What Is A Licensed Professional Counselor?

Updated: Aug 26, 2020

What IS a Licensed Professional Counselor? That’s a question I get a lot. According to the American Counseling Association:

Professional counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals. Counselors work with clients on strategies to overcome obstacles and personal challenges that they are facing.”

Professional counselors possess at least a Master’s Degree in counseling, along with a national board certification, and a state license. In New Jersey, that means completing a 60-credit graduate program in counseling, including 720 hours of practicum/internship, followed by 4,500 supervised, clinical hours in their chosen specialty before they can apply for state licensure. After licensing, most counselors continue to seek supervision with an experienced counselor in their specialty, and must complete 40 continuing education credits each two years to renew their licenses. When someone has the initials LPC (in NJ - in other states it might be LMHC or LCMHC) after their name, you can trust that they have spent years studying and preparing to help you achieve your mental health, wellness, educational and professional goals.

Most professional counselors belong to professional associations, such as the American Counseling Association, American Mental Health Counseling Association, and NJ Counseling Association, and attend annual conferences with these associations which help them to stay abreast of advancements in their field, get help with professional and ethical questions that have arisen for them in their practice of counseling, and continue to expand their education.

Most counselors choose 2-3 specialty focuses for their practice, such as anxiety and stress, depression and grief, mood disorders, marriage and family, adoption/attachment, creative (Art, Music, Play therapies), child and adolescent, older adult and aging, LGBTQ++, and many others. This enables counselors to focus their continuing education on the areas that most interest them so they can truly become specialists in their field.

What questions do you have about professional counseling/counselors? Send me a message and I would be happy to answer.

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