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Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC)
An Overview

California Business and Professions Code 4999.10 - 4999.122

SB 788 (Wyland, Steinberg) became law January 2010. Applications became available from California's Board of Behavioral Sciences in July 2011.

California was the 50th state to license Professional Counselors. There are more than 144,000 LPCs in the other 49 states. Licensed Professional Counselors are commonly called LPCs, but California includes the word “clinical” in the license title to recognize additional clinical standards and the clinical exam.

Scope of Practice: See 4999.20
“Professional clinical counseling” means the application of counseling interventions and psychotherapeutic techniques to identify and remediate cognitive, mental and emotional issues, including personal growth, adjustment to disability, crisis intervention, and psychosocial and environmental problems.

“Counseling interventions and psychotherapeutic techniques” means the application of cognitive, affective, verbal or nonverbal, systemic or holistic counseling strategies that include principles of development, wellness, and maladjustment.

The requirements for licensure as a Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) are comparable to those of Marriage and Family Therapists (MFTs) and Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSWs) in California and to those of Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) in 49 states.

Education: See 4999.33
To qualify for a license or registration, applicants shall possess a 60 semester-unit master’s or doctoral degree, that is counseling or psychotherapy in content. A degree is considered to be “counseling or psychotherapy in content,” if it contains coursework in 13 core content areas: counseling and psychotherapeutic theories and techniques, human growth and development, career development, group counseling, assessment and testing, multicultural counseling, principles of the diagnostic process, research and evaluation, psychopharmacology, addictions counseling, crisis or trauma counseling, advanced counseling and psychotherapeutic theories and techniques and law and ethics in counseling.

The degree must include 6 semester-units of supervised practicum or field study and 15 semester- units of advanced coursework to develop knowledge of specific treatment issues or special populations. The degree must also include coursework in child abuse assessment, spousal or partner abuse assessment, human sexuality case management, systems of care for the severely mentally ill, the understanding of human behavior within the social context of cultures found in California and the principles of mental health recovery-oriented care.

Supervision: See 4999.42, 4999.44, 4999.45, 4999.455, 4999.46, 4999.47
Completion of 3,000 post-degree hours of supervised clinical mental health experience related to the practice of professional counseling, performed over a period of not less than two years under the supervision of an approved supervisor.

Examination: See 4999.52, 4999.53, 4999.55
Successful passage of the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) and the California LPCC Law & Ethics Examination.

Reciprocity: See 4999.60 and 4999.63
Professional counselors, who hold a valid license in another jurisdiction of the United States, may qualify to be licensed in California, if their license allowed them to provide clinical mental health services independently, if their education and supervised experience are substantially equivalent, if they complete 18 contact hours in California law and ethics and if they successfully complete the examinations required by the Board. Requirements for out-of-state applicants, who do not hold a license in another state, are found in 4999.61 and 4999.62

Exemptions: See 4999.22.
This law does not apply to members of the clergy, lawyers, physicians, or employees of governmental entities, educational institutions, or nonprofit and charitable agencies.

Nothing in this article shall prevent qualified persons from doing work of a psychosocial nature consistent with the standards and ethics of their respective professions, however, they shall not hold themselves out to the public as “licensed professional clinical counselors.”

This law will not constrict, limit, or withdraw provisions of the Medical Practice Act, the Social Work Licensing Law, the Nursing Practice Act, the Psychology Licensing Law, or Marriage and Family Therapy licensing laws.

Oversight: See 4999.48, 4999.50, 4999.51
The existing Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS), which regulates master’s-level LMFTs and LCSWs, regulates LPCCs. Applicants must successfully pass state and federal criminal background checks through the Department of Justice.

Insurance Reimbursement: California State Plan Amendment (SPA) approved December 18, 2012 by the Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services  California LPCCs and interns have been approved as providers for Medi-Cal through the county mental health system and will have the same requirements and privileges as LMFTs, LCSWs and interns in California. Many private insurance companies accept California LPCCs as providers.

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