More Delays For the LPCC

From the latest newsletter from the CALPCC:

The LPCC license has become law, so the license is not in doubt, but we are still waiting for the Rules and Regulations to be approved by several state agencies before the BBS can distribute applications. Should the delay continue, the BBS is prepared to sponsor legislation to extend the grandparenting period. Keep in mind that once applicants submit their applications, it may take several months for the BBS to evaluate them. Then the BBS will send a letter outlining any deficiencies and applicants will have 12 months from the date of that letter to submit any additional documentation and to complete deficiencies, including coursework, years of post-degree experience, supervised experience and examinations.

The BBS was supposed to be able to begin taking applications for the LPCC 3 months ago, in January. With all the fiscal issues that California is facing, I anticipate that delays in accepting applications will continue, and that new legislation will have to be passed to extend the grandfathering period. I sincerely hope that there will be no problems extending the grandfathering period… Stay tuned.

Considering Art Therapy in California

Here’s a question that was emailed to me by Nicole A. and was posted with her permission;

I have been considering Art Therapy as a career path. I love both art and psychology and thought that it would be a great way to combine my passions. I work full-time, have two kids and a mortgage, so I’m only able to take a few classes at a time. Once I finish my AA, and both of my kids are in school, I will be able to transfer to SJSU and be a full-time student. I have read that to be a registered art therapist, you must have your master’s. I just wanted to know if I will be able to find work in the feild after I earn my BA, while working on my master’s. I want to set my goals high, but because of my responsibilities I want to be realistic. I’m also curious what kind of salary an art theraptist with a private practice in California might earn on average?

Hey Nicole,

You definitely need a masters degree to be an art therapist. In California, most art therapy masters programs offer the option of being on a license track for an MFT (Marriage and Family Therapist). Having a state license is absolutely essential for both your job and earning prospects, so getting a dual MFT and art therapy degree is a very good option.

A new law passed in ’09 making LPCC (Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor) an option for CA licensure too. The LPCC isn’t available until next year, so I doubt any schools will be advertising this at the moment, but by the time you finnish your BA, I’m sure an LPCC track will be available as well.

Also, you don’t nessesarily need a masters in art therapy to ultimately become an art therapist. For example, you can have a masters degree in Nursing or Social Work and then go for a bit more schooling, pursuing an Art Therapy certificate. For example, NDNU has a Post Masters Advanced Standing option, where you take an extra 30 credits after you complete a masters degree in a related field. Nursing or social work are good options; A nurse’s earning potentials in California is quite high—especially if you have an RN (registered nurse) license and work as a supervisor or in administration. Social Workers have a lot of respect in the California mental health community and job opportunity, although many positions are looking for either an MFT or LCSW (Licensed Social Worker).

I dont work in private practice so I couldn’t tell you accurately about salary expectations. What I do know is that if you’re interested in serving underprivileged populations, meaning that you’ll be accepting medicare or medical as payment, you will earn very very little money. I attended a seminar once where the art therapist in private practice joked that she envies the Starbucks worker, because they probably make more money than she does—and with less stress. That being said, if you decide not to accept insurance, and only out of pocket pay, I think your earning potential can be rather high…but one must consider how long it takes to develop the clientele. For this reason, many people work part time in a “regular” job while developing their private practice.

In California, as an unlicensed art therapist (for example, while you’re completing your post masters training hours to become licensed, which takes about 2 years) you can expect to make about $30-40,000. As an art therapist with an MFT license, you can expect around $45,000-65,000 depending on where you work…maybe more. Working for the government (the VA or for the county) is much more lucrative than a non-profit. RNs can make between 65-80k easy. I’m not sure if having an art therapy credential would raise your earning potential as an RN, but it would certainly open some interesting doors!

Good luck with your pursuits and much respect for going back to school with 2 kids. My mom got her BA in nursing and then her MA in education while I was growing up. It was tough for her, but it was certainly worth it!

– Liz

It’s official!

A portion of today’s email from NorCATA’s secretgarden:


After seven years and three bills, CCCL is proud to announce that its third bill has been approved by California’s Legislature and signed into law by its Governor. This would not have been possible without the dedicated counselors and graduate students throughout the state, and the state and national organizations that support professional counseling.


January 1, 2010: The bill becomes law and the Board of Behavioral Sciences then has the responsibility for developing the rules and regulations to implement the bill and it will gear up to accept LPCC applications.

January 1, 2011: Applications for grandparenting and reciprocity will be available through the Board of Behavioral Sciences. These requirements are posted now on CCCL’s website,, under Licensure Requirements.

January 1, 2012: Applications for regular licensure will be available for those not eligible for grandparenting or reciprocity. These requirements are posted now on CCCL’s website,, under Licensure Requirements.

CCCL will continually update its website, as information becomes available on providers of required coursework, and administration of required examinations.

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.

Oh…the disappointment…

A few days ago I received an email from NorCATA informing me (and everyone on their mailing list) that the bill for the LPC in California failed to pass the Senate by one vote. This is so disappointing and I’m trying not to let it get me down.

I would like to thank everyone who is working hard on this issue, and I very much hope that next year the bill will pass. In the next few months, as they gear towards another attempt, there will be emails sent out asking for psyc professionals in California to write to their Congressman/woman to express their support for the bill. If you are interested in getting involved or getting on the mailing list for updates, I’m sure if you contacted NorCATA or the California Coalition for Counselor Licensure that could be arranged.

Cross Your Fingers

I remember when I was in grad school, we had a discussion regarding what options art therapists had in different states. It was then that I learned that art therapists could not become licensed in the state of California unless they qualified to sit for the exams required to obtain an MFT (Marriage and Family Therapy license) or LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker).

Life brought me to Northern California, and when it did, it became more and more obvious that my career would be stunted because I am ineligible for a state recognized license. When I was searching for a job there were lots I was qualified for, except that I wasn’t an MFT or LCSW. I would have to go back to school for another Master’s degree…or perhaps this even would be the impetus for me to continue my studies even further and get a Psy D (Doctor of Psychology).

But wait. The creation of an LPC license (Licensed Professional Counsellor), which is available in all other 49 states except California, and what most art therapists are licensed as by each state (in addition to the national license of ATR-BC, registered art therapist-board certified), is something that art therapists in California have been working towards for the past several years (if not decades). And yes, these things can take forever…and it seems like it has, but we’re now closer than ever to having a bill pass in the Senate that would give rise to the LPC license in California. The bill may even pass within the next few weeks (if the Senate doesn’t close early for the year), and if this happens, the Governor could sign the bill by the end of September, and the bill would come into effect as early as Jan 1, 2009.

This is incredibly exciting for me, since, as I said before, without a state license I have much less opportunity.