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Tiered Licensure in Pennsylvania

Tiered Licensure in Pennsylvania

In a world where the need for mental health services is at an all-time high, and the supply of licensed mental health professionals is too low to meet the need, there is something that can help: Tiered Licensure in Pennsylvania.

What does it take?

Currently, to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) in Pennsylvania, you must:

  1. complete a Master’s degree in a counseling field from an accredited educational institution,
  2. graduate and afterward complete 3,000 hours of supervised clinical experience in no less than two years and
  3. pass a test before you can even apply for the LPC licensure.

Why Tiered Licensure Legislation Matters

Tied Licensure Legislation would establish a provisional license allowing qualified graduates to test and apply for licensure immediately after graduation. This would permit these professionals to hold a lower level of license, allowing them to practice as Licensed Associate Professional Counselors (LAPC) while concurrently receiving the supervision required for the full LPC license.

Who’s advocating for this change?

A great deal of advocacy efforts are currently underway to establish this as soon as possible to try to meet the growing mental health needs of our communities. In December 2023, the Pennsylvania House of Representative’s Professional Licensure Committee unanimously voted the bill (HB 1564) out of committee and onto the House floor. The Pennsylvania Senate’s Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee will soon vote on their bill version (SB1019).

The fact is, many other states already have such provisional or tiered licensure. Even within Pennsylvania, similar licenses have this structure. Social Workers, for example, can take a test after graduation with a master’s degree and receive a license as a Licensed Social Worker (LSW). As an LSW, they can work as a therapist while receiving the clinical experience and supervision they need for full licensure as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).

Note that in Pennsylvania, LCSWs and LPCs are licensed through the same state board.

How can you help?

As mental health needs continue to trend upward in both Pennsylvania and the United States as a whole, we would welcome and encourage support for this Tiered Licensure in Pennsylvania legislation to be passed. To find out how to get involved, please see our advocacy page.

Thank you for visiting my blog and learning about Tiered Licensure in Pennsylvania.

Blog by Valerie McNicholl, LCSW, Chief Operating Officer at Move Forward Counseling, LLC.

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