By David Joel Miller
October CALPCC board meeting.
This year California became the 50th state to License Professional Counselors. The official designation in California is “Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor” LPCC for short. Other states had some form of professional counselor’s licensure before California, so we are still finding our way as this profession matures and adapts to California.
CALPCC, a non-profit organization, is the statewide organization for this new profession. Last weekend was the annual “retreat” for CALPCC’s board of directors which I was able to attend.
CALPCC has seen fit to appoint me to that board to fill out an open board member term. I am excited about this opportunity.
Some short recaps of what we talked about are below. Remember that as a new board member these are my impressions and that I can’t speak officially for the board. So any sentiments expressed are purely my own. Here are some of the questions that came up.
1. Why are Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT’s or LMFT’s) becoming LPCC’s also?
At least 4 of the CALPCC board members, myself included, are also licensed as LMFT’s so there was some discussion of why LMFT’s might want to also become LPCC’s.
My belief is that there are things that each profession does that the other does not do and to best serve my clients I needed to be trained in both areas.
Most LMFT’s work with couples, families and sometimes children. Since I see some children, couples, and families I need to stay licensed, active and up to date in the LMFT field.
Much of my private practice is in individual counseling, particularly something I loosely call “men’s issues.” LPCC’s are specially trained in things like career counseling and mediation. Sometimes this shades over into the area of life coaching. I approach these issues by trying to help clients solve problems that are causing social or occupational problems or interfering with having a happy life.
2. Why should someone join CALPCC?
Lots of counselors are already members of one or more professional therapist or counselor organizations. They asked why they should join another group.
My view is that if I was solely an LMFT I would need to belong to the one or two organizations in that field. Since I am also an LPCC I felt the need to join the organization that is specific to LPCC’s, which would be CALPCC. I chose to be a member of organizations in both fields and would recommend that to other people who are dually licensed.
3. What are the benefits of being a member of CALPCC?
CALPCC maintains a website. There is information on the website for anyone who is interested in the new Professional Clinical Counselor profession. There is also a member’s only area with additional information that is useful to LPCC’s that may not be of interest to non-counselors. Other professional associations also use this member’s only format for some of their website content to encourage those who use the resources to help pay the cost.
I recommend that if you are licensed or seeking licensure as an LPCC, you want to be a member of CALPCC and get access to the members-only content on the website.
4. Can LPCC’s bill Medi-Cal?
Not yet, but we believe this is coming and coming soon. At this point, there are only a few LPCC’s licensed in California. The last license number I heard was about LPC200. Those who are getting licensed now are people with previous other licenses who are getting a second license.
We were told that there is a huge pile of applications for the LPCC license that were mailed on the last day of 2011. BBS will be working on that pile for a while. By the time those licenses are completed and the BBS moves to issuing new licenses to people who did not have a previous license we hope that the Medi-Cal approval will be completed.
There are other federally funded programs in which LPCC’s are already being hired.
5. Can LPCC’s open a private practice and take private insurance?
Yes, they can. Who the insurance company place on their panel is up to each individual insurance company. I am on several panels and each one that I have looked at will take LPCC’s.
That does not mean that if you are newly licensed as an LPCC the insurance company will automatically add you. Most insurance companies want to know they are sending their customers to someone who is reliable. They require providers to have a certain length of time in the profession before they add you to their panel. They also look to see if they have too many or too few counselors on their list for your area.
This is not insurance companies picking on the new LPCC profession. These rules have also been applied to existing LMFT’s and LCSW’s.
Most insurance companies I have looked at require you to have been licensed for 2 to 5 or even 6 years before they will consider you for their panel unless you have a particular skill they need on their list. So if you speak Russian and Swahili you may get on insurance panels sooner.
6. Should students join CALPCC now or wait till graduation?
I recommend that you join while still in school and read the members only updates while you are preparing for your exams. This keeps you up to date on the latest events and trainings in your field.
Also – the CALPCC student member price is VERY reasonable.
Consider that the really good counselors and therapists do not stop learning when they graduate. If you want to be the best possible therapist or counselor you can be, stay active and up to date in your field.
If you are a client or an out of California professional forgive the very California LPCC specific post. The last two weeks have been extra busy for me. Shortly I will return to my posts on recovery, resiliency and having a happy life.
For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog, there is also a Facebook authors page, in its infancy, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. Thanks to all who read this blog.
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