Licensed professional counselors (LPCs) are mental health workers who are qualified to provide therapy and counseling services in both individual and group settings. The LPC title is typically used in the United States, though countries such as Canada also have similar professionals who are referred to as counselors. These mental health professionals can provide a range of therapy services to many different groups of people, though they typically cannot prescribe medication. In most cases a medical doctor or nurse practitioner must prescribe any medications required by an LPC's clients. Many jurisdictions allow LPCs to operate private practices, while others have some type of restriction on that type of activity.
In the United States, LPCs are one of of the few types of professionals who are permitted to provide psychotherapy, counseling, and other mental health services. They are granted licenses by the individual states, though the requirements in each tend to be somewhat similar. Before an individual can qualify to become an LPC, he typically needs to earn a master's degree in a relevant field of study. Many LPCs have more advanced degrees, though that is typically not a requirement. They usually are required to provide a certain number of hours of counseling services while under close supervision before a license is issued.
There are many different services that an LPC can offer, and they are also able to work in a variety of settings. LPCs are typically qualified to work with clients in all different age ranges, including children, teens, adults, and the elderly. They can also help people address many different types of emotional and mental issues, including addiction, depression, anxiety, and a variety of different disorders. In many cases they will also help people come to terms with the loss of loved ones or various traumatic situations.
Many different specialties exist that licensed professional counselors can choose from, and which can affect exactly what they do on a day to day basis. Some LPCs work in facilities such as hospitals, prisons, and schools, each of which can require different services. In high school and university settings, an LPC may act as a career development counselor or help students deal with emotional and mental issues. It is typically also possible for an LPC to go into private practice, though some jurisdictions restrict that activity. Some states have two similar professional credentials, such as LPC and licensed mental health counselor (LMHC), in which case one is sometimes allowed to operate a private practice while the other may not.