The Louisiana State Board of Licensed Professional Counselors (LA LPCBE) issues the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) credential. You need an LPC license if you want to engage in mental health counseling and provide psychotherapy services independently to the public.
Before you can become fully licensed as an LPC you’ll need to gain two years of supervised counseling work experience as a Provisional Licensed Professional Counselor (PLPC). The PLPC license allows you to engage in the LPC’s scope of practice under authorized supervision.
As an LPC, with years of experience and qualifying training or education you can opt to add a Supervisor designation to your title and become an LPC-S. This allows you to supervise PLPCs. You can also choose to add a teletherapy designation to your license.
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Steps Towards Counseling Licensure in Louisiana
Becoming a licensed LPC means going through the following process:
- Earn a qualifying graduate degree in Counseling that includes a practicum and internship
- Take one of the following exams from the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC); you’ll need to pass either one of these to become an LPC: * National Counselor Examination (NCE) OR *National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE)
- Become a PLPC and gain supervised counseling experience over at least two years
- Apply for an LPC license
The starting point for applying for any type of license through the LA LPCBE is to create an online account. You can upload supporting material for your application at any licensure level through your online LA LPCBE account. When you need to have documents supporting your application emailed to the LA LPCBE by third parties, have them sent to this email address: email@example.com.
When you apply for licensure you’ll need to complete a state and federal background check. You can do this in person at the Louisiana State Police Headquarters or by mail. These are the documents you’ll need:
- Rapsheet disclosure
- Background check authorization
- Automated processing form for in-person clients
Provisional Licensed Professional Counselor (PLPC)
- Fulfill the education requirement with graduate degree in Counseling. Have your school email official transcripts and confirmation of completion of a practicum and internship to the LA LPCBE.
- Locate an LA LPCBE-approved supervisor. The purpose of becoming an PLPC is so you can fulfill the supervised counseling work experience requirement to become an LPC. You can search through an online directory of approved supervisors here. Once you’ve located a supervisor they will need to fill out and sign their portion of your Statement of Declaration of Practices and Procedures. Include this with your application for PLPC licensure. You can find a model of this statement here.
- Register with the NBCC for either its NCE or NCMHCE exam. You must take one of these exams to qualify for PLPC licensure. However you are not required to pass your exam; only to take it. Have your exam scores sent by the NBCC to the LA LPCBE.
- Apply for PLPC licensure through your online account with the LA LPCBE. There is a $100 application fee. Once the LA LPCBE approves your application it will issue your PLPC license.
Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC)
- Fulfill the supervised experience requirement. This is done as a PLPC. You must complete 3,000 hours of post-graduate supervised counseling experience over a span of at least two years and not more than six. This must include 1,900 hours of direct client contact, 1,000 hours of indirect client contact, and 100 hours of face-to-face supervision. Once you’ve fulfilled this requirement you’ll fill out your portion of a Documentation of Experience Form and your supervisor will submit this to the LA LPCBE. For every 30 semester credits of additional coursework in counseling you earn beyond your 60-credit graduate degree, you can earn 500 hours of indirect client contact credit.
- If you have not already passed the NCE or NCMHCE exam from the NBCC, you must register with the NBCC and pass one of these exams before you apply for an LPC license. Have the NBCC send your scores to the LA LPCBE. Step Three – Apply for LPC licensure through your online account with the LA LPCBE. The application fee is $200. Include a Statement of Declaration of Practices and Procedures with your application; you can use this as a model. Once the LA LPCBE approves your application it will issue your LPC license.
- Optional – Add a teletherapy specialization to your LPC license. This allows you to provide counseling services using interactive technology-assisted media through synchronous audio and video transmission. You can apply for this through your online LA LPCBE account. To add this designation to your license you must have been practicing for at least one year and complete one of the following:
A three-credit or 45-hour qualifying graduate-level academic course in telemental health counseling.
A professional teletherapy training course that’s at least nine hours. This must cover the following topics as they relate to teletherapy: appropriateness, theory and practice, theory integration, modes of delivery, risk management, managing emergencies, and legal and ethical issues.
Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor (LPC-S)
As an LPC you can opt to become an LA LPCBE-designated supervisor, an LPC-S, if you’ve held your LPC license and actively engaged in mental health counseling for at least three years. You can apply through your online account with the LA LPCBE once you’ve fulfilled one of the following requirements:
- Complete a graduate-level academic course in counseling supervision that includes three semester credits or 45 hours of supervisor training.
- Complete an LA LPCBE-approved professional training program in supervision that includes at least 25 hours of face-to-face interaction with the instructor.
When you apply you’ll need to include a Statement of Declaration of Practices and Procedures with your application; you can use this as a model. You also need a signed letter from a colleague who can verify you’ve been licensed as an LPC for at least three years. The application fee is $100.
Renewing Your License
The PLPC, LPC, and LPC-S licenses expire every two years. You can renew your license through your online account with the LA LPCBE. To be eligible for renewal you must attest to fulfilling the continuing education requirement for your license during each renewal period:
- PLPCs – 20 hours of continuing education; renewal fee $85; expires October 31st
- LPCs – 40 hours of continuing education; renewal fee $170; expires June 30th
- LPC-Ss – 40 hours of continuing education, including three hours in supervision; renewal fee $220; expires June 30th
If you have a teletherapy specialization added to your license you must complete three hours of continuing education in teletheraphy.
For PLPCs – When you’re renewing your license you must also take an NBCC exam and have the results mailed or emailed from the NBCC to the LA LPCBE. While you must pass an NBCC exam to become an LPC, for the purposes of renewal you’re not required to pass an NBCC exam; only to take one.
How Long Does it Take to Become a Counselor in Louisiana?
You can expect to invest eight years into becoming licensed as an LPC. This includes six years of education –four years to earn a bachelor’s degree and two years to earn a master’s degree in Counseling– that you need to become a PLPC, and two additional years of supervised counseling work experience that you need to become an LPC. You can add a teletherapy specialization to your license after one additional year, and a supervisor designation after two years beyond that.
If you’re licensed as a PLPC, LPC, or LPC-S in another state and your out-of-state requirements for licensure were equivalent to Louisiana’s then you can apply for Louisiana licensure via endorsement. To apply you’ll create an online account with the LA LPCBE. Arrange to have all of the following emailed to the LA LPCBE at firstname.lastname@example.org:
- Your official transcripts from your graduate school
- Your official exam scores from the NBCC or other organization
- Official verification of your out-of-state license from your state’s Board of Counseling
Practicums and Internships
The degree program you use to fulfill the education requirement for licensure must include a practicum and internship. Both of these must include one hour of individual supervision per week, and 1.5 hours of group supervision per week.
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The practicum needs to be at least 100 hours and include 40 hours of direct counseling or psychotherapy with groups or individuals.
The internship must be at least 600 hours, including 240 hours of direct counseling or psychotherapy with groups or individuals.
You can qualify for licensure as an LPC in Louisiana by passing either one of the following exams that are sponsored by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC):
- National Counselor Examination (NCE)
- National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE)
Both exams are taken on a computer, and you can register for either by creating an online ProCounselor portal account with the company that’s partnered with the NBCC to administer the exams, the Center for Credentialing and Education (CCE).
The NCE exam is 200 multiple-choice questions covering material that you learned in your graduate education program in Counseling. The NCMHCE provides you with 10 clinical simulations and asks you questions about these. You have at least three hours to complete either exam, and you can find out more through the NCE and NCMHCE handbooks.
Required Education and Degrees
To fulfill the education requirement for licensure as a PLPC and subsequently an LPC you must earn a graduate degree in Counseling. This needs to be at least 60 semester credits and from a program that’s accredited by one of the following:
- A regional body recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)
- Council on the Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP)
Right now in Louisiana there are 15 schools offering 30 graduate degree programs that are CACREP-accredited. These include:
- Two PhD programs
- 10 Master of Arts (MA) programs
- Six Master of Education (M.Ed.) programs
- 11 Master of Science (MS) programs, two of which are offered online
Your degree program must include courses that are at least three semester credits in each of the following content areas:
- Counseling or psychotherapy theories of personality
- Human growth and development
- Abnormal behavior
- Techniques of psychotherapy or counseling
- Group dynamics, processes, and psychotherapy or counseling
- Career and lifestyle development
- Appraisal of individuals
- Professional orientation and ethics
Your degree program must also include a qualifying practicum and internship.
Supervisor Status – A qualifying course in supervision that’s taken as part of your degree program can fulfill the academic requirement for becoming an LPC Supervisor (LPC-S).
Teletherapy Specialization – You can fulfill the teletherapy academic requirement with a course in telemental health counseling that’s at least three semester credits and part of your degree program.
The US Department of Labor reported the following average annual salaries for several types of counseling careers, specifically in Louisiana:
- Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors – $55,500
- Marriage and Family Therapists – $45,260
- Rehabilitation Counselors – $48,460
- Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselor – $40,410
- Counselors, all others – $38,300
- Occupational Therapists – $87,410
Types of Counseling Careers
The US Department of Labor reports a total of 14,360 professionals employed statewide in the careers listed above. Of those:
- 43% are Educational, Guidance, and Career Counselors
- 27% are Substance Abuse, Behavioral Disorder, and Mental Health Counselors
- 14% are Counselors, all others
- 12% are Occupational Therapists
- 3% are Rehabilitation Counselors
- 1% are Marriage and Family Therapists
Louisiana Counseling Association (LCA) – Professional development, opportunities for continuing education, networking, and access to the latest legislative developments are just a few of the benefits members of the LCA enjoy. In addition to being a hub of information for professionals in this field, the LCA also provides helpful resources for students and aspiring counselors.
Louisiana School Counselor Association (LSCA) – Serving as the primary advocacy organization for school counselors from throughout the state –including public, private, post-secondary, and K-12– the LSCA also maintains close collaborative ties with the State Department of Education. Through professional advocacy it strives to improve the standards of school counseling and ultimately help students.
Louisiana Association of Addiction and Offender Counselors (LAAOC) – This organization is dedicated to ensuring the highest levels of professionalism among counselors who specialize in populations who are in the criminal justice system and/or those who are dealing with addiction issues. Members enjoy reduced admission for the annual conference, a job database, and more.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Louisiana – Hosting educational seminars, support groups, a health library, legal resources, and housing resources are just some of the services this organization provides. Plugged into its national parent organization, NAMI Louisiana also offers the potential for extensive networking opportunities.
Louisiana Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) – This is perhaps the most familiar state-level department for counselors in Louisiana. It provides the resources that make up the brunt of the public response to issues like substance abuse, addictive disorders, mental health, and behavioral health. The OBH is a proud component of Louisiana’s Department of Health.
UNITY of Greater New Orleans – Since its founding in 1992 this non-profit organization has been a community leader in addressing important mental health issues. It’s a collaboration of 63 organizations that provide services to the region’s homeless populations, and has been nationally awarded for its dedication.
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Community Care Hospital – This New Orleans-based locally-owned psychiatric hospital is proud of its provider team that’s comprised of LPCs, mental health technicians, social service workers, psychiatrists, interns, and nurses among others. It offers in-patient treatment services focusing on adult and geriatric clients.
University Medical Center New Orleans – With a multidisciplinary team, a 60-bed in-patient unit, and a 26-bed behavioral health emergency room, this facility’s Behavioral Health Department is one of the leading providers of services for area residents suffering from immediate mental health crises. It’s a component of a healthcare provider that can boast a legacy that spans nearly 300 years.
Capital Area Human Services – With locations spanning seven parishes, this organization offers services relating to addiction recovery, developmental disabilities, and mental health. Counselors emphasize person-centric recovery and client empowerment. Population focuses include children, adolescents, and adults.