15 Career Options for Licensed Professional Counselors
Licensed professional counselors (LPCs) are professionals who administer psychotherapy services to a number of populations. Depending on the state of licensure, this designation may also be known as licensed mental health counselors (LMHCs). LPCs assist clients with a wide range of problems from marriage discord, substance abuse, and mood disorders. The key function of an LPC is to be attentive to clients’ problems and help them to develop adaptive strategies for coping.
While psychologist may see clients with intense emotional disorders and severe mental illnesses, licensed professional counselors may help clients with a variety of social and/or lifestyle issues. LPCs hold a master’s degree in counseling, psychology, or another relevant specialty area. After obtaining a degree, these professionals-in-training must accrue several thousand hours of post-degree experience under a licensed supervisor. In addition, to passing the National Counselor Exam or an equivalent exam, LPCs must adhere to a strict code of ethics and stay abreast of leading efficacious treatment in their field.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected career outlook for mental health counselors is expected to expand by approximately 29% from 2012 to 2022. If you are interested in obtaining your licensure to become an LPC, there are numerous settings in which you can thrive in this career. Check out these 20 career options for LPCs below.
#1 Private Practice
After fully completing the requirements for licensure, individuals in this career field have the option of venturing out into private practice. This is a great choice for an individual who enjoys being your own boss. However, great responsibility comes with running a counseling private practice. Private practice LPCs must be adept in all aspects of business such as bookkeeping, networking, marketing and working with insurance companies. Even if you start your business with a great deal of referrals, prepare for your client-base to wax and wane regularly. It’s simply the nature of going out solo.
#2 Department of Veteran Affairs
Working with veterans who have served this country’s military can be a terrific way to give back to those who have sacrificed so much for the nation’s safety. Since 2006, the United States Department of Veteran Affairs has recognized licensed professional counselors and marriage and family therapists as mental health providers within their system. The only requirements for gaining a fulfilling job with the VA are being a U.S. citizen, holding a master’s degree in mental health counseling or a related field from a program that is CACREP accredited, and holding a licensure, working towards becoming licensed.
Do you know the greatest benefit of working with the VA? LPCs can become employed by the VA in any of the United States, which is wonderful if you have to relocate to a different state. If you hold a license in one state, you are eligible to work within the VA system of every state.
#3 Residential Treatment Facilities
Employment at a residential treatment facility enables you to work with the addiction and substance abuse population. These programs are ideal for clients who have relapsed or been unable to complete outpatient substance abuse treatment programs. These rehabilitative facilities generally retain clients for at least a month and offer medically-supervised detoxification, individual, group, and/or family therapy, and a variety of other services for clients in recovery.
Many counseling programs that help credential LPCs also assist students who want to become certified school counselors (CSCs). There is much overlap in what licensed professional counselors and school counselors do, although school counselors are limited in their scope of practice as compared to LPCs. These individuals work in school settings offering individual counseling and/or group counseling to help with a number of student concerns, including problems coping with life transitions, behavioral problems, mental illness, and/or school performance-related difficulties. Luckily, certification is rarely, if ever, required for LPCs looking to work in this setting.
#5 Weight Loss Camps
Weight loss camps such as Wellspring Camps and Academies hire LPCs to oversee their team of behavioral coaches. These professionals provide psychotherapy to children, adolescents, and adults. Interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapy are used to assist campers with developing healthy and positive life skills to overcome overeating or poor nutrition by teaching goal-setting, conflict resolution, and stress management techniques.
#6 Community-Based Agencies
Community mental health services are provided to children, adolescents, and adults in an outpatient setting. These clinics deliver life skills training, rehabilitation, therapy, and crisis intervention to the local population. In addition to offering services in the clinic, LPCs may also work in the community by visiting the homes, schools, and participating in court proceedings with their clients.
#7 State Agencies
State employment as a licensed professional counselor can be very versatile. In some cases, a counselor may be assigned to a specific department or region. However, depending on the budget and demand for services, other counselors may work across departments or regions providing services as needed. Typical state agencies that employ LPCs include The Department of Children and Family Services, the Office of Disability Affairs, and the Office of Elderly Affairs. Here, LPCs may handle case management, advocacy, life skills training and deliver some counseling services to clients.
#8 Assertive Community Treatment
LPCs may also serve in some capacity on a region’s ACT team. Assertive Community Treatment teams focus on providing around-the-clock treatment services to people with serious mental illness like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. In this capacity, an LPC might work alongside psychiatrists, social workers, and various professionals in other disciplines to follow and serve individuals who have been released from an inpatient hospital setting back into the community.
#9 Non-profit Organizations
If you have a passion for assisting special populations, working in the non-profit sector may be a great choice for your career. Professionals at non-profit agencies may offer therapy, case management, employment assistance, clinical assessments and life skills training to individuals like veterans, foster children, or women recovering from abuse.
Licensed professional counselors who seek employment in the prison system typically conduct intake assessments on new inmates, develop treatment plans, work together with an interdisciplinary team to ensure that inmates receive proper care, and offer individual and group therapy services. The goal of counseling in this setting usually involves helping inmates develop coping strategies and life skills necessary for re-entry into their communities.
These settings can include medical, psychiatric, or behavioral health hospitals that treat a range of patients. LPCs may work with acute mentally ill, individuals struggling with eating disorders, or cancer patients preparing an end-of-life plan. Depending on the specialty area, counselors may provide strength-based assessments, risk assessment, diagnostic assessment, short-term or long-term individual, group, and/or family therapy services, and help with placement after discharge.
#12 Group Homes
Group homes can focus on a wide range of issues such as victims of sexual abuse, women and children escaping a domestic violence, homelessness, substance abuse, or disability services. In these settings, LPCs carry out a number of jobs that focus on empowering the individual and helping them build a skill set and courage to reintegrate back into the community. Professionals may have a set number of clients to administer individual psychotherapy, perform community outreach to connect residents with much-needed resources, help them gain employment or enroll in school or vocational training, lead groups that present education about the difficulties the specific group faces, and help them overcome disabilities or behavioral issues.
#13 Religious Centers/Churches
If you have an interest in working with religious groups, many require LPCs in various capacities. Depending on the region or specialty serve, this position can be part-time or you can even volunteer. If you follow a particular religious orientation, offering your services can be an amazing way to give back to your community. Services needed by religious organizations include premarital counseling, marriage counseling, grief counseling, disaster relief assistance, therapy services to members of the congregation.
#14 Crisis Intervention
For professional who work well under pressure and think on their feet, work in crisis intervention settings can be highly rewarding. In this capacity, the clinician travels to a location upon an emergency in order to perform psychological evaluations, diagnostic assessments, lethality/suicidality assessments, and offer counseling services to victims and/or survivors. Typically employed by police departments, emergency department, or disaster relief organizations, crisis intervention specialists respond to emergency situations that may occur during the day or night. Professionals refer patients for placement in hospitals, group homes, or other treatment facilities and help to develop a treatment plan or aftercare plan.
Relatively new as a service offered by mental health professionals, telehealth is proving to be useful and effective in treating a variety of issues. Thanks to the growth of technology and wider access to the web, licensed professional counselors are now given the opportunity to deliver much-needed services to patients off-site via chat, telephone, or video chat. Telemedicine is largely beneficial for clients with disabilities or who live in rural areas to receive quality counseling services from a distance. Telemedicine allows for saving time and money on traveling, and overcome the stigma many people associate with seeing a mental health professional. The availability and guidelines for these services vary from state to state, so, remember to check with the licensing body in your state before offering these services to clients.