A licensed professional counselor (LPC) is a mental health professional who provides professional therapeutic services to individuals and groups that involve the application of mental health, psychotherapeutic, and human development principles to facilitate adjustment and development throughout life. Services may include individual counseling, group counseling, marriage counseling, family counseling, chemical dependency counseling, rehabilitation counseling, education counseling, career development counseling, sexual issues counseling, psychotherapy, play therapy, diagnostic assessment, hypnotherapy, expressive therapies, biofeedback, and related services.
A licensed professional counselor holds at least a master’s degree in counseling or a counseling-related field, and also must has complete 3,000 hours of supervised experience in the field of professional counseling.
Who are Licensed Professional Counselors?
Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs) are regulated by the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors, a state board whose members are appointed by the Texas Governor to carry out the general oversight of professional counselors in Texas. LPCs provide counseling services in accordance with state law and the board’s rules. This includes following the code of ethics that the board has established for the counseling profession.
Your counseling is for you. Everything about the process should focus on enhancing your personal growth and your ability to cope with life’s problems. You should expect to be treated with dignity in a professional manner. When you invest yourself in the counseling process, you can experience the satisfaction of working successfully at some of the most important issues in your life.
The guidelines established by the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors (the board) are aimed at promoting a positive counseling experience.
Valid License- You may visit the board’s web page to view a roster of counselors to determine if a counselor is currently licensed. The web page also contains information about disciplinary actions taken against counselors. If a person’s name does not appear on the roster, you should call the board office. Licenses must be renewed every two years, and every month a certain number of licenses expire, it is possible that your counselor’s name may not appear on a roster that is posted while your counselor is in the process of license renewal.
Your LPC has been trained to provide counseling services. This means assisting you through a therapeutic relationship, using a combination of mental health and human development principles and techniques, including the use of psychotherapy, to achieve your mental, emotional, physical, social, educational, spiritual, or career-related development and adjustment.
An LPC may prevent, assess, evaluate, and treat mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders and distresses that interfere with mental health. An LPC may also implement and evaluate treatment plans using interventions that include counseling, assessment, consulting, and referral.
You may have occasion to ask questions that require legal, medical, or other specialized knowledge. If so, you should seek advice from your attorney or primary care physician or ask your counselor for a referral to a specialist in your area of concern.
Practicing within the Scope of the Counseling Profession Information at Initial Session At or before your first counseling session, you and your counselor should discuss general information relating to your counseling relationship, such as: fees for counseling and scheduling, cancellation, and payment policies, goals that will guide the counseling process and methods or techniques that will be used during counseling, any restrictions under which your LPC may be practicing (for example, whether or not the LPC is under the supervision of another mental health professional) as well as confidentiality aspects of counseling and the circumstances under which something you say would not remain confidential, other persons that may be included in the counseling process (for example, a team approach in the counseling office or the involvement of a local minister)
Understanding Confidentiality-Confidentiality Everything you discuss with your counselor remains confidential, with only a few exceptions. You must give signed permission before your LPC can share information with anyone about any aspect of your counseling. If you do give permission, you will have an opportunity to specify who should receive information from your file, what information they are allowed to receive, the purpose for which they may use the information, and the period of time during which you are granting the permission. Be sure to read carefully any “Release of Information” or “Consent” form that you may be asked to sign. Be sure to ask any questions that you may have. The common situations requiring a release of information include certain inquiries from insurance companies, a new counselor wanting to use records from a previous counselor to provide continuing care, and collaboration with another agency or professional in your treatment. Sometimes, certain situations override your confidentiality. For example, if you are involved in a criminal case, the judge can order your file to be turned over to the court. If you make statements that a child or an elderly or disabled person has been abused or neglected, your counselor is required by law to report that information to the appropriate authorities. If you make statements that indicate you intend to harm yourself or others, your LPC may report that information to medical or law enforcement personnel. There are other similar situations that your counselor should discuss with you before or during the initial session. Apart from these rare circumstances, however, you can be assured that the only people who will have access to your records or statements are those for whom you have given written consent. This privacy gives you the freedom to speak openly and honestly with your counselor about your thoughts and feelings. Parents have a right to receive progress reports on their child’s counseling. However, personal information shared by a child during an individual session will be kept confidential unless it involves imminent danger to the child or someone else. Young people will not confide in a counselor if they believe that personal information will be revealed to their parents. You have a right to a copy of your own counseling records. This right is guaranteed under state law (Texas Health and Safety Code, Chapter 611.) You may be charged a reasonable fee for a copy of your records. Certain portions of your record may be withheld from you for a period of time for specific reasons as described in the law. You may read the text of this law through a link at the board’s web site.
For more information about professional counselors, visit the website of the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors at www.dshs.state.tx.us/counselor or call (512) 834-6658.