*** Disclaimer- if this is a crisis situation or you are having active thoughts of wanting to harm yourself or someone else, please call 911, go to your nearest ER, Text Crisisline at “741741”, or call the Suicide Crisis Hotline at 1-800-273-8255***
Considering therapy or counseling? It’s a difficult decision to come to. And can be even more challenging to follow through with it. We get it, on a professional level and personal level. Hopefully this information can make the process seem a little less daunting. If completely overwhelmed scroll down to “Even More Lost…”
Licensed Professional Counselors: LPCs or Licensed Professional Counselors are highly trained mental health therapists. This profession is growing at a rapid rate across the US and is expanding into areas outside of mental health, such as healthcare, academic counseling, assessments for the family court system, family mediation, and more! There is a 3 tier system of Professional Counselors in Louisiana (and this appears common across the US). The PLPC- or Provisional LPC, the LPC, and the LPC-S which is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor. All of these require a Bachelor Degree typically in a human service field and then a Master Degree from an accredited Counseling Program.
In order to become an PLPC, you must graduate with your Master Degree in counseling, and pass the National Counselor Exam. To become an LPC, the PLPC must complete 3000 hours of supervised practice under an LPC-S and work in the “field” a minimum of 2 years…..So essentially a minimum of 6 years of college, unpaid counseling internships, passing a National Exam, becoming licensed, Supervision after graduation for at least 2 years, further licensure, and let’s not forget requirements of continued education. LPCs are well trained Counselors with a particular focus on the various types and modalities of therapy.
Although this is covering more about LPCs, in your therapy search you will also find PLPCs and LMFTs. Thus Provisional LPCs are allowed to provide independent therapy as long as they are under active supervision. An LMFT is a degree and specialization, that is commonly seen with LPCs. The LMFT stands for Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. And thus this should be considered if you are seeking couples therapy (I attached several links below to learn more). Completely confused on what type of therapist to work with? I’ll try to assist at the bottom!
So where can I find a Licensed Professional Counselor? In school settings, mental health agencies, in courtrooms providing witness testimony, in Private Practice, in Management Positions across many different areas, as Court Appointed Meditators, as Play Therapist Specialists, Providing Tele-therapy across the country, Speaking at Conventions, Advocating for Mental Healthcare, Inpatient & Outpatient Psychiatric Hospitals, Substance Abuse Treatment, Insurance Companies Behavioral Health Utilization, Case-management, this list doesn’t stop!
How will I know if someone is an LPC? They will have an Counseling Master Degree, a passed National Counseling Exam, and an active LPC license in their state of practice. You can look up to see if their license is active on the Louisiana Professional Board of Examiners (link below).
Do LPCs provide therapy? Absolutely… that’s what they are trained in! Each LPC has their own area of specialities, and so you want to consider that when looking to choose one.
How are LPCs different from other counseling providers? Their training is specifically in counseling and the mental health field. They do have a different “school of thought” or way that they work like all mental health professionals.
They have a very uniform licensing process across the US vs state to state. And are able to provide out of state counseling via the internet because of this. They also have different licenses or additional credentialing requirements. Such as licenses in Play Therapy, Art Therapy, Marriage and Family Therapy, etc.
How do I find an LPC? It depends on your financial situation, where you live, and a their availability. One step is to consider your insurance or lack of. If you have insurance, you can call the number on the back of your card under Behavioral Health benefits. And they can assist you with finding an LPC or give you a list of LPC’s that are covered by your plan. Some things to consider are recommendations from friends, family, or social media. Referrals from other clients or providers who know the LPC is often the best way to go. However other options for finding a local LPC is research through the website Psychology Today (will link below) or Social Media in General. As we know, Social Media is definitely a place to learn more about professionals. However not every provider is going to be active on Social Media, and that needs to be considered.
Even more lost? Hope this streamlines it for you. Okay, Okay. So if you are seeking traditional weekly counseling in a Outpatient Therapeutic (aka Behavioral Health/ Mental Health) environment then your choices are starting to look like an LCSW or an LPC (this does not include Substance Abuse Counselors). Therapy is so individual. It essentially comes down to what will help you. Each Profession has strengths and weaknesses. And with that aside, start seeing the person (Therapist) vs the letters behind their name. Hope that helps;)Considerations for a therapist? Make a list of traits that would make you feel most comfortable (its okay to admit that you want a therapist with specific requirements). You deserve a therapist that is competent in the areas that you need assistance with and someone that you feel comfortable talking to.
If you do not have health insurance: your State has local mental health clinics that provide Mental Health Care at no charge. For example in St . Tammany Parish, Louisiana, the “Florida Parishes Human Resources Department” has several clinics like this where you can receive free or low cost treatment. They even have walk in hours (meaning you can walk in when they are open). If you need help finding one call Vialink or 211. I have included direct links to some websites for free treatment.
I hope that you find this helpful and I will continue providing information on how to navigate mental health care. Thanks! Angie