Mental health and rehabilitation counseling is a rewarding and in-demand career field. With a projected growth of 25% by the year 2029, aspiring counselors can be assured of job security as well as employment opportunities after graduation. However, in order to embark on this career path, there are several requirements you must fulfill first. In the state of Connecticut, in order to provide mental health and rehabilitation services, you must become a licensed counselor.
What is an LPC?
A licensed professional counselor, or LPC, works one-on-one with clients or administers group therapy. Unlike licensed clinical social workers (LCSW), they very rarely, if ever, take on the job of client advocacy. Rather, LPCs provide mental health counseling and psychotherapy for issues including mental disorders, emotional disorders, behavioral problems, and addiction disorders. In some states, an LPC is referred to as an LCPC or LPCC (licensed clinical professional counselor or licensed professional clinical counselor). However, in the state of Connecticut, these types of mental health counselors bear the LPC moniker.
Steps to Becoming an LPC
1. Earn Your Degree
According to the state of Connecticut, the first step in becoming a counselor in CT is to earn a graduate degree. When choosing a graduate program, it’s important to research the special accreditation and education requirements that your state requires for Counseling degrees. In Connecticut, for example, prospective counselors are required to complete a master’s degree with specific areas of coursework, such as Human Growth and Development, Research and Evaluation, and Appraisals for Individuals and Groups. Additionally, graduate programs must be accredited by The Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP).
There are a couple degree options for students interested in becoming a counselor, including a master’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Counseling. Those who have a passion for mental health and helping others – as well as those who are interested in working closely with clients, offering direct counseling services as an LPC – should consider a Master’s in Counseling. You can learn more about the potential career outcomes of an MS in Counseling here.
With a concentration in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, a master’s degree in Counseling is designed to prepare students to work as mental health counselors as well as addiction counselors. Courses in this program include:
- Human Growth and Development
- Social and Cultural Foundations
- Research Methods
- Appraisal Processes for Counselors
- Supporting Self-Regulation
- Addiction and Treatment
2. Work on Your Soft Skills
In addition to learning technical counseling skills, you will need to develop your soft skills in order to become an effective counselor. These skills include empathy, active listening, patience, and communication. These skills will help you better connect with your clients and patients in the future, allowing them to trust and open up to you.
3. Gain Direct Experience
In addition to a master’s degree, students are required to complete 3,000 hours of post-graduate supervised experience in professional counseling. This should also include 100 hours of supervision by a practicing professional such as a licensed psychologist, licensed therapist, or licensed professional counselor. Though the state of Connecticut doesn’t require counselors to complete an internship during their course of study, programs that are accredited by the CACREP do offer internships that provide students with important insights and perspectives into the counseling profession.
4. Complete the Licensing Exams
After graduating and completing your supervised hours, you will need to complete your licensing exams. Exams are administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. Future counselors can complete the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination. All states, including Connecticut, require mental health counselors to be licensed in the field.
5. Submit Documentation
Once you’ve passed your qualifying exams, you will need to submit your documentation to the state in order to begin practicing as an LPC. This documentation includes the following:
- An official transcript from every educational institution attended, including all graduate coursework completed. A course of study form will need to be submitted along with these documents.
- A form verifying that you’ve completed your 3000 hours of postgraduate supervised experience and 100 hours of supervised experience with a licensed professional.
- A score report for the NCE or NCMHCE exam.
- A completed application.
You will submit these documents directly to the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Once your application has been approved, you will receive an email notification with your license number and its effective date. After this, you’ll be ready to begin practicing as a counselor in Connecticut.
Upon completion of these professional requirements, you’ll be able to work as a licensed professional counselor in the state of Connecticut. This career is dynamic, challenging, and full of opportunities. As a professional counselor, you will empower your clients to develop the skills they need to overcome addiction, cope with emotional disorders, and live a happy and full life.
Do you want to become a licensed counselor in Connecticut? Learn more about our Master’s degree in Counseling!