As I wrote the last segment, you probably noticed I used the word “Licensed” often. I like what Merriam-Webster says:
“Permission granted by competent authority to engage in a business or occupation or in an activity otherwise unlawful”.
No matter if it is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Social Worker or any other Licensed Psychotherapist, each has an educational and preparatory procedure all perspective therapists are expected to follow. State boards establish these procedures before giving a license to a potential therapist, as a way to ensure quality.
Each state has its own variation in their expectations: A little more or less, graduate level course work; a little more or less “practice counseling” under the watchful supervision of a more experienced Licensed therapist. To make a long story short, there are two levels of counseling licensures: A lower level licensure for beginners; and a more advanced licensure. In Arkansas a counselor must go through and apprentice stage before being allowed to practice more independently at the more advanced level. Merriam-Webster states an apprentice is: “a person who learns a job or skill by working for a fixed period of time with someone who is very good at that job or skill”.
In modern language the term “associate” is used. A Licensed Associate Counselor (LAC) or Licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (LAMFT) never actually work FOR their supervisor. However, they are guided, coached, taught, corrected, and perhaps even eliminated by a supervisor, if need be. This is all done to help you, the potential client.
Arkansas Counselors have all completed a minimum 60 graduate semester hour Professional Master’s degree in Counseling or a closely related discipline (such as Clinical Psychology). They have passed a national examination, and a state examination. They must practice a minimum of 3000 hours under the supervision of an experienced counselor specially trained to supervise new counselors in order to be fully licensed as an LPC or LMFT.
A Licensed Profession Counselor (LPC) and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) have successfully met all the criteria to get their more full licensure. However, even between these two licensures, there are differences. This will be discussed next time.