Studying for counselor licensing exams

Matthew Henry / Burst / Used under licenseLicensing exams are a major milestone in the development of a professional counselor (specific license titles vary, but LPC, LPCC, and LMHC are common). While there are differences from state to state, most states use one or both of the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam and National Counselor Exam, and most states require that the exam be taken at the completion of at least two years of full-time, post-masters experience in supervised practice. As you approach completion of the experience necessary to take counselor licensing exams, how can you best prepare? Here are five things that can help:

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The therapist friend

Burst / Used under licenseTherapists and counselors are a community’s experts in relationships. It only makes sense that our occupation impacts our personal relationships. With our friends, we often aren’t just their friend who happens to be a therapist. We’re their therapist friend.

Being the therapist friend affects how our loved ones respond to us. In most situations, our opinions are respected. In some, we can get written off as arrogant — something that typically doesn’t happen to, say, plumbers who speak confidently about how plumbing works.

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I’ve got beef with the Talking Therapy podcast guys

Talking Therapy podcastA couple of years ago, I appeared on an episode of the Talking Therapy podcast. I love the show. RJ Thomas and John Webber are good guys and good hosts, and I’ve thought that since before they invited me on. Their show is rightly popular. They’ve even featured one of the world’s most prominent therapists: Dr. Susan Johnson.

Johnson developed Emotionally Focused Therapy, which I use in my own practice with distressed couples. As you can imagine, a lot of her interview focused on couples and couple therapy. Almost as an aside, early in the interview, Webber noted that half of US marriages end in divorce. That’s flat wrong.

So I went back on the show to yell at him about it.

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On being the therapist in your family

Nicole De Khors / Burst / Used under licenseIf you didn’t know this about me, I’m a white woman. Most psychotherapists are white women. (See the demographics of psychologists as an example.) When I sat down to write about how families respond when a family member starts down the road to becoming a therapist, I knew that culture and family background would have a lot to do with it. So instead of just focusing on my own experience, I decided to also interview some of my colleagues, to see what it was like being the therapist in their families. The differences surprised me.

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Therapy Reimagined: A different kind of conference

This Friday and Saturday, I will be presenting at the Therapy Reimagined conference in Los Angeles. It’s a different kind of conference from any I’ve spoken at before, and I can’t wait. You should be there.

Different by design

Academic and professional conferences tend to focus on research and clinical application. Those are obviously critically important for keeping your practice up to date. But those conferences don’t tend to talk broadly about what it means to work in mental health. In other words, most conferences are more about doing therapy, and less about being a therapist.

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