Therapy FAQ

What Is an LCPC and Should You See One for Therapy?

If you’re new to therapy, you will likely be shocked by the dizzying variety of abbreviations accompanying therapists’ names. However, they are in place for good reason — therapists use these letters to highlight their training and qualifications.  In this case, LCPC stands for Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, a therapist licensed to diagnose and treat […]

therapist william snyder By William Snyder, LPC

Updated on Jan 12, 2024

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If you’re new to therapy, you will likely be shocked by the dizzying variety of abbreviations accompanying therapists’ names. However, they are in place for good reason — therapists use these letters to highlight their training and qualifications. 

In this case, LCPC stands for Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, a therapist licensed to diagnose and treat various mental health issues. 

Here we’ll unpack what you need to know about licensed clinical professional counselors, including their credentials, specialties, and how you may benefit from seeing one.

LCPC Education and Credentials

As with many mental wellness fields, the LCPC sector is highly regulated. A licensed clinical professional counselor, also known as a clinical professional counselor, holds advanced degrees in mental health coupled with many years of practical experience. The set requirements may vary by state, but the career path follows a similar progression:

Bachelor’s Degree: LCPCs start their career by earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related subject from a reputable university. 

Master’s Degree: Earning a master’s degree in psychology, counseling, or a related discipline from an accredited program is the next step. The coursework covers counseling theory, individual appraisal, counseling techniques, ethical practice, family dynamics, and substance abuse. Some LCPCs take their training a notch higher by completing a doctoral degree in psychology. 

Clinical Experience: After completing an advanced degree, an LCPC works under the supervision of a practicing therapist for two years. They must accrue 960 hours of supervised clinical experience within 48 weeks each year. 

State Examination: After honing their skills during the clinical experience, an LCPC will sit for two rigorous state licensing examinations. The National Counselor Examination (NCE) comprises 200 multiple questions. The National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Exam (NCMHCE) is more challenging and requires resolving 10 simulated mental health cases. 

State Licensure: After passing the state exam, an LCPC may apply for a state license and begin offering therapy services.  

Ongoing Training: LCPCs are required to complete about 30 hours of additional training each year to renew their professional licenses. The rigorous training arms an LCPC with the skills, knowledge, and expertise to diagnose and treat various mental illnesses. 

How Are LCPCs Different from Other Mental Health Professionals?

Credentials matter when choosing a therapist. Here are several examples of how LCPCs differ from their professional counterparts:

LCPC vs. LPC: LCPCs have additional licensure and clinical experience requirements compared to Licensed Professional Counselors (LPC), giving them a broader scope of practice. Besides the advanced degrees, an LPC sits for the NCE exam, while an LCPC must pass the NCE exam and the more rigorous NCMHCE exam. LPCs and LCPCs require at least 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience over a two year period. 

LCPC vs. Psychiatrist: An LCPC holds a master’s or doctorate in psychology or a related discipline. Psychiatrists are medical doctors (MDs or DOs) who have completed medical school and specialized training in psychiatry. Unlike LCPCs specializing in talk therapy, a psychiatrist may diagnose and treat mental health disorders and prescribe medication.

LCPC vs. Psychologist: An LCPC will typically have a master’s level education, while a psychologist will have a doctoral degree in psychology. The advanced training allows psychologists a broader scope of practice, including conducting research, administering psychological tests, and providing psychotherapy.    

LCPC vs. LCSW: An LCPC may hold an advanced degree in psychology, while a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) will have a master’s degree in social work. They both provide psychotherapy, but their approach is remarkably different. An LCPC may emphasize the emotional and psychological aspects of treatment, while an LCSW may incorporate a broader understanding of cultural, social, and systemic influences on a client’s well-being.  

Types of Therapy that LCPCs Provide 

LCPCs are trained in various therapeutic approaches and techniques to meet the mental health needs of their clients. Common types of therapy an LCPC may provide include:

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT): Examines the connection between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It seeks to identify and change negative or unhelpful thought patterns and conduct that lead to emotional distress and dysfunctional behavior. 

Gestalt Therapy: Encourages self-awareness and personal responsibility by examining a client’s experience with their emotions, memories, and behaviors. Gestalt therapy uses guided imagery, role-playing, and dialogue techniques to help clients realign their internal environment. 

Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT): A goal-oriented approach that focuses on finding solutions. SFBT helps clients identify their strengths, resources, and past successes to create positive change.

Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT): This evidence-based therapy modality is popular in couples therapy but is also helpful in individual treatment. It seeks to identify and change negative interaction patterns and allow clients to access and process their emotions to promote healing and relationship growth. 

Family Systems Therapy: The therapy modality views individuals within the context of their family setting and the interconnectedness of family dynamics. It recognizes that the actions of a family member have a ripple effect on the family as a whole. Therapists work with the entire family to identify patterns, improve communication, and promote healthier interactions. 

These are some of the tools in an LCPC’s toolbox. Your therapist may blend them as they deem fit to create a custom therapy modality to help you address your mental health issues. 

Who May Benefit from Seeing an LCPC?

Alice Fitzgerald, a licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC) with Grow Therapy, emphasizes the value of seeking therapy.

“Clinical therapy provides a structured and goal-oriented approach to treatment, ensuring that clients stay focused on their objectives and make measurable progress. This practical and supportive framework allows individuals to feel heard, validated, and empowered to take charge of their mental health journey.”

As trained mental health professionals, LCPCs can help you address various mental and emotional issues — both minor and major. These psychotherapists provide a safe and supportive space where you’re provided with the means to help navigate your mental health concerns.

An LCPC may provide their services to a diverse group of people, including: 

Why You Should See an LCPC

Despite concerted efforts to improve accessibility, people often shy away from therapy. Deeply rooted myths and misconceptions about mental illness breed stigma that fuels reluctance among people who need mental health treatment.  

Ideally, you should seek a therapist if you encounter a distressing issue threatening your quality of life. 

The American Psychiatric Association recommends seeing a therapist if you have a distressful issue that: 

LCPCs are uniquely positioned to help you overcome mental and emotional distress by offering practical solutions you can implement immediately. They also provide a safe learning space to navigate your mental health concerns.

How to Choose the Best LCPC

Besides credentials and experience, here are other factors that influence your therapy experience:

Location: Your therapist’s office determines your ability to attend sessions. Ideally, you should consider transportation options, proximity to your home or workplace, and accessibility when choosing a therapist. You can also consider online therapy, which will give you access to a wider selection of providers who might not be in your town or city but are licensed to practice in your state. 

Cost Per Session: Therapy fees vary widely depending on the type of therapy offered, therapist’s credentials, location, and experience. Inquire about the cost per session and the treatment duration to determine if it fits within your budget. Ideally, you should pick a session rate that allows you to complete the entire treatment plan, more so when paying for therapy out-of-pocket. To find a therapist who’s in-network with your insurance, use the Grow Therapy filters to get a curated list of options.

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Therapeutic Approach: LCPCs use various therapeutic modalities, including CBT, psychodynamic therapy, and mindfulness-based approaches. Always inquire about a therapist’s preferred method and determine if it aligns with your needs and preferences.  

Availability: A therapist’s availability ties directly to your progress. You want a therapist with appointment times that work with your schedule. Some therapists have limited availability or long waitlists, so inquire about their scheduling options during the discovery session. Most providers with Grow Therapy have availability within two days, so you can get the help you need right away.  

Practical Tips for Choosing an LCPC

Establishing a connection with your therapist is the key to a fruitful therapy experience. Therefore, be picky when choosing an LCPC, as not all therapists make a good fit. Here are pointers to help you get the best therapist: 

Finding the right therapist may be more time-consuming than choosing at random. Still, due diligence goes hand-in-hand with long-term therapeutic success — so be sure to take as much time as you need to choose.   

Take Charge of Your Mental Health

A licensed clinical professional counselor is equipped to help with many mental and emotional concerns. Consider seeing an LCPC if you have a mental illness or need a professional to guide your personal or professional development. 

Grow Therapy can help connect you with a qualified provider. Our network of licensed therapists caters to diverse mental health and wellness needs, preferences, and budgets. Book a session today, and we’ll connect you with a therapist perfectly suited to meet your needs. 


  • Counselor and therapist are terms used interchangeably to refer to psychotherapists or mental health specialists. There are no professional distinctions between the two. Still, the terms may be used in different contexts and settings: Counselors in schools, therapists in health clinics and hospitals, for instance.

  • The duration of therapy with an LCPC varies depending on your circumstances and scope of treatment. Depending on progress and therapy goals, treatment may range from a few sessions to several months.

  • All therapy sessions with an LCPC are confidential. Like all therapists, LCPC adheres to strict ethical guidelines and professional standards to protect client privacy and confidentiality.

About the author
therapist william snyder William Snyder, LPC

William Snyder is a licensed professional counselor who works with adults experiencing symptoms such as anxiety, depressed mood, loss and grief, identity and self-concept difficulties, relationship problems, life-transition difficulties, and traumatic memories.

This article is not meant to be a replacement for medical advice. We recommend speaking with a therapist for personalized information about your mental health. If you don’t currently have a therapist, we can connect you with one who can offer support and address any questions or concerns. If you or your child is experiencing a medical emergency, is considering harming themselves or others, or is otherwise in imminent danger, you should dial 9-1-1 and/or go to the nearest emergency room.

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