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Professional Licensure: Counseling

There are three levels of professional licensure available to counseling professionals: Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) and National Certified Counselor (NCC). Each level of licensure includes its own educational and examination requirements, as detailed below.

Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)

Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) certification is the first level of certification for professional counselors. To become an LPC, you must meet certain education and examination requirements, including earning a master's degree in counseling or a related field and passing the National Board for Certified Counselors' National Counselor Examination.1 Learn more about becoming an LPC.

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC)

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) certification is the next step up from LPC certification. To achieve this higher licensing in the state of Illinois, you must complete two years (or the equivalent) of counseling work under supervision. Each year of experience must include at least 960 hours of face-to-face counseling with clients, completed within 48 weeks.2

Those who hold a master's degree must have completed all degree requirements before beginning the required experience. If you hold a doctoral degree, you can count up to one year of experience that you earned as an intern while completing your education. When you attain LPC certification, you can also count volunteer work toward your required experience.3

If you complete your supervised experience requirement in Illinois, your supervisor must be a licensed clinical counselor, psychiatrist, clinical psychologist or licensed social worker. You are responsible for meeting with your supervisor at least one hour per week to review your counseling and case management skills. In order to obtain LCPC certification, your supervisor must evaluate you as at least "satisfactory."4

When all supervised experience requirements have been met, you may apply for the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination — a process that is similar to applying for the LPC exam. The state of Illinois will also accept either the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Examination or the Examination of Clinical Counselor Practice.5

National Certified Counselor (NCC)

National Certified Counselor (NCC) is the highest level of certification for the counseling industry offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). NCC certification shows employers and colleagues that you have chosen to meet the highest national standards for the practice of professional counseling. As a National Certified Counselor, you earn the use of the NCC certification mark and gain access to low-cost liability insurance and national advocacy efforts for the counseling industry, among other benefits.6

To become an NCC, you must hold a master's degree in counseling that includes at least 48 semester hours (or 72 quarter hours) of graduate-level academic credit in counseling. Coursework must include the following nine areas of study:7

1. Assessment in Counseling
2. Career Counseling and Lifestyle Development
3. Counseling Field Experience
4. Group Counseling Theories and Processes
5. Helping Relationships in Counseling
6. Human Growth and Development Theories in Counseling
7. Professional Orientation to Counseling
8. Research and Program Evaluation
9. Social and Cultural Foundations in Counseling

In addition, you must complete at least 100 documented hours of counseling supervision and at least 3,000 hours of counseling work experience. Finally, you must pass the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE).8

Source References [+]
  1. "Illinois Mental Health Counselors."
  2. "Illinois Mental Health Counselors."
  3. "Illinois Mental Health Counselors."
  4. "Illinois Mental Health Counselors."
  5. "Illinois Mental Health Counselors."
  6. "National Certified Counselor (NCC)."
  7. "National Certified Counselor (NCC)."
  8. "National Certified Counselor (NCC)."

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