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Pre-Licensed versus Licensed- What does it all mean?

There are so many names and letters involved in finding a quality clinician that will fit your needs. This can become increasingly confusing as licensure regulations change from state to state. A Licensed Social Worker in PA may have very different education and licensure then one in Texas, California or even Ohio. We will try to give you a summary here of what goes into becoming a Licensed Therapist and the benefits of working with clinicians who are actively working along that path but have not quite got there yet.

In Pennsylvania, to become a “Fully Licensed Therapist” and start to add the alphabet of anacronyms to the end their name, each clinician must first go through a minimum of 2 years and 3000 hours of supervised clinical experience. While doing this they typically spend 2 hours each week in supervision under the direction of a seasoned clinician who is helping to guide them and grow their skills and experience. Which essentially means that when you are seeing a Pre-Licensed therapist you are getting all the benefits of two therapists in one. Every therapist that labels themselves as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Professional Counselor or Marriage and Family Therapist in PA, must first undergo this same period of supervision.

Why see a pre-licensed therapist? 

When seeing a Pre-Licensed therapist, you are gaining in so many ways! These therapists are actively seeking to expand their knowledge base and are often more open to educational opportunities, learning new approaches, and are more up to date on the newest research then those that have been in the field longer and who may have already shaped themselves around specific techniques or treatment styles.

At Angelus if you are seeing a Pre-Licensed Therapist, know that we are very selective in our hiring process and work extremely closely with each clinician to ensure their development and the quality of the treatment that they are delivering. Not all insurances will reimburse for Pre-Licensed therapists, so it is important to talk with our intake coordinator to assess if a pre-licensed clinician is the best fit for you. We set the private pay per session rates for a pre-licensed therapist significantly lower then our seasoned and licensed therapists. This can mean significant financial savings when looking at the long-term costs of seeking treatment. We have found that many people will opt to see a pre-licensed clinician who is not paneled with their insurance company because the per session rate can be lower than the copay or cost of counseling using their high deductible plans.


  • Lower Costs
  • Greater Schedule Flexibility
  • Freshest Training
  • High Energy & Commitment
  • Better Connection with Younger Clients
Lower Costs

When seeking counseling you will often find that pre-licensed therapists have conveniently lower rates than their fully licensed counterparts. At times, the cost of seeing a pre-licensed therapist and paying out of pocket can be lower than what your copay would be if using your health insurance. Making it a great option for individuals with high deductible insurance plans.

Greater Schedule Flexibility

Pre-licensed therapists often have more open spaces available in their schedule, which can be convenient since licensed therapists with preexisting long-term clients often cannot guarantee when they will next have new spaces available. Often having waitlists that can last for months. Which can be frustrating when you need the counseling and support now.

High Energy & Commitment

Pre-licensed therapists often have a fresh outlook, unique perspectives, and are full of energy and motivation to use their training and experiences to support and enhance the lives of their clients.

Better Connection with Younger Clients

Younger Clinicians can often connect more with children and teens who are more hesitant to start counseling. When kids are coming into counseling for the first time, they can be very reserved and resistant, envisioning a middle aged therapist with a stiff posture and having no interest in the process at all. When they find a clinician who is in the beginning part of their therapist journey, they can often let down their guard and feel more able to connect with them, seeing them as a peer rather then the skilled clinician they are. And with some teens that is a golden opportunity!

Meet Our Pre-Licensed Therapist:

Danielle is working towards becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor but she comes to Angelus with a wealth of experience!

Danielle has been a high school English teacher for the last 9 years while also completing 2 Masters programs; one in Counseling Education and another in Clinical Mental Health Counseling!

She is very passionate about helping teens work their way through anxiety and trauma and learn to grow their whole selves. If you are interested in working with Danielle learn more here.