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Become A Licensed Professional Counselor

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Working As A Licensed Professional Counselor

  • Assisting and Caring for Others
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • $41,880

    Average Salary

What Does A Licensed Professional Counselor Do

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists help people manage and overcome mental and emotional disorders and problems with their family and other relationships. They listen to clients and ask questions to help the clients understand their problems and develop strategies to improve their lives.

Duties

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists typically do the following:

  • Diagnose and treat mental and emotional disorders, such as anxiety and depression
  • Encourage clients to discuss their emotions and experiences
  • Help clients process their reactions and adjust to difficult changes in their life, such as divorce and layoffs
  • Guide clients through the process of making decisions about their future
  • Help clients develop strategies and skills to change their behavior and to cope with difficult situations
  • Refer clients to other resources or services in the community, such as support groups or inpatient treatment facilities

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists use a variety of techniques and tools to help their clients. Many apply cognitive behavioral therapy, a goal-oriented approach that helps clients understand harmful thoughts, feelings, and beliefs and teaches how to replace them with positive, life-enhancing ones. Furthermore, mental health counselors use cognitive behavioral therapy to teach clients to eliminate unwanted and damaging behaviors and to replace them with more productive ones.

Although some disorders can be overcome, others need to be managed. With the latter, mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists help the client develop strategies and skills to minimize the effects of their disorders or illnesses.

Many mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists work in private practice. They must spend time marketing their practice to prospective clients and working with insurance companies and clients to get payment for their services.

Mental health counselors provide treatment to individuals, families, couples, and groups. Some work with specific populations, such as the elderly, college students, or children. Mental health counselors deal with a variety of issues, including anxiety, depression, grief, low self-esteem, stress, and suicidal impulses. They also help with mental and emotional health issues and relationship problems. 

Marriage and family therapists work with individuals, couples, and families. Unlike other types of mental health professionals, they bring a family-centered perspective to treatment, even when treating individuals. They evaluate family roles and development, to understand how clients’ families affect their mental health. They treat the clients’ relationships, not just the clients themselves. They address issues, such as low self-esteem, stress, addiction, and substance abuse.

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists coordinate patient treatment with other professionals, such as psychiatrists and social workers.

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How To Become A Licensed Professional Counselor

Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists are typically required to have a master’s degree and a license to practice.

Education

To become a mental health counselor or a marriage and family therapist, applicants typically need a master’s degree in psychology, clinical mental health counseling, marriage and family therapy, or a related mental health field. A bachelor’s degree in most fields is acceptable to enter a master’s program.

Counseling programs prepare students to recognize symptoms of mental and emotional disorders and to use effective counseling strategies. Marriage and family therapy programs teach students about how marriages, families, and relationships function and how these relationships can affect mental and emotional disorders.

Many employers prefer to hire counselors who have graduated from programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs.

Training

Candidates gain hands-on experience through postdegree supervised clinical work, sometimes referred to as an internship or residency. In training, they learn to provide family therapy, group therapy, psychotherapy, and other therapeutic interventions, under the supervision of a licensed counselor.

Licenses

All states require mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists to be licensed in the state in which they practice. Licensure requires a master’s degree and 2,000 to 4,000 hours of postdegree supervised clinical experience, sometimes referred to as an internship or residency. In addition, counselors and therapists must pass a state-recognized exam and complete annual continuing education classes.

Contact information for state boards regulating mental health counselors is available through the National Board for Certified Counselors.

Contact and licensing information for marriage and family therapists is available through the Association of Marital and Family Therapy Regulatory Boards.

Important Qualities

Compassion. Counselors and therapists often work with people who are dealing with stressful and difficult situations, so they must be compassionate and empathize with their clients.

Interpersonal skills. Being able to work with different types of people is essential for counselors and therapists. They spend most of their time working directly with clients and other professionals and must be able to encourage good relationships.

Listening skills. Good listening skills are essential for mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists, both of whom need to give their full attention to their clients to understand their problems, values, and goals.

Organizational skills. Good organizational skills are especially important for counselors and therapists in private practice, who must keep track of payments and work with insurance companies.

Speaking skills. Mental health counselors and marriage and family therapists need to be able to communicate with clients effectively. They must express ideas and information in a way that clients can understand easily.

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Licensed Professional Counselor jobs

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Licensed Professional Counselor Career Paths

Licensed Professional Counselor
Program Counselor Case Manager Clinical Director
Administrative Director, Behavioral Health Services
11 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Instructor Instructor Case Manager
Career Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Clinical Director Chief Executive Officer Specialist
Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Therapist And Program Manager Program Director Career Manager
Clinical Care Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Family Counselor Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Director
9 Yearsyrs
Clinical Psychologist Clinical Supervisor
Clinical Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Clinical Director Adjunct Instructor Adjunct Faculty
Clinical Supervisor
8 Yearsyrs
Family Counselor Social Worker
Director Of Social Services
6 Yearsyrs
Career Manager Senior Technician Specialist Case Manager
Family Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Therapist And Program Manager Clinical Director
Health Director
9 Yearsyrs
Program Counselor Registered Nurse Occupational Health Nurse
Health Services Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Family Consultant Family Support Specialist Case Manager
Housing Case Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Clinical Counselor Therapist
Lead Therapist
5 Yearsyrs
School Psychologist Clinical Psychologist Clinical Director
Outpatient Services Director
9 Yearsyrs
Family Consultant Case Manager
Senior Case Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Adjunct Instructor Instructional Designer Program Manager
Service Program Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Clinical Psychologist Mental Health Consultant Medical Social Worker
Social Services Manager
5 Yearsyrs
School Psychologist Adjunct Professor Clinical Social Worker
Social Work Case Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Clinical Counselor Mental Health Counselor Social Worker
Social Work Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Career Manager Clinical Case Manager Therapist
Therapist And Program Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Pastoral Counselor 4.8 years
Psychotherapist 4.1 years
Clinical Therapist 2.9 years
Therapist 2.6 years
Clinical Counselor 2.6 years
Primary Counselor 2.4 years
Family Counselor 2.3 years
Counselor 2.0 years
Top Employers Before
Internship 11.0%
Counselor 10.3%
Therapist 7.8%
Clinician 3.7%
Teacher 2.9%
Volunteer 2.7%
Top Employers After
Therapist 10.3%
Counselor 7.9%
Clinician 5.0%
Internship 4.2%
Owner 3.4%
Supervisor 3.3%

Licensed Professional Counselor Demographics

Gender

Female

70.6%

Male

27.5%

Unknown

1.9%
Ethnicity

White

81.5%

Hispanic or Latino

9.2%

Asian

6.9%

Unknown

1.7%

Black or African American

0.7%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

62.3%

French

8.7%

German

4.3%

Portuguese

2.9%

Romanian

2.9%

Persian

2.9%

Russian

2.9%

Swedish

1.4%

Hungarian

1.4%

Turkish

1.4%

Korean

1.4%

Japanese

1.4%

Cherokee

1.4%

Arabic

1.4%

Thai

1.4%

Carrier

1.4%
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Licensed Professional Counselor Education

Schools

Liberty University

13.4%

Capella University

11.1%

Walden University

9.6%

Webster University

7.6%

University of Phoenix

6.0%

University of North Texas

5.8%

Texas A&M University

4.5%

Argosy University-Atlanta

4.3%

University of Northern Colorado

3.8%

University of Texas at San Antonio

3.8%

Chicago School of Professional Psychology

3.8%

Grand Canyon University

3.8%

Troy University

3.5%

Georgia State University

3.3%

Missouri State University

3.0%

University of Missouri - Saint Louis

2.8%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

2.5%

Kent State University

2.5%

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

2.5%

Idaho State University

2.5%
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Majors

School Counseling

33.3%

Counseling Psychology

18.9%

Mental Health Counseling

12.1%

Psychology

7.3%

Family Therapy

4.1%

Education

4.0%

Clinical Psychology

4.0%

Rehabilitation Science

3.4%

Educational Leadership

2.3%

Business

2.0%

Social Work

1.7%

Human Services

1.2%

Pastoral Counseling And Specialized Ministries

1.0%

Special Education

0.8%

Elementary Education

0.7%

Human Resources Management

0.7%

Philosophy

0.6%

Nursing

0.6%

Criminal Justice

0.6%

Health Care Administration

0.6%
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Degrees

Masters

68.0%

Other

10.8%

Doctorate

9.8%

Bachelors

7.3%

Certificate

2.6%

Associate

1.0%

License

0.5%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary

Real Licensed Professional Counselor Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Licensed Professional Counselor Community Care Service, LLC Durham, NC Nov 04, 2011 $100,176
Licensed Professional Counselor Community Care Service, LLC Durham, NC Nov 08, 2011 $100,176
Licensing Professional University of Notre Dame Du Lac Notre Dame, IN Sep 30, 2015 $98,500
Licensed Professional Counselor Center of Revitalizing Psychiatry, PC Hackensack, NJ Oct 01, 2011 $45,000
Licensed Professional Counselor Fort Valley State University Fort Valley, GA Aug 01, 2015 $41,309 -
$45,000
Licensed Professional Counselor Center of Revitalizing Psychiatry, PC Hackensack, NJ Oct 01, 2011 $40,000
Pre-Licensed Counseling Professional Fritz A Galette Psychologist PC New York, NY Sep 14, 2016 $37,566
Licensed Professional Counselor Fort Valley State University Fort Valley, GA Aug 01, 2012 $35,000
Licensed Professional Counselor Fort Valley State University Fort Valley, GA Aug 17, 2009 $35,000

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Top Skills for A Licensed Professional Counselor

FamilyTherapySessionsIndividualTreatmentPlansMentalHealthServicesCrisisInterventionSubstanceAbuseIssuesAnxietyDisordersDualDiagnosisGroupTherapySessionsPrivatePracticeSettingProfessionalCounselorTraumaChildIntakeAssessmentsGriefAngerManagementIndividualTherapyCognitiveBehavioralTherapyReferralLPCCommunityResources

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Top Licensed Professional Counselor Skills

  1. Family Therapy Sessions
  2. Individual Treatment Plans
  3. Mental Health Services
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Facilitated Family therapy sessions to help troubled youth/family rebuild damaged relationships.
  • Developed and review integrated individual treatment plans.
  • Coordinate with the client to ensure appropriate mental health services within the agency or within the community.
  • Provide crisis intervention in situations requiring psychological treatment.
  • Provided clinical treatment for outpatients with HIV/AIDS and substance abuse issues.

Top Licensed Professional Counselor Employers

Licensed Professional Counselor Videos

A Day in the Life of a School Counselor

Therapist (Licensed Professional Counselor), Career Video from drkit.org

Licensed Professional Counselor, Private Practice

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