Schools for Aspiring Licensed Professional Counselors: How to Choose
Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs), sometimes known as known as Licensed Mental Health Counselors (LMHCs) or Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCCs), are mental health specialists who are qualified to practice independently in most states. LPCs might work with hospitals or community heath organizations or in private practice. A master's degree program in counseling can prepare students to become Licensed Professional Counselors.
How to Select a School for a Licensed Professional Counseling Career
State licensure requirements for LPCs vary, but typically include completion of at least a master's degree in counseling. Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Science (M.S.) programs in this field tend to be similar in scope. However, while most M.A. programs are geared toward those who want to enter counseling careers, some M.S. programs are intended for students who plan to pursue a doctoral program, leading to a career in research or program evaluation.
Students also might want to consider a counseling program's available concentrations, such as career counseling, child and adolescent therapy, Christian counseling, clinical mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy or school counseling. However, students should note that licensure requirements in these areas, particularly school counseling, may differ from those for LPCs.
Additionally, schools might present aspiring LPCs with thesis and non-thesis program options. Students who choose a non-thesis program likely will need to pass a comprehensive exam to earn their degree. However, some thesis programs require passage of such an exam as well.
Prospective Licensed Professional Counselors likely would benefit from programs that have ties with the professional counseling community through student organizations or conferences. Students also might consider schools that have LPCs on their faculties. These professionals can provide career counseling and practical career-related advice.
Aspiring counselors also might look for a college or university that can prepare them for the National Counselor Examination (NCE), which can lead to voluntary certification as a National Certified Counselor (NCC). A number of states also use the NCE as part of their LPC licensing process. Students may wish to research NCE passing rates for a school's previous counseling students.
Counseling Program Overview
Master's Degree in Counseling
Students enrolled in a M.A. or M.S. programs in counseling typically learn about counseling practices, theories and techniques, including methods of interviewing, assessing and researching. They also might explore cross-cultural, crisis intervention and substance abuse counseling. Additionally, aspiring LPCs may be required to complete individual and group practicums, in addition to a counseling internship.
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