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Acquiring the credential of a licensed professional counselor-supervisor, or LPC-S, requires several years of licensed counseling experience in the state of North Carolina as well as a certain number of hours of specialized coursework in supervision. As of 2011, North Carolina is the only U.S. state that offers counselors an opportunity to become an LPC-S as a separate counseling license. A person who is awarded the LPC-S credential in North Carolina is then eligible to supervise new professionals who are accruing clinical hours toward initial licensure as a licensed professional counselor (LPC).
In order to become an LPC-S in North Carolina, the applicant must already hold a current LPC license with no restrictions from the North Carolina Board of Licensed Professional Counselors. He or she must also have acquired licensed clinical experience totaling 2,500 contact hours with clients, which is equivalent to five full-time years of experience as an LPC. Additionally, the applicant who wants to become an LPC-S must have completed a specified number of documented hours of specialized supervisory education. This could be a total of 45 continuing education hours in approved supervision coursework or three graduate semester credits in supervision from an accredited institution. Finally, along with references and an application fee, the individual who wishes to become an LPC-S has to provide a disclosure statement to be used with all clients that details the individual's training and credentials.
Any person who wants to become an LPC-S will have already received his or her initial licensure as an LPC. In general, an LPC license requires a master's degree in counseling, passing a licensing exam, and gaining a number of supervised hours of clinical experience. An LPC is a mental health professional who treats behavioral, emotional, and mental problems in families, groups, and individuals.
Although North Carolina is the only state offering a LCP-S credential that requires a separate license, some other U.S. states have an equivalent procedure. In Texas, a licensed counselor can be registered as an approved supervisor after two years of clinical experience and 40 hours of supervisory coursework. For Georgia, an individual can be designated as a certified professional counselor supervisor (CPCS). Ohio and Arkansas also offer a type of supervisor specialization license. West Virginia and Alaska require a certification credential for supervisors.
All 50 U.S. states have developed a procedure for licensing counselors, but the terminology does vary. Rather than an LPC license, many states offer some variation on the licensed mental health counselor (LMHC) credential. The difference in professional titles occurs because counseling is regulated on the state level. In a few states, LPCs and LMHCs coexist as part of a tiered credential system.
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