So, there are a LOT of different people out there who call themselves “therapists”; it’s a veritable alphabet soup!  There are LCSWs, LMFTs, LPCCs, LCADCs, to mention a few.  What do all the letters mean?

  • LCSW – Licensed Clinical Social Worker
  • LMFT – Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
  • LPCC – Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor
  • LCADC – Licensed Clinical Alcohol and Drug Counselor

So what makes a Licensed Professional so special?  Generally speaking, a licensed mental health professional has completed at least 60 hours of graduate-level coursework (above and beyond a 120-hour Bachelor’s degree), has taken a National licensing exam, and has accrued the number of direct clinical hours and supervision hours required by each specialty’s state licensing board (usually numbering anywhere from 1,500 to 4,000 hours).  Once all this is achieved, only then can an individual apply to be an independently-licensed professional.  Think of the time and energy (and money!) spent getting to this place!

I am a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) in the state of Kentucky.  I earned my license in September of 2003, so I have 16 years of experience, post-licensure.  What makes an LPCC so special?  This is a brief summary of what sets an LPCC apart from other specialties:

  1. Has a Master’s or Doctoral degree in Counseling;
  2. Emphasizes multicultural competence and respect for diverse worldviews;
  3. Focuses on wellness, whole-person development, and client empowerment – a proactive approach to mental health;
  4. Encourages people to be genuine and to work to find their own authentic self, even if that authentic self is somewhat different than dominant cultural norms;
  5. Assists with issues caused by typical life stressors, such as grief and loss, relationship problems, trauma and disasters, life transition difficulties, and questions about sexuality;
  6. Diagnoses and treats mental disorders;
  7. Serves as a front-line resource in schools, as the eyes and ears for early signs of emotional distress caused by bullying, harassment, and other forms of abuse and trauma;
  8. Provides assistance in various settings with diverse populations (i.e. college campuses, hospitals, agencies, etc) to help them address issues that may have an effect on their mental health and overall well-being;
  9. Adheres to the ACA’s Code of Ethics – the standard code that most states have adopted.  It’s the first code that speaks to the ethics of using social media with clients and addresses proper and improper interactions with clients;
  10. Is passionate, diverse, and committed to helping people from all walks of life and all depths of despair to survive and thrive in today’s world.

-Denise Hutchins, LPCC-S