Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)FAQS

I have provided these answers to frequently asked questions about professional counseling as a service to other licensed mental health professionals. These FAQs will also be helpful to those aspiring to become counseling professionals. 

The behavioral health field is rapidly changing. Telemental health and permission to practice across state lines are driving many of these changes. It has always been my mission to provide the most useful, reliable and accurate information about professional counselors, interjurisdictional practice and safe ethical practice.

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Most states now accept at least part of live webinar training hours to satisfy continuing education requirements for LPCs, LCSWs and LMFTs. Some states permit you to complete all of your continuing education hours via webinar. In short, live synchronous webinars are rapidly becoming a standard substitute for in-classroom LPC training. To be certain, check with your state licensing board. 

A synchronous live webinar is a training broadcast where live interaction happens. Live webinars are often delivered on Zoom or a similar video platform so webinars are easy for the user to attend and operate even for the technically challenged. In other words participants can raise their hand and ask questions. The trainer can answer. Participants can interact with each other. Live synchronous webinars are as close to in-person classroom events as is possible.

Examples of Asynchronous counselor training are on-demand video. You can complete the workshop at your own pace. Often asynchronous training is completed by registering for a workshop and reading the material on a webpage. In both cases, you need to achieve a passing score on a post-test. Then you are issued a certificate of completion. Asynchronous training is NOT live and many states limit the number of continuing education hours that can be obtained through self-guided educational material. You complete these alone without guidance or educational feedback from a trainer.

There are differences in opinion on counselors bartering with their clients. However, consider this fact: the moment you barter with a client, you create a dual relationship. The dual relationship is that now YOU have become THEIR customer. It becomes more likely that disputes can arise and for the therapist to harm the client. 

You can practice counseling internationally only if that country permits it. U.S. states have no jurisdiction over other U.S. states let alone other countries. You will need to understand the laws of that country. Regarding your counseling license, the ethics of international practice must be considered. In fact, ethics of international practice is probably a much greater concern than the legal issues.

Georgia issues LPC licenses by endorsement. You must complete the application for a Georgia LPC License By Endorsement.   You must demonstrate that you have met equivalent requirements for your home state license.

An LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) is state licensed to provide counseling and psychotherapy. An LPC has a minimum master’s degree. Professional Counselors are required to obtain several years of practice experience while under the supervision of a licensing board approved clinical supervisor. They are classified by states as licensed healthcare professionals and regulated by the healthcare licensing board. Like doctors, nurses, physical therapists and so on. They are also required to complete a practicum and internship within the graduate degree program. It is a rigorous process and privilege–not a right– to be issued a healthcare professional practice license in any state. There are also provisionally licensed associate  professional counselors–LAPC, APC– who can legally practice professional counseling but they must be under clinical supervision.

You can only legally practice professional counseling in a state you are licensed. Professional practice licenses are regulated by states. If you are licensed professional counselor in Georgia you can only legally practice in Massachusetts if you have a MA counselors license. The same holds true if you are a licensed marriage and family therapist, social worker and numerous other professional practice licensees. 

In a nutshell, do the following as it is a plan that will likely survive future changes in licensing requirements across states. In other words, this plan assumes you want to have the option to apply for an LPC/LMHC in any state:

  1. A Master’s degree in mental health counseling or professional counseling.
  2. Be sure the program is CACREP accredited program. CACREP is an acronym for Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. It has become the standard accrediting body for determining the quality and credibility of a graduate Counseling program.
  3. The program must include an internship *as part of the degree program*–not after the master’s degree has been conferred. 
  4. Upon graduation, speak with an experienced licensee or professional association in your state for guidance on what will be acceptable work and clinical supervision– you don’t want to waste years by not properly researching licensing requirements.

As of 11/22/2022, there are a few remaining exceptions. Most COVID-19 exceptions for counselors have expired. Even for those states whose COVID-19 exceptions remain in place, there are specific restrictions and exclusions. The most common restriction is that a counselor cannot accept new patients in the receiving state. They may only treat established  psychotherapy clients who have relocated to a state. It’s not a good idea to hang your hat on COVID-19 exceptions as a means for building an interjusrisdictional counseling practice.

The short answer is no you cannot date a former client. Theoretically you can after a period of time or a number of years. The problem arises when your state law or licensing board law conflicts with other psychotherapist codes of ethics. If your state counseling board has it’s own ethics code — and it probably does– first and foremost, abide by that law and code of ethics.  Your state ethics will always prevail if there is a conflict with state or national professional counseling association codes of ethics.

The moral of the story: err on the side of caution and find someone to date besides your former clients. 

No. There are no states that have implemented and engaged other states in compact agreements. The threshold of “10 states to become effective” means the compact organization can begin to setup their administrative role in the counseling compact.

This is a great question. Some states the answer is a resounding, yes. Other states do not accept master’s in school counseling degrees for LPC licensing. Although it may not be explicitly stated in your board law and rules, boards have discretion in interpreting their LPC licensing requirements. So you may able to obtain an LPC with a School Counseling Degree. This also in part depends upon your post masters work experience.  

In some states LPCs may perform psychological testing. Psychologists have tended to block master’s level therapists from psychological testing. The primary reason is that, understandably, it is the remaining stronghold for psychologists scope of practice. Master’s level licensed mental health professionals can deliver virtually any type of therapy provided they have the appropriate training. 

Your ethical counseling decisions should be based upon an analytical ethical decision making model. At minimum, you should understand how to dissect your ethical dilemmas and clearly define them.  For example, you may find that your advocacy work, though well intended, may result in a boundary crossing or dual relationship. Such is true in the case of advocating for your client with their employer. Often the very nature of an employer/employee relationship is adversarial. These scenarios can result in poor outcomes including board complaints and civil suits. Objectively review your scenario and consult with a peer. 

In the vast majority of states LPCs can diagnose mental illness. Where states depart from each other is whether provisionally licensed counselors can diagnose. In Georgia, both APCs and LPCs can legally diagnose. Check with your state. The answer is likely clearly spelled out in that counseling board’s rules. 

No. Reciprocity is quite different from endorsement. Reciprocity is a written formal agreement between two or more states to recognize the other’s licenses. Endorsement is the most common route to becoming licensed in another state. In fact, very few states have reciprocal agreements. Many states use the term “reciprocity” in their LPC licensing requirements rules, but that is a misnomer. 

The two most common definitions of ‘qualified supervisor’ is they have either been formally approved by the state board or the supervisor has met certain requirements under state rules. For example, in Georgia a supervisor must have a minimum 3 years post licensure experience and hold a third-party credential. The LPC supervision credentials accepted by Georgia’s board is either the NBCC Approved Clinical Supervisor or LPCA of GA CPCS credential. On the other hand, the Virginia Board of Counseling has an Approved Supervisor Registry. The definition of ‘qualified supervisors’ for each state differs.

Very few states have LPC endorsement. Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee have true reciprocal agreements.