What Do the Initials Mean After a Physical Therapist’s Name?

May 23, 2022

As healthcare professionals, physical therapists can specialize in one or several specific field disciplines. As you search for a physical therapist, you may wonder what all the initials are after the provider’s name.
Not only do different initials represent dramatically different titles and accomplishments, but they also span a wide array of professional relevance to the field of physical therapy.

Physical Therapist

The initials “PT” stand for a physical therapist. Every PT, regardless of their degree, holds the designation of PT. A physical therapist should be skilled in helping you avoid surgery, eliminate prescription drugs, optimize your mobility, manage pain and chronic conditions, and improve your physical function, fitness, and quality of life.

Doctor of Physical Therapy

A physical therapist who has obtained their Doctorate of Physical Therapy will hold a DPT credential. This means they completed a clinical program from an accredited university and passed their board of certification examination. As of 2020, all physical therapy programs must be doctorate programs.

Physical therapist using manual therapy to treat knee injury.

Additional Certifications

Physical therapists can specialize in different therapeutic areas to meet their patient’s needs. Additional credentialing is a valuable tool for professional growth and standing out as a leader in a rapidly growing discipline. Per the American Physical Therapy Association, the remaining order of titles or letter designations describe educational levels, other earned degrees, specialist certifications, or other professional certifications that may or may not be related to the licensed practice of physical therapy.

Below is a list of certification abbreviations and their matching titles. The credentials in bold are more common in some of our outpatient physical therapy clinics within our Foothills clinics.

  • AET – Advanced Exercise Therapist
  • ART – Active Release Techniques
  • ATC – Athletic Trainer, Certified (multiple locations)
  • BSPT – Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy
  • CCI – Certified Clinical Instructor (all locations)
  • CCS – Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Certified Specialist ***
  • CAFS – Certification in Applied Functional Science®
  • CAPP-OB – Certificate of Achievement in Pregnancy and Postpartum Physical Therapy
  • CAPP-Pelvic – Certificate of Achievement in Pelvic Physical Therapy
  • CCVT/CVT – Certified Clinical Vestibular Therapist/ Clinical Vestibular Therapist
  • CCTT – Certified Cervical & Temporomandibular Therapist (Old Town Scottsdale location)
  • CFC – Cranio-Mandibular Head, Neck, and Facial Pain
  • CEAS I, CEAS II – Certified Ergonomic Assessment Specialist
  • CEES – Certified Ergonomic Evaluator Specialist
  • CFCE – Certified Functional Capacity Evaluator (also FCE: Functional Capacity Evaluator)
  • CFMT – Certified Functional Manual Therapist
  • CHT – Certified Hand Therapist (multiple locations as well as some ProActive locations)
  • CKTP -Certified Kinesio Taping Practitioner (multiple locations)
  • CLT – Certified Lymphedema Therapist (Also known as CLT-LANA)
  • COMT – Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist (multiple locations)
  • CPT – Certified Personal Trainer or Certified Pilates Teacher
  • CREX – Certification in Rehabilitative Exercise
  • CSCS – Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (multiple locations)
  • CST – Craniosacral Therapist/Therapy, CST-D – Craniosacral Therapy Diplomate
  • CYI – Certified Yoga Instructor
  • CYT – Certified Yoga Therapist
  • CWCA™ – Certified Wound Care Associate
  • CWCE – Certified Work Capacity Evaluator
  • CWS® – Certified Wound Specialist
  • DMT – Doctor of Manual Therapy
  • DWC® – Diabetic Wound Certified
  • DPT – Doctor of Physical Therapy (all locations)
  • ECS – Clinical Electrophysiologic Certified Specialist ***
  • FAAOMPT – Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists
  • FAFS – Fellow of Applied Functional Science®
  • FCE – Functional Capacity Evaluator: see CFCE (Certified Functional Capacity Evaluator)
  • FOC – Functional Orthopedic Certification
  • GCFP – Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner
  • GCS – Geriatric Certified Specialist ***
  • HHP – Holistic Health Practitioner
  • JSCC – Jones Strain Counter-Strain Certified
  • LLE® – Lymphedema Lower Extremity Certified
  • LMT – Licensed Massage Therapist
  • MDT – Diploma in Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy®
  • MLD – Manual Lymph Drainage
  • MPT/MSPT – Master of Physical Therapy (all locations)
  • MTC – Manual Therapy Certified (several locations)
  • NCS – Neurologic Certified Specialist ***
  • NDT – Neuro-Developmental Treatment Certified
  • OCS – Orthopedic Certified Specialist *** (several locations)
  • OT/OTR/OTReg/OTR/L – Occupational Therapist/Registered/Licensed (ProActive locations)
  • PAS – Postural Alignment Specialist (several locations)
  • PCS – Pediatric Certified Specialist ***
  • PRC/PRT – Postural Restoration Certified/Trained
  • SCS – Sports Certified Specialist ***
  • WCC® – Wound Care Certified
  • WCS – Women’s Certified Specialist ***

*** – Designates the certifications regulated by the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA)

American Board of Physical Therapy Specialist

OCS, NSC, SCS, PCS, WCS, ECS, GCS, and CCS are credentials administered by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialists, a division of the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Their own boards govern the rest through other educational platforms. For example, let’s take Foothills clinic director and physical therapist Joel Kramer, PT, DPT, OCS, CKTP, CSCS. His credentials designate Joel as a licensed physical therapist with a doctoral level of education, an orthopedic clinical specialist, a certified Kinesio taping practitioner, and a certified strength and conditioning Specialist.

Not all initials are equal in education or training. Ask your local physical therapy clinic to clarify any questions you may have as a physical therapy patient. If you’re searching for a physical therapist in the Phoenix Valley that has specialized certifications to help you, contact our Foothills Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy team.

Clint Borman

by Clint Borman
PT, DPT, MTC, CSCS | Residency Faculty and Clinical Site Director at the Surprise Location

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