What's an LCPC?

Page updated: 5-24-18

I'm glad you asked.  LCPC stands for Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. In Maryland, licensed counselors are all considered LCPCs. You might see it written differently sometimes like LPC. LPC stands for Licensed Professional Counselor.

Licensed Counselors by any other name

There are even more acronyms that refer to a licensed counselor. LMHC stands for Licensed Mental Health Counselor. LCMHC means Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor.  The list goes on.  See the chart below.

A Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor or LCPC is also referred to as 

  • counselor
  • professional counselor
  • psychotherapist
  • counseling psychotherapist
  • therapist

Safety is why licensure happens

Each State has slightly different criteria for granting licenses to people.  And a State may have a different label for their mental health professionals. Whatever label is used, the word “licensed” is the first word.

In the United States, in order to be licensed, you need to be approved by a State Board of Professionals.  They are a group of people who work for the State government. State Boards ensure that individuals who seek licenses to practice counseling, called licensure:

  • have actual training in it
  • follow a code of ethical conduct
  • follow a certain standard of how to practice

In short, the job of a State Board is to protect the health and safety of its State’s residents. 

LCPC applicant supplies proof

In general, State’s require proof that a person has training. An applicant must:

  1. have completed a master’s level educational program in counseling psychology, mental health counseling, addictions counseling or another related counseling specialty;
  2. have the required number of clinical hours of practicing what they learned (in other words, they have to have experience);
  3. they follow standards of practice;
  4. they follow an ethical conduct of behavior and cultural sensitivity that respects people of all cultures, faiths and identities.

In most States, like Maryland, the State Board also requires all licensed mental health providers to be fingerprinted. This is done so that full background checks from both the State and the F.B.I. can occur.  If you’d like to learn more about Maryland’s Board of Professional Counselors and Therapists, click here.

Board Certified & National Certification

The National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) is a non-profit organization. They are responsible for the national exams that all professional counselors have to take. All U.S. States require these exams before a license issued. The NBCC also performs other functions like:

  • Board Certification for licensed counselors who voluntarily submit to further requirements;
  • Clinical supervision training for licensed counselors who want to provide supervision to recent counseling graduates. These are called LGPCs or Licensed Professional Graduate Counselors.

Free Phone Consult

It's important to work with a counselor who's a good fit for you. I offer a free 10-minute call to explore the best steps forward.  Schedule a call.

Emergency Numbers

If you are experiencing an emergency, please call:

  • 911
  • 240-777-4000: Crisis Hotline, Montgomery County, MD
  • 800-422-0009: Maryland state-wide Crisis Hotline
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline website

More counselors by other names

A sister profession to professional counseling is social work. A Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW, LSW) is also referred to as a counselor, psychotherapist, and therapist. Of course, there known also as social workers.

This profession is very similar to professional counseling and regulated by State Boards, too. The licensure and oversight process for social workers is just as rigorous as the process for professional counselors.

When a counselor is not a counselor

Not all counselors are licensed. There are some counselors who advertise that they are family counselors or individual counselors or more, but they are not licensed. It can be misleading and that is unsafe. For your safety, confirm a counselor is licensed.  It’s easy. In Maryland, you can find out if your counselor is licensed by clicking here.


  • Maryland Department of Mental Health
  • Maryland Board of Professional Counselors (BOPC)
  • Maryland BOPC Counselor Verification

I hope this general information page has been helpful.  Did you see errors? Think something should be added? Are you curious about more info related to this topic? Send an email.

> > What's an LCPC?

Lucrezia Mangione is in private practice. She is a board certified licensed professional counselor, board certified telemental health provider, neurofeedback trainer, counselor supervisor, educator, and nurse wellness education consultant. View her profile.