Licensed Psychologist, Board Certified, Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed Associate Professional Counselor: What does it mean?

What is a Licensed Psychologist?

Psychologists are highly trained professionals with expertise in the areas of human behavior, mental health assessment, diagnosis and treatment, and behavior change. Psychologists apply scientifically validated procedures to help people change their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

After graduation from college, psychologists spend an average of 7 years in graduate education training and research before receiving a doctoral degree. As part of their training, they must complete a supervised clinical internship in a hospital or organized health setting and at least 1 year of post-doctoral supervised experience before they can practice independently in any health care arena. It is this combination of doctoral-level training and clinical internship that distinguishes psychologists from many other mental health care providers.

Psychologists must be licensed by the state or jurisdiction in which they practice. Licensure laws are intended to protect the public by limiting licensure to those persons qualified to practice psychology as defined by state law. In Georgia, renewal of this license depends upon the demonstration of continued competence and requires continuing education.

What is a Board Certified Psychologist (ABPP)?

Being board certified in one of the specialties of the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) means that a psychologist has undergone peer review of specialty credentials and passed an examination focused on foundational and functional competencies of the specialty. Board certification means that a psychologist has been examined and deemed competent in a formally recognized specialty. It further signifies that the specialist has voluntarily sought peer review and examination. ABPP board certification is an unequivocal credential certifying that the individual “has met the qualifying, examination, and professional standing requirements for specialty board certification” (as described on clinical health board certificate). Board certification is a valuable credential in clinical practice.

ABPP Mission Statement (https://www.abpp.org/About.aspx):

The American Board of Professional Psychology serves the public by promoting the provision of quality psychological services through the examination and certification of professional psychologists engaged in specialty practice. 

ABPP Value Statement:

Board Certification through the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) provides peer and public recognition of demonstrated competence in its affiliated specialty areas. Additionally, Board Certification through ABPP provides the professional with increased opportunities for career growth, including employability, mobility, and financial compensation.

The American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) provides certification for doctoral-level licensed psychologists in 15 specialty areas. In 2017, approximately 3,900, or 4 percent, of licensed psychologists in the United States were board certified. (https://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/09/datapoint)

What is a LIcensed Professional Counselor (LPC)?

Licensed professional counselors (LPCs) are master’s-degreed mental health service providers, trained to work with individuals, families, and groups in treating mental, behavioral, and emotional problems and disorders. State licensure requirements for professional counselors typically include: 1) possession of a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling from a national or regionally-accredited institution of higher education, including an internship and coursework on human behavior and development, effective counseling strategies, ethical practice, and other core knowledge areas; 2) completion of a minimum of 3,000 hours of post-master’s degree supervised clinical experience, performed within two to three years, and periodic completion of continuing education credits/hours after obtaining licensure; 3) passage of the National Counselor Examination (NCE) or a similar state-recognized exam; and 4) adherence to a strict Code of Ethics and recognized standards of practice, as regulated by the state’s counselor licensure board. 

The practice of professional counseling includes, but is not limited to, the diagnosis and treatment of mental and emotional disorders, including addictive disorders; psychoeducational techniques aimed at the prevention of such disorders; consultation to individuals, couples, families, groups, and organizations; and research into more effective therapeutic treatment modalities. Counselors’ training in the provision of counseling and therapy includes the etiology of mental illness and substance abuse disorders, and the provision of the well-established treatments of cognitive-behavioral, interpersonal, and psychodynamic therapy. Counselors’ education and training is oriented toward the adoption of a truly clientcentered, and not primarily illnesscentered, approach to therapy.

What is a Licensed Associate Professional Counselor?

A Licensed Associagte Professional Counselor is a provisionally licensed professional counselor who has completed a master’s level counseling program, passed necessary national examinations, and is currently working toward full licensure by completing a designated amount of supervised clinical counseling hours. An LAPC in Georgia is working under the supervision of a Licensed Psychologist or an LPC who is also a Certified Professional Counselor Supervisor (CPSC). An LAPC works under supervision for a minimum of 3 years post-master's degree.