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What is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor?

People who are experiencing mental and emotional distress often seek the guidance of a licensed professional clinical counselor. Sometimes called a “licensed professional counselor” or identified simply by the acronym “LPC.” These mental health professionals provide a valuable service to their communities. Becoming a licensed professional counselor requires considerable time, effort and dedication. However, most people who enter this field find considerable personal satisfaction in their endeavors.

What Does a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor Do?

An LPC may work with individuals, families or groups on a number of mental health issues. This can mean anything from diagnosing depression to treating substance abuse problems. People may seek the help of a licensed professional clinical counselor when they feel that their life is spinning out of control. Perhaps childhood sexual abuse has led them to make unwise life decisions or maybe they are dealing with thoughts of suicide. It is the role of the LPC to get to the root of these issues and to help the individual develop more effective coping strategies.

The LPC will use a number of treatment techniques. They may use psychodynamic or cognitive-behavioral therapy to help people deal more rationally with challenges. They assist clients with stress-reduction techniques and to develop more effective decision-making skills. As healthy coping strategies are developed and past traumas are addressed, clients achieve better emotional balance and greater mental health.

How to Become a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor

A master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling is a requirement for anyone wanting to enter this field. Additionally, graduates must complete approximately 3,000 hours of supervised fieldwork and pass either the National Counselor Examination or the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination. Obtaining a license to practice in the appropriate state is the final step. Maintaining a valid license is mandatory through completing certain continuing education requirements.

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Choose an Accredited Master’s Degree Program

It is essential for the prospective student to choose a master’s degree program that is accredited. The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs defines why finding a program that has been accredited by their organization is so essential. In brief, this is because the program’s curriculum has been reviewed for the quality of instruction it provides. Students can be assured that their academic choice will prepare them for meeting all professional challenges.

Obtaining National Certification

The National Board for Certified Counselors offers a national certification program. While this certification is rarely required, it can be helpful for obtaining state licensure. Obtaining national certification demonstrates that the individual’s knowledge and abilities are in line with recognized professional standards. The professional must then obtain a license for the state in which they hope to practice by taking an exam and paying fees.

Being required to complete a graduate degree and thousands of hours of clinical fieldwork means that it takes considerable time and commitment to become an LPC. However, many people are drawn to this profession because it provides them with an opportunity to have a positive impact on the lives of their clients. They may set up a private practice or be employed by a government agency, social services organization or other mental health care center where the licensed professional clinical counselor provides guidance to those who need it most.

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