So you have completed your Masters degree in counseling, probably from a CACREP accredited school, and you’re ready to begin your career. The problem is, no one told you how to get a license (Limited Licensed Professional Counselor aka LLPC), or if they did, you were busy working on finals, internships, paperwork, or ironing your graduation gown…or getting last minute tickets for graduation for the family members you didn’t expect to come.
Honestly, if I had not had a superb intern supervisor, I would have had no clue as to my next steps. Even after he sat down with me, I had to call him several times to work through EXACTLY what I needed to do. I started the process in July 2004 (a month before graduation) and it was not until late September 2004 that I received my license.
What was included in that?
Frustration. Frustration. Frustration.
The process was full of a lot of headaches, trial and error, and eventually going to my school, walking my records over from one office to another and watching them put the stamp on the envelope, since it had been “lost” several times already.
My guess is that things have improved on some levels, but first and foremost, expect to be frustrated.
My point of view
Since I supervise new graduates in Michigan that have their LLPC, I am going to focus this article on applying for the LLPC license in Michigan. I don’t mean to exclude, I just don’t have the expertise to walk through the nuances of another state.
Secondly, I am focusing on the LLPC license, not the LPC. I may do other articles about that soon, but not now.
Thirdly, I am going to use Western Michigan University as an example, because I went there, and also because Western Michigan University has a counseling satellite campus in Traverse City, where I practice. Also, I have a great working relationship with them, and this is a way to help those students.
Lastly, some of these things can be done BEFORE graduation. The State of Michigan will start a file and add things to it as it comes in, so get started a month before graduation if you can, especially looking for a supervisor.
So, this article will most likely help those new graduates, applying for a LLPC in Michigan, especially if you went to Western Michigan University.
Why the urgency?
As soon as you graduate, your priority should be to get this going as soon as possible. Here is why:
- You have worked too hard getting your Master’s degree to waste a moment that you could be earning money.
- None of your hours can start counting (client hours or supervision) until you have the LLPC.
- The sooner you get the hours done, the sooner you can be a fully licensed LPC. In order to get on several insurance panels, they want you to be 2-3 years post full license.
Let me say that another way in a timeline:
Point number three is very important. Let’s do the math. You graduate May 2012 and finally get your LLPC July 1, 2012 from the SOM (State of Michigan). The soonest that you can apply for the LPC is July 1, 2014. In order to get your 3,000 hours and 100 hours of supervision, you have to average 30 hours per week for hours (based on 50 weeks per year) and supervision 4.17 hours per month (100 hours/24 months).
So you apply for your LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor aka full license) on July 1, 2014. Paperwork usually takes 4-6 weeks, so you’d get your LPC around August 15, 2014. That means the soonest that many insurance panels will accept you would be August 15, 2016. That would be if you plan to take insurance (I don’t, but that is for another blog post).
I’ve graduated, now what?*
First, read through the SOM document Counselor Licensure Instructions. As with most government documents, this is not as straightforward as it could be, but read through it anyway. Here is my summary:
- Before you start the paperwork, you should find a supervisor. This is because you need a supervisor as part of the paperwork. All supervisors are not the same. Learn how to find a great LLPC supervisor. Want some help? Check out my blog post: Questions to Ask a Potential Supervisor If you need a supervisor and live in the Traverse City area, let’s talk: LLPC Supervision with Joe.
- Complete the application (to do this you have to have a LLPC supervisor), this person will be noted on the Professional Disclosure Statement and sign off on a few things.
- Get fingerprints done.
- Request an official transcript from your Registrar. If you went to Western Michigan University go to http://www.wmich.edu/registrar/records/transcripts.html and request your official transcript to be forwarded directly to the state. This will cost $5-$30 depending on how fast you want it sent and what delivery method you choose.
- WMU (or your school) will need to sign off on the completed “Certification of Counseling Education”.
- Submit a Professional Disclosure Statement.
*Fill everything out to perfection, one error can delay things significantly and they will make you track down where the paperwork is, what was wrong, and how to fix it. All of this may take hours and hours of your time. Take the time to read through everything several times; it will save you so much time in the end!
Once you get your LLPC, you can begin!
As with anything, there is always extra that you can work on. But once you have the LLPC you are good to go. Just keep up on continuing education, supervision, and hours.
Maybe you want to get going on private practice. If that is case, click around on the blog and learn a few things about how to run one. Maybe you want to start at an agency. Great! Whatever you do, document your hours and supervision. Also, make sure your supervisor keeps track of the supervision hours so s/he can sign off on them.
Thanks for trusting me at this point in your career. I hope you find this blog to be a guide and tool that you use. If this helps you, please let a friend know about it.
Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a therapist, counselor, psychologist, and owner of Mental Wellness Counseling www.mentalwellnesscounseling.com in Traverse City, MI. He helps angry kids, frustrated parents, and distant couples…and just about everyone else. He is a frequent speaker in the Traverse City area, Michigan, and nationally. He helps counselors in private practice through his blog www.PracticeofthePractice.com and through individual consulting.