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What is Clinical Counseling?

Clinical counseling, like many of the helping professions, is a vital calling to help build a healthy and prosperous society. It is a profession in which you may diagnose, treat, and proactively guide individuals and groups to overcome disability, grow, and embrace change. Certified counselors are in mental health services where they counsel individuals who are struggling with anxiety, depression, grief, loss, anger management, and infidelity, along with many other issues. Clinical counselors also may assist with the diagnosis and treatment of mental health conditions, although they are unable to prescribe medication.

What is an LPCC?

A Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) works around the specific needs of patients as individuals with the goal of treating their mental health, but they may also extend their services to include working with families or in group counseling.

LPCC is the proper title for all clinical counselors working today in California. Since 2012, the state of California has managed the licenses of its counselors and has created the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) to regulate the LPCC license across the state. The California Association for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (CALPCC) was also officially launched in January of 2011, which is an organization designed to protect, support, and promote the new license and those holding it.

Working with CALPCC’s mission in mind, Alliant has been working to build and support the recognition and effective utilization of LPCCSs California as distinct and valuable providers within the clinical mental health profession.

But this still asks the question: What exactly does an LPCC do?

What LPCCs Do

LPCCs often work in community mental health clinics, government agencies, hospitals, or universities, as well as operating their own private practices. While their list of responsibilities can vary depending on exactly what setting in which they’re working, some of the more common responsibilities are as follows:

  • Using clinical assessment to evaluate and diagnose mental health disorders in individuals.
  • Providing psychoeducation to individuals and groups to bring awareness to individual, psychosocial, and environmental challenges.
  • Teaching coping strategies for dealing with mental health disorders to improve individual and group functioning and quality of life.
  • Applying psychotherapeutic interventions to treat mental, emotional, and behavioral problems in clients.
  • Employing crisis intervention techniques in individual and group settings.
  • Helping clients manage stress, implement personal development strategies, and make more informed life choices.
  • Working with active-duty military personnel and their families, as well as veterans.
  • And a lot more.

Please note that holding LPCC status allows one to perform a broad range of duties and may serve both individuals and groups, but licensees who aspire to treat couples and families must meet additional requirements as set forth by the BBS.

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How does LPCC differ from LPC?

LPCC isn’t just the name of the person working as a clinical counselor, it is also the name of the certification they need to obtain to do so. This LPCC is disseminated by the above-mentioned BBS, and is awarded to master’s-level mental health clinicians who have met a list of requirements, including:

  • Completing of an approved master’s or doctoral degree with practical experience, such as Alliant’s APA-accredited Master of Arts in Clinical Counseling program;
  • Registering as a Professional Clinical Counselor Intern (PCCI)
  • Accruing 3,000 hours of post-degree supervised training; and
  • Successful passing of the California Law and Ethics Examination and the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination

An LPC (licensed professional counselor) has a broad counseling psychology degree which qualifies them to offer counseling support, but are not authorized to directly diagnose or treat mental illness. The inclusion of “clinical” in LPCC allows the licensed counselor to expand their range of professional counseling services to also cover the diagnosis and treatment of patients with mental illness. While LPCCs still prioritize counseling, their primary focus shifts toward mental health. 

An LPC and an LPCC have fundamental similarities as mental health providers, but they possess a few differentiating factors that distinguish them. It's important to note that the specific prerequisites for each profession can vary by state.

Please be aware that although California recognizes the LPCC, in other states this clinician might be known as a licensed professional counselor (LPC), or a licensed mental health counselor (LMHC). Regardless of variance in the title, these clinicians typically perform similar duties within the field of mental health, as mentioned in the previous section.

  • Education -  Due to their role in diagnosing and treating patients, a clinical mental health counselor's educational background may include subject topics that cover the needed groundwork for accurate diagnosis and treatment.
  • Hands-on Training - Both LPCs and LPCCs must fulfill a minimum of 3,000 hours of direct client clinical experience following their graduation. It's important to note that the specific criteria for the number of hours may vary depending on the regulations set by each state.
  • Licensure - An LPC must pass the national exam administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). Ann LPCC is required to successfully complete both state and nationally accredited licensure or certification exams.

If you are interested in pursuing a career as an LPCC, contact Alliant today to learn more about our Master’s in Clinical Counseling program.

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