Key Takeaways

  • Licensed professional counselors (LPCs) are trained to diagnose mental health conditions, provide therapy, and help people achieve their goals.
  • LPCs offer tailored treatment plans for individuals, couples, and families in a safe and confidential environment. 
  • Prior to seeing clients, LPCs must earn a master’s degree, complete several years of supervised clinical experience, and pass state and national examinations.

If you’re considering speaking with a mental health professional, you’re probably wondering what type of provider to see. You may be familiar with clinicians like psychiatrists, nurse practitioners, and therapists. But what about counselors? 

Licensed professional counselors (LPCs) are highly-trained mental health professionals who are qualified to treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues. Whether it’s managing mental health symptoms or overcoming family conflict, LPCs can support individuals, couples, and families to address specific challenges, behavioral problems, and other concerns. 

What do LPCs do?

According to the American Counseling Association, “Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.” LPCs provide a client-centered, goal-oriented approach to care through a wide range of services, including mental health assessment and therapy. 

Mental health assessments

An initial assessment is when a LPC or another licensed provider evaluates your symptoms. LPCs are trained to assess, diagnose, and treat mental and emotional disorders, including:

From this assessment, a LPC will decide if they can support your needs or if they should refer you to another provider for long-term care. 

Therapy

Working with a LPC can help people address specific concerns like coping with grief, improving relationships, and regulating emotions. LPCs are trained to offer both individual and group therapy using techniques like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing).

 

LPCs versus other mental health professionals

Like other mental health professionals, LPCs can provide therapy, offer educational resources, and make recommendations to help people address and overcome mental health issues. Here’s what sets psychologists and psychiatrists apart from counselors. 

Psychologists

Counselors and psychologists can both conduct assessments, but psychologists usually perform more comprehensive psychological evaluations. Psychologists are also more likely to treat more complex issues, such as clinical depression, bipolar disorder, and borderline personality disorder. Counselors earn a masters-level degree in order to practice, while psychologists earn a doctorate in psychology (PhD or PsyD). 

Psychiatrists

Psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners are trained to diagnose and treat mental illness, provide psychotherapy, and prescribe medication. Counselors can’t prescribe medication, but they can refer people to psychiatric providers if they believe medication management is the best way to treat their condition. 

What kind of education and training does a LPC complete?

Becoming a LPC requires substantial education and training. Requirements may vary by state, but generally speaking LPCs must complete the following steps prior to working with clients.

LPCs need a master’s degree in mental health counseling or clinical psychology, which usually includes a clinical internship. They’re also required to complete training and supervised clinical experience, usually ranging from 2,000 to 4,000 hours. This involves both direct and indirect client work, like conducting counseling sessions. Finally, LPCs must meet the licensing requirements of their particular state. 

According to the American Counseling Association, professional counselors may go by several titles, including: 

  • Licensed professional counselor (LPC)
  • Licensed mental health counselor (LMHC)
  • Licensed clinical professional counselor (LCPC)
  • Licensed professional clinical counselor of mental health (LPCC)
  • Licensed clinical mental health counselor (LCMHC)
  • Licensed mental health practitioner (LMHP)

Five benefits of working with a LPC

1. Experience and expertise

LPCs are required to undergo extensive education and training before working with clients. Many LPCs even choose to specialize in a certain area, such as family therapy, marriage counseling, or substance use. If you decide to start counseling, look for a LPC who has the knowledge and skills to provide effective therapeutic interventions for your specific needs. 

2. Safe and confidential environment

LPCs are trained to provide a safe and confidential environment for their clients. In fact, they’re required to follow a strict code of ethics, which includes protecting client confidentiality and privacy. 

This type of privacy is extremely valuable for the therapeutic relationship. For the client, it makes it easier to open up, be vulnerable, and build trust. And in return, your therapist is better positioned to understand your circumstances and provide more effective guidance. 

3. Tailored treatment plans

On your first visit with a LPC, they’ll make a point of getting to know you and what brought you to therapy. They’ll ask questions about your life, what you do, what you enjoy, and who you live with. This isn’t to be nosy, but to better understand your circumstances and how they can best support your individual needs. 

4. Collaborative approach to goals

If you’re looking for a collaborative approach to addressing your mental health concerns, counseling might be a good fit for you. LPCs are trained to help people understand their needs, set realistic goals, and create strategies to reach those goals, leading to a greater sense of productivity and accomplishment.

5. Skill-building 

When we’re struggling in life, sometimes we just need the tools to help ourselves process and overcome the problem. That’s where counseling can help. LPCs are trained to teach coping skills, communication techniques, and other tools to promote behavior change and improve mental health.

Find an LPC with Rula 

Whether you’re seeking professional support for the first time or you’re looking for new ways to improve your mental health, Rula is here to support you. 

Rula believes in a client-centered approach to care which means that everything we do starts with understanding your specific situation and circumstances. Our network of therapists and other mental health professionals are available to listen to your story, evaluate your needs, and build a personalized treatment plan just for you. 

Find therapists near you

New York, NYHouston, TXRancho Cucamonga, CAAustin, TXChicago, ILLos Angeles, CAColumbus, OHPortland, ORDallas, TXJacksonville, FLCharlotte, NCDenver, COHuntsville, ALPhiladelphia, PASeattle, WAFind your city

More From Rula

April 18, 2024
What causes low self-esteem? Six ways to feel better about yourself

If you have low self-esteem, there are things you can do to boost your confidence.

April 17, 2024
Understanding existential anxiety and how to cope

For people with existential anxiety, life’s big questions can cause extreme distress.