Therapy FAQ

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

Curious about what a Licensed Professional Counselor does? They’re crucial in mental health and equipped to handle various issues like relationships and depression. Let’s explore what they are and why you might consider therapy with one.

Therapist Dr. Jaclyn Gulotta By Jaclyn Gulotta, LMHC

Updated on May 12, 2024

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If you’ve been looking into whether therapy could be for you, perhaps you’ve encountered the acronym LPC. But what exactly is an LPC, and should you see one for therapy? Understanding the scope of an LPC’s work is crucial if you or a loved one is looking for mental health services.

This article discusses the meaning of LPC, what they do, and their qualifications to help you determine whether they’re suitable for you.

What Does LPC Stand For? 

LPC stands for Licensed Professional Counselor. An LPC is a mental health professional who has completed graduate-level education, training, and licensing requirements to provide counseling and therapy services to individuals, couples, families, and groups.

LPCs are increasingly becoming instrumental in helping mental health patients overcome various emotional, behavioral, and mental health challenges in a variety of healthcare settings.

LPCs are trained to provide patient-centered therapy, providing counseling and therapy for learning disabilities, relationship issues, drug and substance abuse, and other mental health issues.

Depending on the state, an LPC may also be referred to as a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor or a Licensed Mental Health Counselor.

According to Steven Band, a licensed professional counselor with Grow Therapy, “There is not much difference between an LPC and other professional counselors, like Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW). In terms of work, they are trained to provide therapy. Their professions require a master’s degree, and most states have the same degree program or something similar.”

When to See an LPC 

Mental health issues are prevalent, affecting anyone regardless of age, gender, or social status. Consider seeing a licensed professional counselor if you’re struggling with personal problems or need help managing your emotions. Consider seeing an LPC if you can identify with any of the following:

 If You Have Relationship Issues

Problems in a relationship can range from attachment issues and fear of confrontation to difficulties in being assertive. If ignored, minor tiffs grow into big problems, making maintaining or keeping a relationship difficult.

If you are encountering issues in your relationship, consider seeing an LPC. Through therapy, you will gain a deeper insight into the reasons why you have relational problems. A counselor will also help you develop the necessary coping skills you need to create and maintain healthy connections with those close to you.

Through therapy, you will work together with a counselor to upskill in important relational areas, such as respectful assertiveness, fair fighting, healthy dependency, and tolerance, among others. 

 If You Are Facing a Major Life Event

Starting a new job, beginning a family, or leaving a long-term relationship are some of the life-changing events that can bring a considerable amount of distress.

If you are questioning your ability to cope in a new work environment or are doubtful about your parenting skills, seeing an LPC might be in order. Talking to a counselor will provide you with guidance, advice, and the skills you need to adapt to major life events. 

If You Need to Process a Traumatic Event

Though people react differently to traumatic events, failure to seek help in processing the trauma may pose a risk to your mental health.

If you have faced a traumatic experience, a licensed professional counselor can help you navigate the difficult times and create a recovery plan to aid you in taking steps forward. 

When You Feel Depressed 

From busy work schedules and financial constraints to study or parenting, your body and brain are bound to succumb to the pressure at some time.

If ignored, stress can lead to depression. Typical indicators of depression include loss of interest in things that previously made you happy, withdrawal, irritability, sadness, self-pity, and even suicidal ideation. 

Seeing a professional counselor is advisable if you notice you or someone close to you has these symptoms. A mental health specialist will help you identify your stressors and teach you coping strategies. 

LPC Licensure 

LPC licensure serves as a professional standard for all counselors. To become a Licensed Professional Counselor, one must meet the following requirements: 

Complete a Master’s Degree in Counseling

Becoming an LPC begins with acquiring a bachelor’s degree in counseling or a related field. After the degree, a person must complete a master’s degree in counseling approved by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). An accredited master’s degree program covers all the required topics stipulated in the state laws as a requirement for LPC licensure.

Supervised Clinical Experience 

State LPC licensing laws typically require a person to undergo a supervised clinical internship as part of the master’s program. Data across multiple sources indicate that a Licensed Professional Counselor has typically completed 2,000 to 3,000 hours of supervised internship in a fixed period. The internship includes face-to-face supervision hours and is usually based on CACREP standards.

Passage of National Counselor Examination (NCE)

All Licensed Professional Counselors are required to pass the National Counselor Examination (NCE) set by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) before being allowed to practice. They may also sit for the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE). Typically, an LPC must pass either or both of the exams.  

After passing the exam, a counselor is supposed to apply for an LPC license to the board. Once awarded the board certification, a person can start operations as a Licensed Professional Counseling in the state the license has been granted.

Adherence to the Professional Code of Ethics

All professionals are expected to stick to the professional code of ethics. Failure to observe these standards may lead to revocation and cancellation of the license. The five principles of ethics for counselors are:

Degree and Qualifications 

LPCs spend years in education before they qualify to work with patients in the mental health sector. To qualify as an LPC, one must:

Earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Counseling or a Related Field

Those aspiring to become professional counselors must first earn a bachelor’s degree in counseling or related fields like social work or psychology. The degree provides the foundational knowledge required for graduate studies. In most cases, aspiring counselors enroll for a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in psychology. A bachelor of social work is also preferable.

The degree lays the groundwork in the fields of human development, social issues related to mental health, and psychological disorders.

Have a Master’s Degree or Ph.D. in Counseling 

After completing a bachelor’s degree, an aspiring counselor must then enroll in a CACREP-accredited master’s program. Typically, a person must complete 60 semester hours of graduate study. The time spent studying must include at least 48 semester hours of master’s degree.

In most cases, LPCs pursue a master’s degree in counseling, and it typically takes two years. While a doctorate degree is preferable, it is not a mandatory requirement for one to become a Licensed Professional Counselor.

Complete Practicum Internship

The master’s program for counselors involves hours of supervised clinical work on two levels: practicum and internship. Typically, a person must complete 2,000-3,000 hours of supervised work in a clinical setting. As trainees, the counselors are involved in all aspects of the roles of a professional counselor. The training helps the learners to integrate the professional aspects of being an LPC. 

Who Should See a Licensed Professional Counselor for Therapy?  

Licensed Professional Counselors provide a range of mental health services. However, there are groups of people who may particularly benefit from seeing an LPC for therapy, such as:

Individuals with Mental Illness

According to the World Health Organization, one in every eight individuals lives with a mental disorder. Common mental health illnesses or disorders that require the attention of a professional counselor include:

A counselor is trained to help people overcome mental health problems through therapy. Though it may take time, the results are usually positive, with 75% of people who undergo different types of therapy reporting success.

Couples With Relationship Issues 

If you are experiencing relationship difficulties, you need to see a counselor. Through therapy, an LPC can help save your marriage or relationship by assisting you in identifying the underlying causes of your problems. Additionally, you will learn how to live happily with one another.  

Whether your relationship problems arise from infidelity, poor communication, lack of intimacy, or internal stressors, an LPC can provide the solution you need through therapy. Typical forms of treatment for couples include:

Those With Addiction Problems

Seeing a psychologist can help you identify the causes of your problem and find a personalized solution. Since addiction affects the whole family, an LPC also supports the other affected family members through family therapy. The family members are taught the best approaches to support their loved one’s recovery and manage their feelings in the process.

People Who Need Self-Awareness and Motivation

A counselor not only attends to people who have problems in life. Licensed professional counselors are also life coaches who can assist you in reaching your goals.

Through motivational enhancement therapy, a professional counselor can help you identify your weaknesses, strengths, desires, and motivations. By doing this, a counselor helps you develop self-awareness. People who resist change may acknowledge the negative impacts of their behavior, their impediments to change, and how to implement the desired changes for a fulfilling life. 

Final Thoughts

If you have any mental health concerns, consider the help of a qualified professional. An LPC is a trained and experienced mental health professional who can help you navigate various issues, including depression, anxiety, trauma, and relationship issues. 

With the expertise and support of an LPC or other mental health professional, you can develop new coping skills, build healthier relationships, and gain greater insight into your emotions and behavior. So, if you are considering therapy, don’t hesitate to contact an LPC to get the help you need to live your best life.  

Whether you see an LPC or other mental health professional, be sure to ask them about their specialties and treatment plans to be sure you find the right fit for you, as therapists aren’t a one-size-fits-all.

If you need therapy but don’t know where to start, Grow Therapy can help. Browse our marketplace of qualified mental health professionals to find one who fits your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

About the author
Therapist Dr. Jaclyn Gulotta Jaclyn Gulotta, LMHC

Dr. Jaclyn Gulotta is a licensed mental health counselor with over 10 years of experience in the mental health field. She helps individuals overcome numerous issues, including stress and anxiety disorders, self-esteem issues, relationship issues, depression, behavioral issues, and grief.

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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