LPC + California = Long Overdue!

My new years resolution is to do everything I can to help promote the legislative issues surrounding the LPC and its passing in the State Senate. This is extremely important to me because I was not educated in California, and therefore do not have the required degree to become licensed in this state. Currently, Social Workers, Associate Clinical Social Workers and Marriage and Family Therapists are able to be licensed in California. California is the last state not to have the LPC license.

The purpose of having an LPC license is not to take away jobs from the LCSWs or the MFTs, but to protect the rights of clients and regulate counselors that are not currently licensed by the state. The LPC license would help monitor and standardize the ethics, quality of care and level of expertise of the mental health professionals in the State of California. The LPC standards set up by the California Coalition for Councelor Licensure parallel the LCSW and MFT license requirements in the state of California.

For various reasons, I cannot simply take the few extra courses that it would take for me to parallel my MA degree in Creative Arts in Therapy from Drexel University with the technical requirements for a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy or Social Work. If the LPC does not pass I will have no choice but to go back to school, which is both an expensive and frustrating prospect- especially because the courses that I already completed with my current MA may not be recognized by other Universities. Higher educational institutions are notorious for forcing students to retake classes they’ve already taken…anyone who has tried to transfer credits from one school to another knows this all too well.

So…what to do? Check out the NorCATA website, specifically the legislative issues page. Here, you will find information about what happened last year to the LPC bill and who to contact/how to help this year. I know last year I received many emails asking me to print out and fax letters to my congressman/woman to support the bill. With the renewal of my NorCATA membership this year I also provided a donation to the cause.

Every little bit helps…even words of support by art therapists in other states who are not facing this issue.

39 Replies to “LPC + California = Long Overdue!”

  1. Thank you for pointing this out James. I actually didn’t know that the AAMFT and the CAMFT are not affiliated. On the NorCATA legislative issues page, the neutrality of the CAMFT is mentioned, as well as on the California Coalition for Councelor Licensure website. (I realized that I linked the NorCATA legislative issues page to the wrong site, and have now corrected it, if you’re interested in seeing what’s written there.)

    I am not privy to the exact information as to why the California Chapter of the AAMFT continues to oppose this bill– or the California Psychological Association, for that matter, but I hope we have better luck in presenting our case in the Senate this year. From what I read on the NorCATA website, it seemed that the split between those who supported or where neutral versus those who opposed the bill led to confusion and perhaps Senators deciding to err on the side of caution.

    Also, I checked out your site and I really like its set up. Its a wonderful model for those who are interested in creating a website for their private practice. I especially like the ideas of a FAQ page and the Forms and Maps page.

  2. Hi Liz!

    First, I am sorry to hear about your hospitalization and I hope you feel better soon.

    Second, you are preaching to the choir! I don’t know if you remember me – I graduated from the Drexel program last year. (Carrie Adcock). Our time overlapped at Friends together a couple years ago. In August, I got married and moved to California as well. I am having such a hard time finding a job because I do not have the MFT degree. It is very frustrating. I am new to all of this, but want to help you move this process along. Going back to school is not an option. Would that be the only way to move towards licensure? You got my support!

    Get well soon,

  3. Hi Carrie!

    Where are you in California? I’m sorry we’re in the same boat, but at the same time its great to get some understanding and support.

    From what I’m understanding going back to school is the only option at this point. What I’m doing, is I checked on the California LPC website that I linked to earlier, which lists the requirements of the LPC if it does pass. The courses they want you to have parallel the MFT and LCSW requirements, and there are several courses we still need to take having graduated from Drexel. I’m taking those courses as a part of a continuing ed program at a local University, so that way if the LPC passes, I’m all set to go, but also if I have to go back to school, hopefully the school will give me credit for the newly taken courses and it’ll make my degree getting shorter. Thats my plan anyways…

    Also, I’m feeling much much better, but unfortunately with a chronic illness there’s always ongoing things that must be kept in check.

    – Liz

  4. hi liz!

    great to see your article. it’s so very frustrating…. i have an lcpc in chicago and have been faced with this issue for a long time now as well. my understanding is that our license will be “approved/recognized” in california as of january 2011, meantime allowing the state sufficient time to create examinations for us to take as part of the approval process itself. kind of sad to me, given that the main reason i want to relocate there is to work with ptsd-afflicted veterans of this war on one of the largest military bases in the country, and i’m not allowed to, not because of lack of experience or credentials, because of the letters of my license.
    anyway, my best to you, and good luck with your mission!

  5. I am an LPC who wants to move to California, so will I still be eligible for clinical therapist openings that only ask for MFT or LCSW? What are my options for employment if I do move to California?

  6. Hey Jen,

    I totally identify with your frustration! I would like to work with the VA as well, but cannot…hopefully the LPCC will change this!

    Thanks for writing!
    – Liz

  7. Hi Sheila,

    I very much hope that job openings for MFTs will also apply to LPCCs. I think some LCSW jobs will be open to LPCCs, but LCSWs seem to have more opportunity out here than any other license (besides psychologist). Part of the reason, I think, is that they have specialized case management training.

    I suppose we’ll have to wait and see exactly what the demand will be for LPCCs in California, but I imagine that this license will create substantial opportunities for those of us who were unlicensable up until this point.

    Hope this helps!
    – Liz

  8. OMG, so glad I found this website. I received my grad degree in Counseling Psych. from Immaculata University in P.A (I’m a Philly girl and know Drexel well) I have taken the LPC, the NCMHCE and ALL THE REQUIRED COURSES FOR LPC. NO one will even touch me without the license, I live in the Palm Springs area and can’t find a job to save my life. I cannot believe it has taken CA all this time to pass this. No one in this state seems to understand the LPC license only MSW or MFT. I am so sick and tired or trying to prove that I am on the same level as these folks in terms of education. Nice to find this site and hear others feel my frustration.

  9. Hello

    I am a councelor with the University of Phoenix and i actually have 3 coureses that are required by the State of Californina. the 3 courses are below.

    CNSL526 Introduction to Clinical Assessment
    CNSL562 Career and Vocational Counseling
    CMHC546 Psychopharmacology

    If you need them please let me know.

    Troy Soroko Enrollment Counselor
    1800-366-9699 ext 3878656

  10. Hi Troy,

    Thanks for letting me know about those courses. I saw them listed on the CCCL website and that if you emailed the specific enrollment counselor with “LPCC Grandparenting Applicants Special Pricing” in the subject line, U of Phoenix offers discount pricing.

    For all those interested in the provides of coursework endorsed by the CCCL, please check out http://www.caccl.org/providers-of-coursework

  11. From my understanding, California is swamped with therapists, particularly places like the SF Bay Area. Requirements for licensing have gradually become more difficult over the years, and it would seem that this is in part due to an effort to protect the livelihoods of currently licensed therapists.

    As someone who lives in California, and might again pursue a career as a counselor, this is a double-edged sword, and depends on which side of the licensing “edge” I am on.

    I am looking at an opposite scenario, i.e. moving to a less expensive locale for my retirement and having a transferable career to take with me. Except now, with the shenanigans I see insurance companies perpetrating regarding making reimbursement extremely difficult, I don’t know what to do.

    I would suspect there will be continued political maneuvering to protect the livelihoods of those already licensed in the state. It would be nice to have requirements standardized across the states, and not dumbed down in the process.

  12. Hi Dwight,

    Well…it seems that all the political maneuvering has been pretty much done since the LPCC is a reality, although there are several outstanding issues that the BBS hasn’t made a decision on and won’t until they absolutely must (meaning in Jan 2011, when they have to start accepting grandfathering LPCC applications). For example, they haven’t 100% decided on the exams that LPCs from other states (applying through reciprocity) will have to take to be certified in CA.

    It’s incredible how difficult they’re making it for already educated therapists. I feel like I’m running a marathon, where most people are hoping I fall and drop out.

    The good news for you, however, is that by the time you go back to school the dust will have settled and all the requirements will be known. This means that you’ll be put on the right track towards licensure from the very beginning…making it so much easier for you to actually obtain the LPCC.

    In terms of insurance companies, when I go to national conferences (in relation to art therapy) it seems that everyone talks about how difficult it is to deal with insurance and the public healthcare system (medicare for example). The way to get around this is twofold—one is to work for an agency, school, hospital or gov’t job, where you’re paid a salary. The other is to go into private practice and not accept insurance. Of course, this will limit your practice to wealthier individuals. Many clinicians in private practice try to balance their clients with people who pay out of pocket (a more or less guaranteed pay check), along with people who have insurance—public or otherwise.

    I can’t blame you, Dwight, for thinking about moving. The cost of living in CA is so high…as are the taxes…plus it seems there are less shenanigans when it comes to being a mental health counselor elsewhere. Certainly, when I compare what I need to do get an LPC in Pennsylvania versus what I need to do to get an LPCC in CA, it gets me thinking about going back to the east coast.

    Thanks for writing in!

  13. I’m back at thinking about this again. My company is going to centralize all it’s offices to Atlanta. I would either have to move there, or take severance and then unemployment. I’m from the South, don’t care to go back yet. Not sure if I ever want to go back.

    Will the LPCC license be tranferable to any state? Is that the point of the LPC license?

  14. Ironically Audrey, I am starting my masters in counseling psych at Immaculata soon!! If you ever look at this again, could you tell me a little more about your situation? I have aspirations of moving to California eventually, and would like to know if there is something I can do to ease the process!

  15. Hey Dwight,

    I think the LPCC is transferable to other states through reciprocity…but it’s not a 100% guarantee. You’d have to apply to the board of whatever state your looking at and see what they say. Although, knowing California—there’s so many courses and tests you need in order to qualify for the LPCC, that I can’t imagine any state asking any more from us.

    Good luck!
    – Liz

  16. Hi Scott,

    I went to school in Philadelphia as well. My advice to you, is to take a look at the CA LPCC requirements, and take whatever courses during your grad school career that best match what the Board of Behavioral Sciences requires…even if some of those courses go beyond what you’d need to get your MA from Immaculata.

    Hope that helps!
    – Liz

  17. Scott,

    Please email me at : audcarrick@hotmail.com we can talk . I currently live in the Palm Springs CA area and am ready to put in my application for the LPCC here in CA later on this year and then take the CA law/ethics exam yet to be developed. If any of you out there in cyberland live near Palm Springs and may want to work together to start a group LPCC practice. . .email me. I would love to connect with others. I feel CA will block us and that even after we get the LPCC it will remain very difficult. I think private might be my only job option.

  18. Scott,

    I also agree with Liz on her advice on courses and looking at the BBS website to make sure you get them all in. CA can be real tricky when it comes to supervision hours and I can see them making it difficult by not accepting hours from another state. . .while I have no idea if this is the case it wouldn’t surprise me. I have contacted the CCCL , BBS, and Governor Schwarzenagers office to voice my disappointment with the lack of assistance and promotion provided by the BBS. . .Audrey

  19. Hi, I’m an MFT in California. Some years ago when the Oral Exam was used by the BBS for the MFT license I formed a state-wide lobbying group online that pulled in interns and those licensed from the MFT and LCSW fields to fight that miserable and abusive practice. And indeed, we helped to get rid of the Orals. But unfortunately, the BBS/CAMFT axis has managed to come up with a test that is just as abusive — if not more so. So getting the LPC passed isn’t going to be your only problem, if the BBS decides to use the same test they are applying to the MFT field, and the gang runing the show for the LPC license simply jump on board.

    Note here that CAMFT is in large part at the bottom of throwing up this barrior of entry to the field under the guise of protecting the public. There is no metric evidence and never has been that beating people over the head with the sort of test now being applied protects the public… and more than the Orals did. The method for determining this would be to monitor the number of licenses being yanked in the State both with and without such a test. The same applied to the orals. There was no metric to demonstrate that the orals reduced the number of licenses being revoked. Actually, in the few states that dumped their orals, there was no difference at all in the number of licenses being yanked.

    CAMFT is supposed to help its constituents, and the road they have taken has been to throw up barrier of entry into the field, presumably in order to thin the field out and drive up income for those licensed. The BBS is a beurocracy. It’s an agency that creates and administers licensing in order to protect consumers. But in order to frame what they do, they rely on CAMFT to tell them what is or is not important. So the kinds of tests the BBS comes up with are very much framed by CAMFT… and in fact CAMFT was instrumental in the days of the Orals in killing one of the Senate Bills being sent to Congress to eliminate them.

    Those of you who support the LPC license need to make very sure CAMFT does not end up running the LPC show, or you are going to have lots of trouble on your hands… especially if you think the LPC will be a more reasonable alternative to the MFT. The LPC administrators need to get a seat at the BBS table and WORK FOR it’s constituents and its potential constituents — i.e., interns and those who would like to become licensed.


  20. Hi Michael,

    Thank you for your insight. For those of us who are not involved in the politics (but who are affected by it), it’s great to know a little of what goes on behind the scenes.

    It’s my understanding that the LPCC will require similar tests as other LPCs, the National Counseling Exam (NCE), the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) and a California ethics exam. To become an LPCC we need to pass all 3, which is more than other LPCs who usually only ask for either the NCE or the NCMHCE, but at least these tests are standardly given across the nation. There are also good study guides available for the NCE and NCMHCE exams online and in book format. The one exam which has not been developed yet is the CA ethics exam. We’ll have to judge it’s efficacy and fairness once they actually begin administering it…which may take forever, since I keep getting emails altering me that the BBS is totally unprepared to handle the influx of LPCC applications.

    Perhaps there were strong opinions against using the two regular national examinations, and this may be part of the reason it took so long for the LPCC to pass?

    – Liz

  21. There might be strong objections from CAMT to involve anyone from the “outside” because tests like the NCE are what you might call “reasonable.” The examination currently targeting MFT interns is completely out of line with the projected income one can expect from an MFT job.

    I am very sorry for a person who has spent tons of money and time clawing their way through graduate school, then 3000 hours of virtual slave labor only to be stopped dead by an outrageous test. If you flunk the test you have to wait 6 months to take it again!!! The stakes for passing are enormously high, considering the limits the BBS places on interns. Flunk it again and you have a year invested in waiting around… working for virtually nothing… and spending money on test prep courses. It is just an awful situation in California.


  22. Micheal, wow, you really confirmed alot of what I have already suspected regarding the CAMT. I also have heard directly from BBS staff (not easy to reach them) that they are unprepared to handle our applications. I passed both the NCE and the CCMHCE and will begin studying for the yet designed CA Law & Ethics exam using only the material from a course I took. I was told it would take a minimum of 4 months to process any applications and the CA law & Ethics exam might be ready in February. I am urging the folks at the http://www.caccl.org to really push to have the LPC’s fairly represented but I agree with you Michael, it’s a bureacracy and it is very very unfair. California has really embarassed me by all of this.

  23. I’m sorry Catherine, I dont. I’ve only begun to look at the NCE and various study guides. I did find some good study guides on Amazon though.

    Maybe other readers have suggestions?

    Good luck!

  24. Hello; I appriciate all that you are doing, and am interested in assisting you in any posssible way I can. I am a readjustment counselor for returning veterans and am very interested in advocating for the LPC. please do not hesitate in contcting me. I believe that art is a truely beautiful form of expression and therapy.

  25. Thanks Steven!

    I removed your email address from your comment, since I wasn’t sure if you wanted it to be posted for everyone to see :)

    Supposedly the BBS will be ready to accept LPCC applications in Feb 2011. Good luck to us all!

  26. hi liz,

    just wondering how things are going with you… i posted about a year ago, and am still keeping the hope alive that california will get with the program sooner than later–i understand we can apply this february (after a delay), and it could take four months to even review applications.
    i’ve been doing alot of continuing ed and also getting certified in emdr in hopes of working with post-combat veterans with ptsd.
    the other hurdle is that even though the V.A. by law must accept professional counselors, i see no job postings as such for clinical counselor positions….

    thanks for keeping this post going–it helps to know others are in the same, hopefully turning about, boat.
    p.s. there appears to be someone on the ACA site who is actively advocating for counselors in our interests;)
    thanks liz,

  27. Hi Jen!

    Thanks for checking in! I’ve been doing various continuing ed courses, some of which are outside of the art therapy field (mainly having to do with web design). I’m trying to figure out ways to use my education in new and diverse ways…especially since I’m somewhat doubtful that the BBS will accept my degree.

    In terms of the VA…I’m not seeing any counseling positions in CA posted anywhere…and I assume will be the case until the BBS actually issues the license.

    Good luck with your work, Jen. It sounds like you’re on the right track!
    – Liz

  28. I am the President-Elect of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. (CAMFT).
    We are a great organization for therapists and counselors. Dues are low and we have five lawyers on staff to field law and ethics questions.
    We do collaborate a lot with A.C.A. and the LPC’s. I will be at the ACA Annual Conference in New Orleans later this month. Feel free to contact me if you like. The CAMFT Annual Conference is in May. I hope to see you there! :) James

  29. How competitive is it to get into the Creative arts therapy program at Drexel? To my knowledge, it seems like the most intensive art therapy graduate program. Can you describe your experience in the program?

    Any type of information would be really helpful! Thanks.

  30. Hi Lauren,

    I think I’ll make this a separate blog post, so that it’s easily searched and read by others.

    Thank you for your question!
    – Liz

  31. Hi Liz,

    First of all, thank you so much for posting all of this helpful information and for advocating on behalf of the mental health (art therapy) field!! I am a Drexel Creative Arts Therapy Graduate (’10) as well! I emailed you a few months back, I think. I have been planning a move to CA – SF Bay area – in March 2012. Can you give an update on the LPC and licensure status in CA? Have the laws changed since you last wrote?

    I have my MA (from Drexel), and I have accumulated about 300 hours towards my LPC license here. I suppose all of this weighs in on my decision to move as I do not want to be set back so much. There is work in Philly. I may consider getting my LPC here, and then applying for reciprocity.

    Also, I am from the South, and may consider moving back there.

    Anyway, thanks for hearing my thoughts. I hope you are well and I appreciate any information you have on the subject.

    Take care,
    Rachael Morgan

  32. Hey Rachael,

    Yes, I do have an update :) Basically the BBS (board of behavioral sciences) is accepting applications for the LPCC now. The grandfathering period ends on Dec 31, 2011…so if you want to apply under the grandfathering period you should do it ASAP! At this point you’d be applying to be an “intern”, meaning that you’re working towards your hours to be licensed, and I’m unsure whether this is covered by the grandfathering period. You’d need to research this further on the BBS website.

    If the BBS doesn’t accept your application as an intern, I think it’s wise to stay in Philly until you get your LPC and then apply for reciprocity in CA. Take it from me—if you’re not registered with the BBS the jobs are few and far between. It is possible to get them, but you’ll be very limited in your career.

    I hope this helps and good luck! Let us know how it goes and what you decide.
    – Liz

  33. I am in the application process for grandfathering LPCC, about to take the law & ethics exam tomorrow. I am just wondering, is anyone out there licensed yet as a CA LPCC? Other than joining CALPCC- what other networking avenues are available? I am new to CA, and have only flung LMFTs and LCSWs….

  34. Hi Annie,

    I hope you did awesome on your exam!!

    I heard from a friend that there are people who are getting the LPCC license already, but I think it’s very slow going. I’m really not sure of other networking opportunities, but I’m sure if there’s something out there it’s probably mentioned on a LinkedIn forum. Maybe you should check there?

    Thanks for stopping by!

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