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THE LPCC (Licensed professional Clinical Counselors)

Licensure Requirements

  1. Requirements for Out-of-State:  Applies to counselors who have earned a degree from a university based outside of California. 
  2. Requirements before 2012: Applies to those who began graduate study before August 1, 2012 and will complete that study on or before December 31, 2018.
  3. Requirements after 2012: Applies to those who begin graduate study on or after August 1, 2012, or who began graduate study before 2012, but do not complete that study before 2018.

View the descriptions of the core content areas, required for licensure.

View providers of required continuing education, graduate courses, and exam study programs.

The Process:

  1. Counselors will complete a graduate degree that includes the LPCC requirements. See links above for requirements.
  2. Next, counselors will apply to the BBS to register as a Professional Clinical Counselor Intern (PCCI) to earn their 3,000 supervised hours over a minimum of two years and a maximum of six years.  Applicants will have one year, from the date of their letter of deficiencies, to complete any education deficiencies outlined by the BBS.  All education requirements must be completed before the intern number can be assigned.
  3. The LPCC Law & Ethics Exam is taken in the first year of internship and the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam is taken when all supervised hours are complete.  An exam must be attempted at least once a year until all have been passed.

This process can take several years, since applicants will have one year to complete the application, one year to complete deficiencies after Board notification, one year to complete each exam and up to six years to complete the 3,000 supervised hours.

Counselors licensed in other states, who are applying for the LPCC in California, may have already met these requirements, so their path to licensure will be expedited.

Traditional Path 

Licensing Requirements before 2012

Following is a summary of requirements for those who began graduate studyBEFORE AUGUST 1, 2012and will complete that study on or beforeDecember 31, 2018.

Education: A 48-semester-unit master’s or doctoral degree from an accredited or approved institution, which is counseling or psychotherapy in content, includes 6 semester units or 9 quarter units of supervised practicum or fieldwork study, and contains at least 3 semester units, or four and one half quarter units, of coursework in 7 of the following 9 core content areas. All 9 core content areas must be completed before education can be approved. 

No more than two core content areas can be added post-degree.  Units cannot be added post-degree to make the 48-unit requirement.  Supervised practicum units cannot be added post-degree.

  • (A)  Counseling and psychotherapeutic theories and techniques (includes counseling theories, selection of counseling interventions, orientation to wellness and prevention, etc.)
  • (B)  Human growth and development across the lifespan (includes psychopathology, normal and abnormal behavior, developmental crises)
  • (C)  Career development theories and techniques
  • (D)  Group counseling theories and techniques
  • (E)  Assessment, appraisal and testing
  • (F)  Multicultural counseling theories and techniques
  • (G)  Principles of diagnosis, treatment planning and prevention of mental and emotional disorders and dysfunctional behavior
  • (H)  Research and evaluation
  • (I)  Professional orientation, ethics and law in counseling
  • View definitions of each core content area.

In addition to the course requirements described above, a minimum of 12 semester units of advanced coursework to develop knowledge of specific treatment issues, special populations, application of counseling constructs, assessment and treatment planning, clinical interventions, therapeutic relationships, psychopathology or other clinical topics.

In addition to, or as part of the graduate degree, instruction in each of the following topics must be completed prior to licensure or registration as an intern:

Note:With the exception of the course in psychopharmacology, which is a university graduate or undergraduate credit course, the following requirements can be fulfilled with either university courses or  continuing education courses. SeeCourse Providerson this website for available courses.

  • (1)  Minimum of 15 contact hours of instruction in alcoholism and other chemical substance dependency
  • (2)  Minimum of 10 contact hours of instruction in human sexuality
  • (3)  Minimum of 15 contact hours of instruction in spousal or partner abuse
  • (4)  Minimum of seven contact hours of instruction in child abuse assessment & reporting
  • (5)  Minimum of 18 contact hours of instruction in California law and professional ethics, if not included in required core content area
  • (6)  Minimum of 10 contact hours of instruction in aging and long-term care
  • (7)  Minimum of 15 contact hours of instruction in crisis/trauma counseling

  • Note: Unlike the above courses, which may be taken as continuing education credit, the following course may be taken post-degree, but it must be a graduate or undergraduate university credit course.
  • (8)  Two-semester unit or three quarter-unit survey course in psychopharmacology

View section4999.32in the LPCC law, regarding education for those who began graduate study before 2012 and complete that study on before 2018.

Supervision:  A minimum of 3,000 post-degree hours of supervised experience, by a LPCC, LMFT, LCSW, licensed psychologist or licensed physician and surgeon, who is certified in psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, over a period of not less than two years, including not less than 1,750 hours of direct counseling with individuals or groups in a clinical mental health counseling setting and 150 hours in a hospital or community mental health setting.  Note that LPCC supervisors must have been licensed in California for two years.

Examination: Passing score on the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Examination (NCMHCE) and the California LPCC Law and Ethics exam.

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