The process of becoming a licensed professional counselor (LPC) follows various steps which are meant to clearly identify and define an individual as one is given the authority to practice counseling. The National Board for Certified Counselors (2016) stipulates that respective states have the authority to credit professional LPC individuals to practice counseling in their jurisdictions. According to the American Counseling Association (2020), LPCs comprises of individuals that are tasked for care provision to millions of Americans suffering from substance abuse and mental health.” The LPCs are required to possess a master’s degree level of education to provide them with the necessary expertise and knowledge essential to offer help to millions of Americans in dire need. Applying across all states, counselors are required to have “completed at least three thousand hours of post-master’s degree which comprise of clinical experience that is under supervision within two years of completion of ongoing education credits. Also, passing of the National Counselor Examination (NCE) or state-organized tests, and observing a strict Code of Ethics and accepted principles of practice” (ACA, 2020). Thus, state licensure boards have the mandate to respectively issue certification fundamental to protect the public in the respective jurisdictions (NBCC, 2020).
The Texas state board is referred to as the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors (TSBEPC). It provides streamlined measures and requirements to licensing and certifying professional LPCs. The TSBEPC operates under the guidelines and regulations of Chapter 611 of the Texas Health and Safety Code (DSHS, 2020). For enhanced accountability and smooth operations pf the LPCs in the state of Texas, Senate Bill 913 was signed by the State’s Governor in 2013. The new bill changed the number of times to which an applicant can be allowed to fail the test before meeting other requirements (DSHS, 2020).
The TSBEPC mission is in line with that of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), which has been sharpened to enhance the emphasis on maintaining high standards of public health services. The mission primarily focuses on “improving the safety, health, and welfare of Texans by ascertaining reputable progress and management of public resources, and an emphasis on fundamental public health purposes and services” (DSHS, 2020).
Regulatory Authority and Scope
The Health and Safety Code Title 7 Subtitle E Chapter 611 outlines the records on mental health which offer definitions (Sec. 611.001). The regulations on confidentiality of information and probation against exposure (Sec. 611.002). The people who can potentially claim privileges and right to access confidential information (Sec. 611.003). Authorization of disclosure (Sec. 611.004 – Sec. 611.006). The cancelation or withdrawal of consent and appeal by the patient in Sec. 611.007 and Sec. 611.008, respectively (Statutes DSHS, n.d.). Also, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) that operates at the Department of Health and Human Services provides the enforcement of certain regulations that are stipulated in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) (DSHS, 2020). The compliance with the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act is an integral part of rules and regulations that LPCs must ascertain compliance. The Senate Bill 913 complements the Senate Bill 200 strengthens the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) that is the regulatory authority for the LPCs and application processes (DSHS, 2020).
State Board/Committee Structures
The TSBEPC current board members comprise of Steven Christopherson who is the LPC-Chair, Roy Smith – Public Member, Loretta J. Bradley – LPC-S, Sarah Abraham – Public Member, Carolyne Janie Stubblefield – LPC-S, Steven Hallbauer – Public Member, Brenda S. Compagnone – LPC-S, Christoper S. Taylor – LPC-S and Leslie Pohl – Public Member (DSHS, 2019). The Board Committee Meetings are arranged based on key issues/agenda that they discuss. Such include specialized and supervisory trends, complaints committee, rules committee, testing and continuing education and applications and supervision,.
Requirements for Licensure or Certification
The application of a new license for LPC, an individual is required to have attained a master’s or doctoral degree in the field of counseling or associated courses. The education levels must be accredited by a recognized university or learning institution. The candidate must meet at least forty-eight graduate semester hours. A supervised workshop experience is required for primary counseling. These must meet a minimum three hundred clock-hours, of which one hundred of the clock-hours must be from a direct contact client. On top of the graduate degree, a candidate is expected to successfully pass the National Counselor Exam (NCE) as well as the Texas Jurisprudence Exam (TJE). The provisional LPE license requires interns to complete a three thousand hours administered in a controlled environment with at least 1,500 hours comprising of seamless client contact (DSHS, 2020).
Description of the Credentialing/Licensing Process
The application process can be by mail or online. The new applicant is required to fill forms of the supervised experience documentation, practicum documentation, and supervisory agreement – all of which are subject to board approval. The LPCs are issued with a temporary license and provisional license at various stages of scrutiny before the final approval. The upgrade to a full LPC is charged a fee of $106.000 and takes approximately 3 to 4 weeks. Furthermore, in case of any deficiencies – applicants are notified by mail (DSHS, 2020).
Description of the Compliant Process
The TSBEPC outlines that all persons wishing to file a complaint on any of the LPC in the state may contact the board through writing to:
Complaints Management and Investigative Section
P.O. Box 141369
Austin, Texas 78714-1369.
Alternatively, the complainant may call 1-800-942-5540 to seek for more information on the complaints process.