The myth of the portable license

California’s new LPCC isn’t any more of a “national license” than the MFT license is: not at all. Why do rumors persist that it is?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Cloth SuitcaseHere in California, we’re currently in the middle of the grandparenting period for licensed MFTs and LCSWs who want the state’s new Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) license. One of the most common reasons I hear from MFTs for wanting the LPCC is the notion that it, unlike the MFT, is a “national license.”

Except it isn’t.

For clarity: An LPCC license is no more of a national license than an MFT license, which is to say, neither is a national license at all. Both are state licenses only. Both professions now have licensure laws in all of the 50 United States (and DC), but for both, the licensing laws from state to state differ. How portable your license is — that is, how easily you could get licensed in a new state once you move — depends on a number of factors, including which state you move to. (For more on this, see my earlier post on MFTs and license portability.) But neither license has true reciprocity, which is automatic recognition of another state’s license.

The only reason I know of that could explain the myth of a portable LPCC license is that California’s Board of Behavioral Sciences is recognizing the National Clinical Mental Health Counselor Exam for LPCCs, while for MFTs, we use state-based exams. Admittedly, that can make moving into or out of California with an MFT license slightly more challenging: If you move into California, even if you have been licensed elsewhere for decades, you will need to take California’s MFT licensing exams. And if you move out of California, even if you have been licensed here for decades, you will need to take the National MFT Exam (many states also require a state-based law and ethics exam) to get licensed in your new home state. But the BBS has already gotten legislative approval to restructure the MFT license exam process, and is working with the folks who develop the National MFT Exam to have that exam offered and recognized in California. So that difference between the professions will hopefully be vanishing in the not-too-distant future.

There are good reasons for some MFTs to pursue the California LPCC license. Unfortunately, the ones I hear most often from MFTs as their motivators are falsehoods, and this portability issue is a great example.

If you are interested in hearing more about the LPCC license (including debunking of more myths!), differences between the philosophies of MFT and LPCC, scopes of practice, legal and workplace recognition, and much, much more, please consider attending “The California LPCC,” a presentation I’m giving with Angela Kahn, MA. Angela has helped develop the LPCC curriculum for Antioch University in Los Angeles, and is going through the grandparenting process; I helped AAMFT-CA negotiate what became the LPCC licensing bill, and I’m probably not going to go through grandparenting. So we present an informed perspective from both sides of that question. We’re giving the talk at Antioch in LA this Saturday, November 19 (that one’s just for Antioch students, faculty and alumni, so contact the school for more info or to RSVP). We’re also giving the talk in San Diego on December 3. Use this link for more information or to register: The California LPCC, Dec. 3, San Diego.

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Your comments are always free to cross state lines. Offer them here, by email to ben[at]bencaldwell[dot]com, or through my easily-portable Twitter feed.