Who are professional counselors?

Licensed professional counselors provide quality mental health and substance abuse care to millions of Americans. Professional counselors have a master’s or doctoral degree in counseling or a related field which included an internship and coursework in human behavior and development, effective counseling strategies, ethical practice, and other core knowledge areas.

Over 80,000 professional counselors are licensed in 48 states as well as the District of Columbia. State licensure typically requires a master’s or doctoral degree, two to three years of supervised clinical experience, and the passage of an examination. In states without licensure or certification laws, professional counselors are certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). Participation in continuing education is often required for the renewal of a license or certification.

Professional counselors adhere to a code of ethics that protects the confidentiality of the counseling relationship; prohibits discrimination and requires the understanding of and respect for diverse cultural backgrounds; and mandates that professional counselors put the needs and welfare of clients before all others in their practice.