Counselor (LPC) Classes and Courses Overview
A licensed professional counselor (LPC) provides mental health counseling services to individuals, couples and families. Counseling classes are generally completed as part of a full graduate program.
LPCs generally complete a master's degree program in psychology, counseling psychology or mental health and obtain a state license to practice counseling. States' requirements for LPCs differ and thus schools offering LPC preparatory programs may offer classes relevant to its state laws. Since each state has its own requirements for program accreditation, the number of program credit hours and the number of clinical experience hours needed to qualify for licensure, it's important for students to check their state's requirements before they enroll in a program.
Introductory courses in a program for aspiring LPCs include those in counseling research methods, human development and counseling ethics. Students gain an understanding of evaluating psychological research, learn about behavior throughout the lifespan and explore the ethical and legal issues involved in the profession. Later courses teach students to evaluate patients through various tests and interviews, as well as provide counseling for issues that often affect married couples, families, children and adolescents.
Counseling programs include a clinical experience that is completed after all the coursework. In addition, between 2,000 and 4,000 hours of supervised work after the degree program is needed for licensure. Graduates must pass the National Counseling Exam (NCE) or another state-approved exam to get licensed. Continuing education requirements usually apply as well.
List of Classes
The following are descriptions of courses that are typically required for all counseling programs.
Ethics in Counseling Course
Ethics courses deal with professional principles for counselors. Students take this course during the first semester of study so that they understand the implications of working with human subjects. Ethics is sometimes intermingled with legal issues. Ethics guidelines are codified in most state's counseling licensing laws and by organizations, such as the American Counseling Association.
Patient Assessment Course
Evaluating a patient's emotional and general mental well-being is part of a counselor's job. In this class, students learn how to assess and evaluate patients using accepted methods, including testing and interviewing. Selecting the best method for evaluation is a key component.
Counseling Children and Adolescents Course
Learning techniques appropriate for counseling children and adolescents and social and emotional problems that primarily occur in children, is the focus of this course. Students who plan to focus their counseling careers on children and adolescents may take this course after completing a prerequisite in counseling research methods. Students focusing on other areas of counseling, such as adult counseling, may take this course in their second year of study.
Marriage and Family Counseling Course
Although not always grouped together, marriage and family counseling students learn how the framework of the family influences family member relationships. Students learn theories related to how different types of families function. Couples counseling techniques are sometimes part of a family counseling course. This course is generally taken in mid-program.
Human Development Course
Human development classes cover human physiology and human behaviors associated with different stages of life. Theories behind the occurrence of certain behaviors, such as addictive behavior, are reviewed. Understanding lifespan behavior changes is integral to diagnosing a patient and providing treatment. This course is normally taken in the first semester.
Counseling Research Methods Course
In counseling research methods courses, students learn to interpret data derived from psychological studies, conduct statistical analysis and evaluate completed research. This quantitative research course is one of the first courses required in most graduate counseling programs. Research methods courses prepare graduate students for designing their own research during their graduate programs.
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