This post will help you get that lpc application approved – the first time. How do I find a qualified LPC clinical supervisor? How do I know if the board will approve my work setting? How do I know how many hours or years I need to complete?
LPC Educational Requirements
GA Composite board rules require a graduate degree that is “…primarily counseling in content”. A masters degree in Sociology is not acceptable to the board because it is not primarily counseling in content. A degree in Professional Counseling is acceptable.
Masters in Psychology or Special Education could be eligible. It largely depends on the titles and content of the courses required. It must be a program in applied counseling not experimental or theoretical knowledge. For example, a course “Group Counseling” is acceptable whereas “Cultural Anthropology and Groups” is not. Why? The latter is not applied counseling. For more details read rules “Definitions”, paragraph 8. You also must pass a national exam further explained in “Requirements for Licensure, paragraph 3. As you read further, you may want to read my The Art of Reading Board Rules. The page will open in a new browser window.
Years of Required Directed Experience Under Clinical Supervision
One year: 600 hours of directed experience and 30 hours of Supervision over a period of minimum 12 and maximum 20 months. 800 hours in 11 months is not acceptable. You can’t reduce or accelerate the calendar year requirement. Must be minimum 12 calendar months. You have up to 20 months to complete that one year. After September 30 2018, these requirements increase: One year is minimum 1000 hours directed experience and 35 hours Supervision. Very important: only months which you are under Direction and Supervision simultaneously will be eligible. You cannot practice if you are not under supervision.
A: The rules state that you have until September 30th 2018 to obtain a clinical supervisor under the current requirements–generally, the supervisor must have 3 years post-licensure experience and no additional credential. In other words, any current board eligible supervisor you execute a contract with prior to that date will be acceptable throughout your supervision with them. Hypothetically, if you enter into a supervision agreement on September 30, 2018 you may stay with them as long as you like. However, if you change supervisorson October 1, 2018 that new supervisor will need either the Licensed Professional Counselors Association of Georgia Certified Professional Clinical Supervisor (CPCS) or the National Board for Certified Counselors Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS) credential.
How do I Know if My Job Will be accepted by the Board
A: There are no guarantees your work setting will be accepted by the board. First, try to find a work setting or organization that has a track record with the board. Ask the director if they have had any problems with the board approving their work setting. Most employment or contract work in government settings is acceptable. Private treatment programs that have been historically accepted include Rebecca Beaton’s Anxiety and Stress Management Institute and Peachford Hospital. There are many other private treatment programs which are acceptable. Private psychiatric practices in which you receive either a W2 or 1099 are often acceptable. Smaller private practice organizations can be acceptable to the board. You CAN find that perfect therapy work site.
For any of the sites above, you must document on the duties section of the directed experience form that you are doing psychotherapy. Whether your site is acceptable to the board is very much dependent upon you demonstrating the site has structure, a comprehensive system for monitoring your work and policies/procedures for discipline and intervention with your client work. This is critical.
Can I Work in Practice Practice Psychotherapy as an LPC?
A: It is possible. Remember: In Georgia, LAPC (Licensed Associate Professional Counselor or in some states, ALPC license) and LPC are governed under the same scope of practice. The difference is that as an LAPC, you must be under direction and supervision simultaneously. That is critical.
A private practice setting in which you are working on your own without any structure or intervention, bears no resemblance to employment or you are not receiving training and administrative oversight will likely be denied as an acceptable work setting.
Q: What do you recommend for a work setting?
Where Can I Find The Best LPC Jobs and Work Settings?
A: How to find a counseling job. Your goal should be to find a site that provides clinical mental health experience. Severe mental illness. Addiction. Facilities such as Grady Memorial Hospital Psychiatry in Atlanta, Ridgeview Institute in Smyrna Georgia or a community service board are excellent training grounds. In the absence of this type of training, it may limit your skills. If you must, seek this training post-licensure. This also applies to social workers and marriage and family therapists.
Q. How do I find a qualified supervisor?
A. Interview several. Determine if their approach provides a level structure suited to you. A supervising relationship should consist of authority, mentoring, and someone you want to learn from. Seek a supervisor that wants to help develop you clinically, personally and professionally. One of the greatest challenges of having a job where your supervisor is also your boss is that you cannot be open with them. If you have an offsite independent clinical supervisor, that conflict of interest can be eliminated.
Q.What happens in a supervision session? It seems shrouded in mystery!
A. Supervisors will highlight areas that need improvement. You being a student you will have discussions with your supervisor about your clients, and your supervisor will question you. The supervisor will give you notes and ideas and you should apply these suggestions. It should be an interactive relationship. In addition, you should be open to constructive feedback on personal issues which may be interfering with your counseling and psychotherapy. Your supervisor may inquire about childhood trauma and abuse to determine if these are unresolved and therefore negatively impacting your work. They may require you see a therapist. Generally, your supervisor should be supportive, confident, reliable and consistent.
Q. How do I know if I am cut out for this work? For example, How do I even know if I will be a qualified counselor?
A. You have to decide whether you enjoy counseling people. You will find this work frustrating if you believe clients are not changing quickly. The work will be hazardous if you become involved with a client’s matters that are outside the scope of psychotherapy. This is referred to as boundary issues. Blurred boundaries include trying to find them a job, transacting other business or any advocacy work that is not directly related to treatment. Remember: we are licensed to treat mental disorders through psychotherapy. Also, if you are not comfortable with diversity you may be more content in a different career. If you can separate your personal life from work and view it as a vocation. If you are self aware and don’t have a rigid coping style. If you understand that you can learn from other therapists–even those less experienced. If you understand that a client drives personal change- not you.
Q. Finally, what would you say to graduate level counselors pursuing state licensing on how to have a successful career?
A. Acquire and be eager to learn business skills. Be able to reconcile that even though you are helping someone, you need to seek at least the average income for counselors or social workers. Be open to learning and criticism. Seeing a therapist as a therapist is almost required. You cannot sell a product you do not believe in yourself. Find a specialty. Don’t be a generalist. Seek training in that specialty and obtain a credential. Strive to be the best at that specialty so you can become an expert in it.
If you really want to be a great therapist, cover these 3 bases:
1. Obtain solid training in clinical mental health and addiction.
2. Remember that your practice is a business.
3. Find your own therapist and work very hard. You can only help a client through their emotional struggles if you are actively working on your own struggles.
Eric Groh has worked in the mental field in Georgia or 30 years. For 16 years he has maintained a thriving Atlanta psychotherapy and ethics consultant practice. He processed over 7000 LPC applications and 200 licensee complaints while serving a 7 year governors appointment to the Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage and Family Therapists. He specializes in the treatment of dissociative disorders and gambling disorder .