Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) Licensure

Licensed professional counselors (LPCs)--also known as "licensed clinical professional counselors" or "licensed mental health counselors"--provide a wide range of mental health services to millions of Americans each year.

There are more than 120,000 licensed professional counselors in the United States. In fact, most of the workers in public mental health centers, agencies, and organizations are LPCs. These professionals are trained to treat a wide range of emotional and behavioral problems. They work with the individuals directly afflicted with these problems, but also with their families and the community at large. They may work in substance abuse clinics, for example, or they may offer counseling to military personnel--active duty and veterans--as well as to their families. Other LPCs focus more on research, and try to improve our current methods of treatment, therapy, and counseling.

LPC Licensing Requirements

LPCs are typically required to hold a master's or doctorate degree in counseling from an accredited psychology program. These programs should offer classroom instruction as well as hands-on training in professional counseling strategies, human development and behavior, substance abuse disorders, and ethical practice. Students should also be trained in the application of cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, and psychodynamic therapy.

In addition to obtaining their degree, LPCs must undergo a post-master's residency program or internship, amounting to a minimum of 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience. LPCs must also take continuing education classes throughout their career in order to maintain their license.

Once the aspiring LPC has earned his or her degree and completed the residency program/internship, he or she must then pass the National Counselor Examination (NCE) or equivalent state competency exam.

LPCs must accept and adhere to the state licensing board's Code of Ethics throughout their career, or risk revocation of their license.

Licensing requirements vary from state to state. It's your responsibility to know the requirements for your particular situation. To find out the exact requirements for your state, contact your state professional counselor licensure board.

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