How to obtain an LPC license in Texas
The boards that govern and decoding the lingo
Anyone interested in becoming a licensed professional
counselor (LPC) needs to understand that you must obtain a professional license
through your state prior to starting your counseling career. Once you've made
the decision to become a professional counselor, you will need information on
how to become licensed to practice. Without a license, you will be unable to
legally provide counseling services. When your decision is made, you
immediately need to research what standards you must meet to gain that license.
The following is a general overview of who creates those guidelines and where
you start in finding out what you need to know to become a licensed counselor
along with the guidelines specific to gaining LPC licensure in Texas.
There are three distinctive bodies that govern credentialing for the counseling profession. These are the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC), state boards for professional licensure, and the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). These bodies have very different functions for the counseling community that range from education in counseling to national registration.
The NBCC is an independent, non-profit organization that was established to monitor national certification systems and maintain a registry of counselors nationwide. The NBCC registers counselors on a voluntary basis on a national level. The goal of this national registry is to allow for greater portability and recognition for counselors who may move their practice to another state. The NBCC also assists and allows for graduating Master's level students to join and educate themselves on credentialing in their state. The NBCC credentials counselors as practitioners and for clinical supervisors and technology-assisted counseling and as career facilitators. The NBCC also maintains a national registry of counselors who have voluntarily credentialed with the board (NBCC, 2009).
Why this matters to you? The NBCC collaborates with your specific state to set the requirements that you must meet for licensure. Also, the NBCC has a goal of making licensure portable so that if you move to a different state, you will be able to more easily obtain a counseling license in that state.
The CACREP accredits graduate level educational programs in a variety of counseling competencies from school and vocational counseling to counseling education. Many states require or base requirements for Master's level education on the CACREP standards for institutions. The CACREP reviews educational programs to ensure that they meet specified standards in order to educate competent, ethical, multicultural counselors.
Why this matters to you? You want to seek out graduate programs that are CACREP accredited since states either require that you have completed an approved program or base their guidelines on those of CACREP. Although this may not be a requirement in your state, it's better to be safe than sorry.
State boards, in contract to the NBCC, set forth guidelines required for and provide licensure for counselors to practice in individual states. Counselors can possess every level of education and experience required by the state to obtain a license, but cannot practice legally until they obtain the license through the state board. The state board decides what education, experience and testing is required and reviews each applicant to ensure that they have met all of these requirements before issuing license. The specific guidelines to obtaining a counseling license in your state can usually be found on the internet on your state's web page or by calling your state directly.
Why this matters to you? Your professional counseling license will be given to you by your state and you must meet their requirements in order for the state to issue it to you. You need to know what these specifically are for your area prior to entering graduate school. Most states have a State Board of Licensing Examiners. This is a good place to start.
The Lone Star State
An example of what you will be required to do.
In the State of Texas, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors is responsible for this task. The State of Texas requires that a counseling professional must meet the following guidelines prior to obtaining a license to practice. The counselor must have completed a Master's or Doctoral degree of at least 48 hours from an accredited college or university. The degree program must have specific coursework in abnormal human development, appraisal or assessment techniques, counseling theory, counseling methods and techniques for individual and group, research, lifestyle and career development, social, cultural and family issues, and professional orientation. They also require that the educational program include a practicum of at least 300 clock hours with 100 hours of direct client contact. After graduation and before an intern license will be issued by the state, counselors must take and pass the National Counselor Exam and Texas Jurisprudence Exam. Once these tests have been taken and passed, an intern license may be issued. Interns then are required to complete 3000 clock hours of internship with 1500 of these hours direct client contact. Supervision for this internship must be through a state licensed clinical supervising counselor. Once these requirements have been met, a license can be issued. The counselor then is required to complete varying levels of continuing education (TDSHS, 2006).
What does that all mean? It means that you must have at least a Master's degree and your degree must have at least 48 semester hours required. You must take classes in all of the areas listed above as part of your degree program. Your school should provide you with 300 clock (real, actual) hours of experience with 100 real hours of that being face to face contact with real clients. Once you graduate, you have to pass a test provided to you by the state. After passing that, you must do an internship (paid or unpaid) under an approved professional counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist and half of those hours have to be accomplished by face to face contact with real clients. You receive an Intern License during those 3000 hours and can practice as long as an approved professional signs off on your work. You can then get your license and be on your own. You'll then have to take CEUs (Continuing Education Units) to maintain your license.
National Board for Certified Counselors (2008). National Board for Certified Counselors. Retrieved February 8, 2009 from www.nbcc.org.
Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (2008). Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP). Retrieved February 8, 2009 from www.cacrep.org.
Texas Department of State Health Services (2006). Texas State Board of Examiners and Professional Counselors, Apply for a New License - Requirements. Retrieved February 8, 2009 from