What is clinical mental health counseling?
Clinical mental health counseling is an umbrella term that describes the work of a licensed mental health counselor, namely: diagnosis, assessment, treatment planning, and various supports and interventions directed at individuals, couples and families, and small groups for the purpose of identifying and treating mental health disorders and disorders secondary to other problems, such as events involving grief and loss; poverty; physical pain, disability, or illness; involvement with the legal system; and substance use/addiction.
What is an LMHC? What do LMHCs do (or don’t do)?
LMHC stands for Licensed Mental Health Counselor. Licensure ensures that practitioners are trained in diagnosis, treatment planning, and intervention to the level required by government bodies and managed care organizations for independent mental health professionals.
LMHCs provide mental health interventions for primary mental illness, mental illness or duress secondary to physical illness or other biopsychosocial stressors, and relational problems between individuals and within groups. LMHCs are trained to work with individuals across the lifespan with a variety of diagnoses and in a variety of environments.
You can find LMHCs in private practice and group practice, hospitals, emergency units, residential facilities, crisis teams, and community outreach teams.
What does LMHC licensure entail? What is the difference between an unlicensed counselor and a licensed mental health counselor?
Mental health counselors have been licensed as independent practitioners in Massachusetts since 1987. In order to achieve LMHC licensure in Massachusetts, an LMHC will have graduated a 2-year 60-credit master’s degree at an accredited graduate program; passed the National Clinical Mental Health Counselors Examination (NCMHCE); and completed more than 4,000 hours of supervised clinical experience.
While it is legally possible for an individual to practice as an unlicensed counselor, there are no guarantees of education, clinical experience, or professionalism. This brings us to our next FAQ.
What should you look for in a mental health professional?
Always confirm that your mental health clinician has an active license in the state where you intend to receive treatment. Ask to view a copy of their license, or do a quick lookup using their license number:
How do I find a clinician?
Though many people start their search with an insurance directory, such lists are often out of date. Some well-maintained directories as of this writing include Psychology Today and Therapy Den, both of which serve independently licensed mental health professionals.
Continuing education, continuing education units
Code of Massachusetts Regulations
Licensed Mental Health Counselor
Massachusetts Mental Health Counselors Association
MaMHCA Continuing Education Approval Program
Massachusetts General Laws