Dear Thriveworks,

I am looking into a Masters Program right now. Do you have any advice on if it would be better to go the Licensed Marriage and Family therapist, or Mental Health Counselor route? I would love the opportunity to work with couples and families although I have other niches that would seem rewarding as well within the counseling realm. Are there any distinctions between the two career paths as far as insurance coverage, financials or certain doors that may or may not be opened. Any guidance you could give would be greatly appreciated! 🙂


Hi Rebecca,

You present a good question– which is the best route to choose, LMHC/LPC (Licensed Mental Health Counselor / Licensed Professional Counselor), or LMFT (Marriage and Family Therapist).
In terms of Reimbursement / Payment for services, they are both, equally, at the very bottom of the licensed behavioral health provider ladder!

It’s true. If you look at the reimbursement rates for insurance companies for behavioral health services, one makes the most if they are an MD (Psychiatrist), second most if they are a Licensed Psychologist, and then the least if they are an MA-level provider. Note: Some insurance companies, such as United Healthcare, offer more money if you are an LICSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker)–an sum between the lowest MA rate (LPC / LMFT rate), and the Licensed Psychologist rate.

In terms of what you can do with the degree, it is (basically) exactly the same. Both LMFTs and LMHCs can provide care to individuals, couples, and families. Both can diagnose and treat mental health issues. Finally, you can find both LMHCs and LMFTs working side-by-side in a variety of settings, from large agencies, to small private practices.

We hope this helps!

Dr. Anthony Centore, and Your Friends at Thriveworks