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I'm glad you asked. LCPC stands for Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. In Maryland,
licensed counselors are all considered LCPCs. In Connecticut, licensed counselors are all considered LPCs. LPC stands for Licensed Professional
Counselor. Different states have slightly different labels for the same thing, a trained professional counselor licensed by the state.
There are even more acronyms
that refer to a licensed counselor. LMHC stands for Licensed Mental
Health Counselor. LCMHC means Licensed Clinical Mental Health
Counselor. The list goes on. See the chart below.
A Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor or LCPC is also referred to as
Each State has slightly different criteria for granting licenses to people. And a State may have a different label for their mental health professionals. Whatever label is used, the word “licensed” is the first word.
In the United States, in order to be licensed, you need to be approved by a State Board of Professionals. They are a group of people who work for the State government. State Boards check the backgrounds of individuals who seek licenses to practice counseling (called licensure). State Boards verify that an applicant seeking a license:
In short, the job of a State Board is to protect the health and safety of its State’s residents.
In general, State’s require proof that a person has training. An applicant must:
In most States, like Maryland, the State Board also requires all licensed mental health providers to be fingerprinted. This is done so that full background checks from both the State and the F.B.I. can occur. If you’d like to learn more about Maryland’s Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists, click here.
The National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) is a non-profit
organization. They are responsible for the national exams that all
professional counselors have to take. All U.S. States require these
exams before a license is issued. The NBCC also performs
other functions like:
A sister profession to professional counseling is social work. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW, LSW) is also referred to as a counselor, psychotherapist, and therapist. Of course, they are known also as social workers.
This profession is very similar to professional counseling and regulated by State Boards, too. The licensure and oversight process for social workers is just as rigorous as the process for professional counselors.
Not all counselors are licensed. There are some counselors who advertise that they are family counselors or individual counselors or more, but they are not licensed. Obviously, this can be misleading and potentially unsafe.
For your safety, confirm a counselor is licensed. It’s really easy. To find out, do a search on the term "license verification in the State of ___" Direct links for license and licensee lookups for CT, MD & VA are below:
I hope this general information page has been helpful. Did you see errors? Think something should be added? Are you curious about more info related to this topic? Send an email.
Lucrezia Mangione is the Clinical Director of Mind Body Well Therapy, Pllc. She is a board certified licensed professional counselor, board certified telemental health provider, neurofeedback trainer, counselor supervisor, educator, and nurse wellness education consultant. View her profile.