What Is A Licensed Professional Counselor?

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What IS a Licensed Professional Counselor? That’s a question I get a lot.

“Professional counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals. Counselors work with clients on strategies to overcome obstacles and personal challenges that they are facing.”

the American Counseling Association:

Professional counselors possess at least a Master’s Degree in counseling, along with a National Board certification, and a state license.

In New Jersey, that means completing a 60-credit graduate program in counseling, including 720 hours of practicum/internship, followed by 4,500 supervised, clinical hours in their chosen specialty before they can apply for state licensure.

After licensing, most counselors continue to seek supervision with an experienced counselor in their specialty, and must complete 40 continuing education credits each two years to renew their licenses.

When someone has the initials LPC (in NJ – in other states it might be LMHC or LCMHC) after their name, you can trust that they have spent years studying and preparing to help you achieve your mental health, wellness, educational and professional goals.

Most professional counselors belong to professional associations, such as the American Counseling Association, American Mental Health Counseling Association, and New Jersey Counseling Association.

These organizations host annual conferences which help counselors to stay abreast of advancements in their field, get help with professional and ethical questions that have arisen for them in their practice of counseling, and continue to expand their education.

Most counselors choose 2-3 specialty focuses for their practice, such as anxiety and stress, depression and grief, mood disorders, marriage and family, adoption/attachment, creative (Art, Music, Play therapies), child and adolescent, older adult and aging, LGBTQ+, and many others. This enables counselors to focus their continuing education on the areas that most interest them so they can truly become specialists in their field.

Personally, I have become increasingly interested in moving my practice of counseling out of the intellect (left brain) and into the body (right brain).  This fall (2020), I will be starting a months-long certificate program in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy for Trauma, which will help me work with clients who have had traumatic early-life experiences to identify the impact of those experiences in their present-day emotions and behaviors. 

This is a very exciting field of counseling, based on the Structural Dissociation Model, Attachment, Neuropsychology, Polyvagal Theory, Sensorimotor, and Internal Family Systems.  Phew!  It’s a lot to cover and I wish I could be taking this course in person and not online, but I know it will prove incredibly value to the work I do with my clients.

What questions do you have about professional counseling/counselors? I invite you to send me a message and I will be happy to answer.

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