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Licensed professional counselor (LPC) is a licensure for mental health professionals. In U.S., the exact title varies by state, but the other most frequently used title is licensed mental health counselor (LMHC). Several U.S. states, including Illinois, Maine, and Tennessee, have implemented a two-tier system whereby both the LPC and LMHC (or equivalent) are used. In those states higher tier professionals are granted the privilege to practice independently. However in most states LPC's or LMHC's may practice independently. Licensed Professional Counselors are one of the six types of licensed mental health professionals who provide psychotherapy in the United States.
In the United States, licensure as a licensed professional counselor occurs at the state level and requires a master's degree in counseling or a related field. In addition to their education, LPCs must obtain supervised clinical experience and must pass a state licensing exam. Different states require one of several different licensing examinations. Examples are the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE) as well as the National Certified Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE). LPCs are regulated by federal and state laws, which either protect the title of LPC or LMHC or actually define the scope of practice of a professional counselor and stipulate certain client protections. If an LPC is also a member of a professional association or has received additional certifications, they must adhere to the codes of ethics of the professional association or certification body with which they have aligned.
Requirements for professional counselors
LPC (or variation, e.g. LCPC, LMHC, etc.) licensure is recognized in 50 states in the United States, as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. The requirements vary from one jurisdiction to the next. Please review the National Board for Certified Counselors website for your state or jurisdiction's information:
Included below is a summary of requirements found in the state of Texas LPC board as an example. (Your state or jurisdiction's website will look different)
"A master's degree or doctoral degree in counseling or a related field.
- Academic course work in each of the following areas: normal human growth and development; abnormal human behavior; appraisal or assessment techniques; counseling theories; counseling methods or techniques (individual and group); research; lifestyle and career development; social, cultural and family issues; and professional orientation.
- As part of the graduate program, a supervised practicum experience that is primarily counseling in nature. The practicum should be at least 300 clock-hours with at least 100 clock-hours of direct client contact. Academic credit for the practicum must appear on the applicant's transcript.
- After completion of the graduate degree and before application, an applicant must take and pass the National Counselor Exam and the Texas Jurisprudence Exam. After receiving a temporary LPC license from the board, the applicant may begin the supervised post-graduate counseling experience (internship). 3000 clock-hours with at least 1,500 being direct client contact of internship under the supervision of a board-approved supervisor is required. The 3000 clock-hours may not be completed in a time period of less than 18 months."
Clock hours and contact hours with clients needed to obtain licensure vary by state. Other states, Oklahoma for example, require a 60-hour degree (versus the traditional 48-hour degree), and mandate at least 300 hours of internship prior to graduation OK Dept of Health
The model of the LPC is based on the United States model for the regulation of professions. Each state is granted the privilege to regulate who may practice a particular profession and what the rights and responsibilities associated with that profession are. In most other countries, the Ministry of Education provides the authority to universities to grant licensure or a licenciatura upon completion of university studies. In these European-based regulation models, a license is granted for perpetuity and does not require renewal as is typical in the United States.
In the Canadian province of Quebec, the Ordre des conseillers et conseilleres d'orientation et psychoeducateurs et psychoeducatrices du Quebec (OCCOPPQ) grants counselor licensure. The Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association, CCPA offers a distinct certification, Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCC) which is distinctly separate from the regular professional membership.
The Ministry of Labor and Human Resources grants counselor licensure.
In Malaysia, Lembaga Kaunselor Malaysia, grants counselor licensure.