Mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. But stigma and bias shame us all.
— Bill Clinton

Comparison of Licensure Requirements
for LPCC, MFT, & LCSW

(click link to jump to content)

LPCC

LMFT

LCSW

 

LICENSED PROFESSIONAL CLINICAL COUNSELOR (LPCC)
B & P code: 4996

Scope & Practice

The scope of practice for Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCCs) is set forth in California Business and Professions Code section 4999.20 and Title 16, California Code of Regulations, Section 1820.5, both of which are available in the Board’s Statutes and Regulations handbook.

Section 4999.20. (a):
(1) "Professional clinical counseling" means the application of counseling interventions and psychotherapeutic techniques to identify and remediate cognitive, mental, and emotional issues, including personal growth, adjustment to disability, crisis intervention, and psychosocial and environmental problems, and the use, application, and integration of the coursework and training required by Sections 4999.32 and 4999.33. "Professional clinical counseling" includes conducting assessments for the purpose of establishing counseling goals and objectives to empower individuals to deal adequately with life situations, reduce stress, experience growth, change behavior, and make well-informed, rational decisions.

(2) "Professional clinical counseling" is focused exclusively on the application of counseling interventions and psychotherapeutic techniques for the purposes of improving mental health, and is not intended to capture other, nonclinical forms of counseling for the purposes of licensure. For purposes of this paragraph, "nonclinical" means nonmental health.

Education

60-unit master’s degree in marriage, family and child counseling, or one of six other related degrees

Coursework to prepare counselors for the general practice of counseling includes a minimum of 45 semester units in the following core content areas:

  • Professional orientation, ethics & law in counseling, including CA law & ethics
  • Multicultural counseling theories and techniques
  • Human growth and development, including normal and abnormal behavior
  • Counseling and psychotherapeutic theories & techniques
  • Assessment, appraisal, & testing
  • Principles of diagnosis, treatment planning & prevention of mental & emotional disorders & dysfunctional behavior
  • Career development theories & techniques
  • Group counseling theories & techniques
  • Research and evaluation in Psychopharmacology
  • Minimum of 15 semester units of advanced coursework to develop knowledge in specific treatment issues and/or special populations, & other clinical intervention; instruction must include methods of service delivery in recovery-oriented practice environments and integrate an understanding of various cultures and the social and psychological implications of socioeconomic position

Additional Requirements

  • Addictions Counseling
  • Crisis/Trauma Counseling
  • Advanced counseling & psychotherapeutic theories and techniques
  • Supervised practicum/field work: minimum 6 units (280/hrs. of face-to-face)
  • Additional curricular experiences such as human sexuality, spousal or partner abuse, child abuse, aging, etc. 
  • Continuing education as required by the licensing board
  • 3,000 post-degree hours in a supervised clinical setting

Licensing Exam

  • Professional Counselor cognitive and clinical exams, including CA jurisprudence & ethics

LICENSED MARRIAGE & FAMILY THERAPIST (LMFT))
B&P code: 4980

Scope & Practice

The practice of marriage and family therapy shall mean that service performed with individuals, couples, or groups wherein interpersonal relationships are examined for the purpose of achieving more adequate, satisfying, and productive marriage and family adjustments. This practice includes relationship and premarriage counseling.

The application of marriage and family therapy principles and methods includes, but is not limited to, the use of applied psychotherapeutic techniques, to enable individuals to mature and grow within marriage and the family, the provision of explanations and interpretations of the psychosexual and psychosocial aspects of relationships, and the use, application, and integration of the coursework and training required by Sections 4980.37, 4980.40, and 4980.41.

Education

60-unit master’s degree in marriage, family and child counseling, or one of six other related degrees.

  • Single, integrated program primarily designed to train marriage & family therapists
  • Instruction includes 12 units in marital and family systems approaches to treatment as well as the following: 
    • CA law and professional ethics for marriage & family therapists
    • Cross-cultural mores and values, multicultural development
    • Developmental issues & life events & their effect on family relationships
    • Theories of marriage, family, & child therapy
    • Psychological testing
    • Planning & prevention of mental & emotional disorders & dysfunctional behavior
    • Diagnosis, assessment, prognosis, & treatment of mental disorders
    • Psychopharmacology
    • Substance abuse, co-occurring disorders and addiction
    • Psychotherapeutic orientations directly related to marriage and family therapy
    • A variety of approaches to treatment of children
    • Methods of service delivery in recovery-oriented practice environments and integrate an understanding of various cultures and the social and psychological implications of socioeconomic position

Additional Requirements

  • Supervised practicum: minimum 6 units (225 hours of face-to-face experience)
  • Additional curricular experiences, such as alcoholism & chemical abuse, human sexuality, spousal or partner abuse, child abuse, aging, etc.
  • 3,000 hours, 1,300 of which can be earned pre-degree, in a supervised clinical setting

Licensing Exam

  • Marriage and family therapy cognitive and clinical exams, including CA jurisprudence & ethics

LICENSED CLINICAL SOCIAL WORKER (LCSW)
B & P code: 4996

The practice of clinical social work is defined as a service in which a special knowledge of social resources, human capabilities, and the part that unconscious motivation plays in determining behavior, is directed at helping people to achieve more adequate, satisfying, and productive social adjustments. The application of social work principles and methods includes, but is not restricted to, counseling and using applied psychotherapy of a nonmedical nature with individuals, families, or groups; providing information and referral services; providing or arranging for the provision of social services; explaining or interpreting the psychosocial aspects in the situations of individuals, families, or groups; helping communities to organize, to provide, or to improve social or health services; or doing research related to social work.

Psychotherapy, within the meaning of this chapter, is the use of psychosocial methods within a professional relationship, to assist the person or persons to achieve a better psychosocial adaptation, to acquire greater human realization of psychosocial potential and adaptation, to modify internal and external conditions which affect individuals, groups, or communities in respect to behavior, emotions, and thinking, in respect to their intrapersonal and interpersonal processes.

Education

Master’s degree from an accredited school of social work.

  • Values and ethics
  • Diversity
  • Human behavior and the social environment
  • Social Work practice, social welfare policy
  • Populations at risk & economic justice

Additional Requirements

  • Additional curricular experiences, such as alcoholism & chemical abuse, human sexuality, spousal or partner abuse, child abuse, aging, etc.
  •  3,200 hours post-degree supervised experience
  • Field education total of 900 hours for master’s programs
  • Continuing education as required by the licensing board

Licensing Exam

Social work cognitive and clinical exams, including CA jurisprudence & ethics.