The National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) is behind the testing required for state licensure. In addition to clinical practice that is completed within the educational program and after graduation, the license designates that the counselor is competent in their abilities to evaluate and treat individuals dealing with psychological issues. This license does not, however, establish psychologists or psychiatrists, as they require further education.
Having licensure in a state designates that the professional has gone through a rigorous review process that makes them qualified to practice their counseling techniques with individuals and groups. There is a legal requirement to hold a license if the professional looks to practice psychology or become a social worker. This distinguishes from the generic counseling term, which could refer to a life coach giving advice on topics such as improving health and fitness, as these professionals do not require a license.
What Does It Take To Get This Licensure?
There are seven different states that have the specific credential of a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor:
- California (view California counseling programs)
- Colorado (view Colorado counseling programs)
- Kentucky (view Kentucky counseling programs)
- Minnesota (view Minnesota counseling programs)
- New Mexico (view New Mexico counseling programs)
- North Dakota (view North Dakota counseling programs)
- Ohio (view Ohio counseling programs)
There is no difference between the LPCC and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and it is based on how the states define this advanced standard. There is a difference between this and a standard Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Both of these licenses will give the opportunity to practice in counseling, but the LPCC will give professionals an opportunity for managerial and supervision roles in their organization.
Consider a Featured Online Counseling Program
|School and Program Information||Online Program?|
Master's in Clinical Psychology
No GRE Required
Bachelor's Degree Required
Become a Licensed Professional CounselorLearn More
Complete in 27 months
|University of Denver|
Online MA in School Counseling
Designed to adhere to CACREP standards
✔ Live, online classes
No GRE Required; Minimum GPA 2.5 Required
Earn your degree in as few as 24 monthsLearn More
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
No GRE Required
Earn a Master’s in Applied Behavior AnalysisLearn More
Complete online in as few as 15 months
Master of Arts in Psychology
Open to all undergrad majors
No GRE Required
Earn a Master’s in Psychology Online in 18 MonthsLearn More
*Sponsored Counseling Programs
Online CACREP Accredited programs | Online MPCAC Accredited programs
Education Requirements For This Licensure
There are different academic rules set by states when it comes to gaining licensure to practice counseling. These standards may not be equivalent to the program pursued by a professional, so it is up to the student to determine if both the curriculum and state requirements are compatible. In nearly all cases, programs that have received regional accreditation or designated by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) will have acceptable academic offerings.
Typical course topics for the state may include human growth and development, which is geared more toward children and adolescent guidance and gives counselors the ability to understand what these individuals may experience when maturing. In addition to working with individual patients, counselors should have the skills needed to work with group counseling and the command needed to lead these discussions. They also need to have theory and research methods needed to apply toward a successful treatment program.
For an example of a state that offers the LPCC, California requires 60 semester credit hours, or 90 quarter credit hours, within the curriculum. 15 semester credit hours are needed in advanced clinical coursework, and at least 280 supervised hours of physical meetings with patients. Any alternatives in these requirements must be documented and explained in the application process.
States Takes On Advanced Licensure
States will not require the LPC licensure to receive the advanced licensure, but requirements are similar for both. The Master’s or doctorate degree should be from an accredited institution. Applicants must pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Exam (NCMHCE), which is a more advanced testing measure than the National Counselor Examination that is offered by the NBCC.
Postgraduate clinical supervision is typically needed for licensure. This amount can change based on specific requirements set by the state and how much can be allocated from experience earned before obtaining the degree.
There will be a need to renew this license every two years. States have different rules and deadlines in place for licensees to take action before their license expires. The amount of continuing educational hours needed also varies by state, but generally falls between 20 to 40 hours prior to each renewal.
Top Degree Programs For This Licensure
The Townsend Institute at Concordia University offers the Master of Arts in Counseling with a concentration in Clinical Mental Health. Students can expect to complete the program in a span of two to three years depending on how much time they can dedicate to coursework. Accredited by CACREP, the curriculum will meet the requirements needed for licensure in many states across the country.
60 total credit hours are needed for the completion of the program. In the beginning, students will experience a four-day Kickoff Conference that provides an introduction to the format and what to expect over the coming years. In addition to the core curriculum and clinical practice needed, students will choose two electives to customize their education, with examples including Foundations of Play Therapy, Foundations of Marriage and Family Therapy, and Foundations of Spiritual Formation and Direction.
Over the course of the program, students will be able to analyze their clients by establishing relationships whether on an individual basis or among the group. They determine the best treatment path based on theory and data researched within the program. Treatment modalities explored include cognitive behavioral therapy and psychopharmacology – the latter being the study on the mental effects of drugs.
Requirements for admission include the submission of an application with fee (unless the applicant attended an introductory information night), official transcripts that show proof of a completed Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university with at least a 3.0 GPA, and a two-page written essay where the applicant explains professional goals and personality traits that will help form successful relationships with patients. In addition to an updated resume, at least one professional reference is needed.
University of Denver
The Morgridge College of Education offers a Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. This program is accredited by the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC) and does meet the requirements for state licensure in the state of Colorado. Other states will vary and students will need to review educational requirements in the location they are going to practice.
While the program is not fully offered online, there is a blended format where some courses can be worked on and pursued in a virtual environment and there may be a mixture of online and on-campus meetings. The University of Denver utilizes the Blackboard learning management system for online education. Class sizes remain small for a more intimate learning experience for the student.
72 credit hours are needed to complete the traditional program, and that expands to 90 credit hours for the Clinical Mental Health Counseling specialization. Within this specialization, there is further customization to focus on addictions, marriage and family, and youth counseling. For practicum and internship experience, this can be accomplished in the Denver metropolitan area, but there is limited acceptance for out-of-state students when needed.
Enrollment takes place every fall semester in the second week of September. The college reviews and recommends submissions such as transcripts that show Bachelor’s degree completion, a statement of purpose, GRE scores, and a resume detailing experience in counseling. There are no prerequisites to enter the program, and students do not need to have an educational background in psychology or counseling to be considered.
St. Mary’s University of Minnesota
The Department of Health and Human Services offers a Master of Arts in Counseling and Psychological Services (MACPS). This programs helps students develop a skill set that analyzes human behavior and helps people restore their psychological well being. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, graduates are able to add educational requirements to the curriculum needed to obtain the LPCC in Minnesota.
48 credit hours are required to complete the program, which is estimated to take students around two years. Acceptance into the program takes place in August, January, and May each school year, and students can pursue the degree at the Minneapolis and Rochester campus sites. There is no specific online program available through this university, but there is a blend of on-campus and online course options.
The curriculum is divided up into core courses that offer topics in counseling theory, research methods, and psychology. 15 credit hours are divided up into specific assessment and counseling courses, with additional courses in Social Psychology, Psychophysiology, and Ethics and Professional Issues in Psychology. Two semesters of practicum sessions will give students at least 700 hours of clinical experience, and there is an additional seminar class that is taken along with the practicum.
There is an ability to pursue a dual degree that combines the MACPS with a Graduate Certificate in Addiction Studies. This adds 12 credit hours to the program and gives additional coursework in theory and evidence-based practices within diagnosing addictions and treatment planning. Students have the option to pursue a Doctorate of Psychology in Counseling Psychology and complete this advanced program in a quicker timeframe with an early entry designation.
Steps To Licensure
- Prospective students looking to obtain a Master’s degree within counseling should review if the curriculum will offer the academic requirements set by the state they are receiving the licensure in. It is not the responsibility for the institution to match state licensure, but accreditation generally ensures that the program will meet these requirements.
- Postgraduate experience requirements have additional hours that are needed for supervision and direct contact with clients. In the state of North Dakota, applicants must have completed 700 hours of clinical training and 3,000 hours of work experience. This includes 100 hours of direct clinical supervision post-graduate.
- National examination is mandatory and generally requires the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination. This exam is distributed through the NBCC, which also offers board certifications that professionals may consider to increase job opportunities.
- All fees must be paid in full and proof of academic education, work experience, and passing the national exam is required. In some states, an additional jurisprudence examination may need to be completed, and/or the passing of a background check.
- Licenses will typically expire in two years after being received by the applicant. In the state of North Dakota, there is a requirement of completing 40 hours of continuing education. They must also provide an updated statement of intent describing counseling that is being practiced, and explain any impairments or criminal activity that has taken place if applicable.
Psychological counseling is available at hospitals, school districts, or at agencies that specialize in in these services to help their clients return to a normal mindset and understand the foundation of problems they have faced. Skills are required in reading individuals in a one-on-one session or within group therapy, developing a treatment plan that enforces a better coping strategy and/or working with medical officials capable of providing medicine, and applying theory they have learned in their education.
Marriage and family therapy is a type of specialized clinical counseling that helps solve problems that have developed between partners and family members. This often requires experience in group counseling to determine what the issues are and how to form a treatment plan. In many cases, these counselors will work with other members to help solve issues such as substance abuse, behavioral changes, or new stresses that are being dealt with.
Nearly one-half of marriage and family therapists work in a family service organization or as a health care provider according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Median annual wages on a national scale are approximately $49,610, with those working at the state government level seeing a much higher average ($72,230). As duties continue to grow for these types of counselors, the job position will continue to see growth over the next decade.
Social workers also frequently deal with group counseling and have more of a societal approach to their diagnosing and treatment procedures. This includes helping both communities and individuals that are struggling with localized issues, such as poverty, unemployment, and various discrimination. Social workers have the ability to work with a variety of patients at different age levels, and places include local schools, mental health care facilities, and private practices.