5 Steps to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor

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5 Steps to Become a Licensed Professional Counselor

As a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) or Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), you’ll have the ability to help people alter their lives and relationships. Here are the requirements that will help you get ready for a career in counseling.

1. Get a Master’s Degree

You are going to be spending two to three years completing 48 to 60 credit hours of coursework so it is important that your program is CACREP accredited and possess a philosophy that matches your own.

Additionally figure out what is important to you. Do you want:
• A degree that emphasizes research?
• A flexible schedule?
• A program with a high examination pass rate?
• Classes taught by clinicians who are currently practicing in the field?

Make sure that the program also has a simulation center, in which students practice counseling techniques by role-playing in rooms outfitted with unobtrusive cameras and microphones, so that the class can learn from each session.

2. Complete your practicum

While you’re a student, you’ll participate in one or more practicum courses, these courses will allow you to work in one or more professional counseling settings to get hands-on experience. Use these classes to determine which field you enjoy, what population you’d like to serve, and what you may focus on while completing your internship.

3. Take the exam

After completing your coursework and graduating from your program, you’ll sit for the national LPC or LMFT exam. At the same time, you will apply to your state board to acquire your temporary license.

4. Find an internship

Once you have successfully passed the required exam and received the temporary licensing, you can begin your internship. Internship experiences can vary from intern to intern, but here are some things to know:
• Internships can be 1,000 to 3,000 hours of supervised practice depending on you level of education or previous work experience.
• You will have direct contact with clients and review you sessions with your supervisor on a weekly basis.
• Your supervisor must be board approved.
• Check with your state board to make sure you know the correct number of hours you will need to spend as an intern.

5. Get valuable experience

Many students enter a master’s program with the dream of opening their own practice, but that’s not the best — or most practical — option right after school, experts from St. Edward’s University say. In order to open their own practice counselors need:
• To build up a client base
• Network
• And learn
Completing these steps before hand will better equip you to open up your own mental health practice in the future.

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