist or counselor. Become familiar with their clinical approaches and style. See if this is in line with what you’re looking for. It is important to have a counselor or therapist you feel you can trust and relate to.  
At the end of the day regardless of what certification or license a person holds, it all comes down to helping the still sick and suffering.

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Dani La Barrie,LCSW,QS,CAP
Chief Executive Officer at Affinity Treatment Solutions, Inc.
Danielle “Dani” La Barrie has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Florida International University. Ms. La Barrie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker as well as a Certified Addictions Professional in the state of Florida. She has worked as a mental health therapist in the Department of Juvenile Justice System in Broward County, as a school-based therapist in the Florida Keys, as an in-home family therapist providing intensive therapy to at-risk youths, and as a clinical director of substance abuse treatment centers.

Danielle has fulfilled the role of clinical director at multiple substance abuse treatment centers that provide partial hospitalization programming with community housing, intensive outpatient, outpatient, and aftercare services. She has significant experience with clients who suffer from substance abuse disorders, mental health disorders, dual diagnoses, personality disorders, addictive behaviors, and codependency. Assisting in other start-up treatment centers, helping to build programs from the ground up, as well as being hired to improve programs that were running inefficiently has provided Danielle the knowledge and skill set to open a treatment center. Allowing her to branch out and utilize what she has learned to do (and not do) in order to have a successful center that also assists clients in being the best they can be. Let me help you today!
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