Ca. Professional Counselors – CALPCC and LPCC’s

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

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.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Should LPC interns tell people they are interns?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Counseling questions

Counseling questions.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Do you have to tell what your therapist license status is?

Morning Question #17

YES! Sorry folks I know sometimes this is a pain.

If you are an intern say you are an intern. If you are a trainee say so. Once you say what you are, you may end up needing to spend some time explaining the designation. When people call me Dr. Miller I have to explain that I am a Therapist and Counselor and that I have a Master’s Degree, not a Ph.D.

People with a doctorate may be able to call themselves “Doctor” but they need to explain that they are Ph.D.’s or PsyD’s not medical doctors. Most places Ph.D.’s can’t prescribe and we all need to help clients understand what we do and not mislead the public.

If this bothers you, go into something with a less rigorous code of ethics.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

New Counseling Website

New Counseling and Therapy Website

The new website for my counseling practice http://counselorfresno.com/  launched yesterday. Honest. This is no Joke. That I got this up and running is truly amazing, me, that old guy, who used to think that a “computer” was that guy in accounting, has my own therapist website. Mostly it is about information for my clients in private practice here in Fresno California. There is a page of “Frequently Asked Questions” about counseling and therapy that some of you may want to look at. Shortly there will also be a page of suggested resources. So check it out and let me know what you think.

I would never have gotten it done had it not been for the experience of using WordPress to do this blog. Don’t panic though. The counselorssoapbox.com blog will continue also. That’s it then.

Lonely Fruit Flies get drunk

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Fruit fly

Lonely Fruit flies drink.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Lonely fruit flies get drunk.

Lonely fruit flies drink almost 50% more alcohol than fruit flies with mates. Maybe this should reassure us, maybe not. We have known for a long time that some other mammals will get drunk. Check the internet and you will find videos of drunken monkeys. So far the question was, do monkeys drink like humans or do humans who drink act like monkeys? Maybe both?

There are reports also of elephants that raid villager’s beer and get drunk. This is the first time I have seen an account of drunken fruit flies. And this account gives us the reason for the fruit flies drinking.

Did we really need a study of fruit flies drinking? Does this sound like something we thought we should know without a study? I had to read it twice to see why they did this study. They I started thinking they may be on to something. If lonely fruit flies drank more maybe it is not just us humans that would drink given the chance. Hang with me on this.

This study, done in San Francisco, where else, compared the drinking of two groups of fruit flies. Knowing that part of the world the way I do I am surprised that this experiment has not already been repeated using fraternity men. Maybe it has. Send in your comments if you know of a repeat of this experiment using some other animal.

Saying the fruit flies were lonely is, of course, my interpretation. They are really hard to interview and fruit flies rarely talk about their feelings. We have to guess from their actions how fruit flies are feeling, which may be another way in which fruit flies and male humans are alike.

One way in which fruit flies are unlike humans – sort of – is that female fruit flies who have mated once lose interest in mating again. So the researchers let the female fruit flies breed, presumably without the benefit of alcohol to make the male fruit flies look better.

Then they let some more male fruit flies have a go at the lady flies. The late-arriving male flies got turned down. This is where it starts to get interesting and makes some sense of why all the flies and the alcohol.

When the males who got to mate when offered the alcohol could take it or leave it. But the male fruit flies who got turned down drank a lot more.

The unmated male flies, I prefer to think of them as lonely, had much lower levels of one specific brain chemical. A similar chemical called Neuropeptide Y is found in humans. When humans are sad or depressed the levels of Neuropeptide Y drop.

The conclusion I draw from this research is that sadness, depression, and loneliness causes a physical craving for alcohol whether you are a human or a fruit fly.

Now that is no excuse for drinking, particularly excessive drinking. In humans, we know that sex alone is not enough to reduce the urge to drink. But what stands out most for me is that a lack of warm close relationships increases the risks of a negative emotion and that predisposes a human to substance abuse.

There you have it, get depressed, Neuropeptide Y drops, and you crave alcohol whether you are man or fruit fly.

As for those lonely fruit flies, what should we do? Maybe start a charity to form fruit fly bowling leagues or quidditch tournaments?  Anyone know of a dating service for lonely fruit flies?

Till next time, keep working on your happy relationships.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

The ambulance at the corner

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Hospital emergency.

Ambulance.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

The ambulance at the corner.

There was an ambulance at the corner this morning. I almost missed it, but I had to stop for the light. I glanced over to see what they were doing. The light might change any moment.

There was a homeless man I had seen at that corner before. The brick wall by the gas station shielded him from view. I saw his shopping cart on the sidewalk. The ambulance was parked just beyond. That nameless homeless person was motionless on his blanket, there on the sidewalk with the EMT’s all around.

There was a woman standing nearby holding the leash to her dog. She was staring at the homeless man, lying there so still. We don’t see a lot of homeless people in this part of town. Down on the south side, we see them, but not out north. Lately the homeless are coming farther north, or did he use to live here. Are people up north starting to be homeless also?

While I watched the paramedics rolled the man over. He didn’t seem to move. I wondered was he dead, was he unconscious? Maybe he was mentally ill. Most of the street people are mentally ill. Maybe he was a drug addict, lots of them are homeless. Maybe he was both mentally ill and homeless – or not.

A house near to me is vacant. They lost it to foreclosure. This used to be a good neighborhood, middle class and full of promise, now there are more for sale signs than residents. There are also lots of houses that sit empty, we all know they have been empty for a very long time, just the banks haven’t put the for sale signs, the “someone’s dreams died here” sign, on them yet.

Maybe that homeless man with the shopping cart was the man who used to live on the corner. His house went in foreclosure. Then his wife and kids left, gone to live with her parents. They said he drank a lot and then he was gone.

So I wondered who this unmoving man was by the corner. Why did he go to sleep on the sidewalk last night? Did he die of an overdose or of exposure? Was he just unconscious? They should try to revive him so he could – So he could what, come back to sleep behind the brick wall by the corner?

I have to hold on to hope. Somehow we will find a way to help those who are homeless, those who are addicted, those whose mental illness has taken them from family and friends.  But the hope seems fainter now, looking at that man lying on the sidewalk as I wonder what in his life went wrong.

It would be reassuring to think that being homeless and sleeping on the sidewalk only happens to bad people, people who deserve it. But I know from my own experiences that bad things sometimes happen to people who work hard and try their best. If only I could say he deserved his fate I might not feel so afraid and venerable.

Why do the homeless seem so old, so old and young? Living on the street ages you. I know that. And there are more seniors who can’t pay their bills now. Why didn’t someone help him?  But I know that there is less money now for any sort of help for people, less than we used to have. We needed the tax cuts for businesses to create jobs and now there is less money for people who don’t work.

Is all that stuff on my shopping list really that important? Do we really need more stuff? What does it say about me that I live in a society that appears to values things more than people? Did some abstract thing called a recession cause this or was it a bursting housing bubble that was the cause? Or did this happen because I and people like me stopped caring about other people? I wondered what I should do.

And then the light changed.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Clear Values

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

When you are struggling with life’s problems it is difficult to keep your priorities straight. People who have anxiety disorders find everything is so important they run from task to task with never a chance to rest. People with depression find any and all tasks overwhelming. Sometimes it is hard to take any action. Recovering people are often faced with the need to decide what is really important in their life. What things need to be kept and what things can be let go. We call this process “values clarification.”

“Values Clarification” is also an exercise that we sometimes run in group therapy. It goes something like this. Each member of the group is asked for two things that are important to them. We go around the group and everyone gets a chance to tell us about two things that are important in their life. I like to write this on a board or paper in front of the group as I go. Sometimes we get several things that seem almost the same and need to be lumped together. For example, one person may say my job and another says his career. I make a bigger category of employment.

These lists contain quite a variety of things. Some people nominate material items, a car, money or a place to live. Other people list self-improvement things like education, sobriety or achieving a life goal. Many people mention relationships, like with their wife, husband or children. Some people include spiritually values like God or religion. And there are often nominations for global goods like peace, health, ending pollution and saving endangered species.

Now I have found that the list I get varies a lot depending on the group involved in this exercise. People in a locked hospital because of psychosis are likely to mention basic needs of life, like food or a place to live. People in substance abuse treatment are more likely to mention things like sobriety and attending twelve-step meetings. They are also more likely to look at internal personal things as important like peace of mind and self-respect.

The next step in the process involves clarifying these values. Son and daughter might be combined to make children and so on. Each member of the group is then given three votes for items on our refined list. This requires them to vote for at least one thing they did not nominate. It also allows people to change their mind and vote for things that they did not think of before. In the process of voting a strange thing takes place.

The list has some items with a lot of votes and others with few or no votes. In most every case I have ever done this, relationships, family, and friends rose to the top of the list. So did intangibles. Peace, happiness, sobriety, and security, which beat the heck out of money, cars, and pleasure most every time. In recovery, we find that the values we hold drive our actions. It is important to be clear on what really matters.

So if relationships and peace of mind are so important to us – why do so many people spend all their time and effort on making money and getting things?

What is important to you? What do you spend your time pursuing?  Care to comment and share what you value most?

Special thanks to Irene Aparicio, LCSW, an early supervisor in my career who taught me this exercise.

Till next time, David Joel Miller, LMFT, LPCC

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Two David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Amazon Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.

Why your child won’t behave

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Sad child

Sad.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Your child misbehaves.

The number one complaint that brings parents and children to most child mental health clinics is the complaint “my kid won’t behave, won’t mind, won’t do what I tell him to, or some variation of this theme. This is so common a complaint that I am tempted to tell a lot of families “Of course he won’t mind you, he is a child and you are his parent.” But that doesn’t solve the problem, and parents, most of the time, want their children to mind.

The occasional parent who could care less if their child behaved – well those parents come in too, referred by the school or the police. The symptom checklist almost always includes things like lies, steals, argues with adults, hits and so on. Usually, the parent wants us to find a way to get their child to behave. Sometimes they include in the symptoms “does not listen to adults, does not pay attention to what he is doing.” This could be ADHD, sometimes it is, but most of the time, the truth be told, the child is ignoring the adult. So what do most parents do about this situation and what should they do?

Children rarely grow out of bad behavior.

Lots of parents with poorly behaved preschoolers take the obvious path and do nothing. Their thinking is that the child will grow out of bad behavior. They often do grow out of it – the question is which way do they grow? Uncorrected, undisciplined, (read this as untrained not as unpunished) they grow out of it by turning into something worse, bossy disrespectful kids who tell the parents what to do. Why is it the universal nature of things for so many kids to grow disrespectful as they get older?

On simple reason for this issue is that growth in and of its self, creates conflict.  The baby who can’t walk does not get into very many things, the toddler does. As children grow up they try out new things, sometimes parents like the things their child tries, but other times the child does something really dangerous or irritating. Now when the kid does something wrong there are a few ways this can go. The worst one is for the parent to do nothing, give the child the impression that whatever they do is OK with you and you could care less. If you don’t care about what your child does why should she?

Throughout the child’s life, maybe the parent’s also, the child always wants to do things they are not yet old enough or ready enough to do. Their urges are always way out in front of their skill level. Very young kids don’t get it when you tell them “don’t do that” you need to get up and make sure they stop doing that.

Your relationship with the child matters.

One important determinant of how well-behaved your child will be is how close you are to each other. In technical terms, we call this attachment. The time to start being close to your children is when they are very young. If you have a close relationship with your infant or toddler they are much more likely to want to obey and please you when they get older. Don’t worry about spoiling your child. Just because you show love and caring will not make your child spoiled. The better the parent-child relationship is the easier discipline will be.

Even if you and your child did not attach as closely as you might now wish don’t give up. One way to improve the parent-child bond is to play with your children. Some parents got the idea that playing was a time waster that only children got to do. That is wrong. Some form of play and fun is good for humans regardless of the age. Play is valuable, especially playing games with rules because it teaches the child the ability to learn rules. Rules change from game to game and they also change depending on where you are and your role in life. Kids who are good at learning new games appear to be good at learning to adapt to new situations.

Separating is natural.

Most kids will go through periods when they push parents away. Sometimes they need to define who they are as a person separate from their parents. Other times they feel the need to align with friends and reduce their involvement with the parents. Don’t let these episodes of pushing you away be an end to your relationship. Try to stay connected and watch for a time when your child shows an interest in reconnecting.

Now some children are more resistant to discipline than others. Sometimes the parents do everything they can, play with their child, work on good attachment, praise them for successes and still, there are discipline problems. At that point, parents turn to professionals and the professionals recommend some form of behavioral modification.

Many people misunderstand behavioral modification. They have only two tools, rewards and punishments. So there is a temptation for the rewards to turn into outright bribes. And the punishments get increasingly stringent, often to the point of abuse. Behavioral modification has lots of techniques beyond the stick and the carrot.

In future blog posts, we will talk more about modifying behavior, your child’s and your own. I also want to talk some more about recovery and resiliency. This brings us right up to the current moment.

Soon it will be New Years and lots of people will be making resolutions. How do you make resolutions you will be able to keep? How do you avoid making impossible to keep resolutions? Before we can talk about changing our children we need to talk about how we change ourselves. How does that process of change work? Stay tuned for more on changing to have a happy, resilient life.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Three David Joel Miller Books are available now!

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Casino Robbery is a novel about a man with PTSD who must cope with his symptoms to solve a mystery and create a new life.

SasquatchWandering through a hole in time, they encounter Sasquatch. Can they survive? The guests had come to Meditation Mountain to find themselves. Trapped in the Menhirs during a sudden desert storm, two guests move through a porthole in time and encounter long extinct monsters. They want to get back to their own time, but the Sasquatch intends to kill them.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Books are now available on Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Barnes & Noble, and many other online stores.

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

Want the latest on news from recoveryland, the field of counseling, my writing projects, speaking and teaching? Please sign up for my newsletter at – Newsletter. I promise not to share your email or to send you spam, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and Co-occurring disorders see my Facebook author’s page, davidjoelmillerwriter. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com.