Sharon L Ward, MS, LPC, NCC
What is professional counseling?
Professional counselors work with individuals, families, groups and organizations. Counseling is a collaborative effort between the counselor and client. Professional counselors help clients identify goals and potential solutions to problems which cause emotional turmoil; seek to improve communication and coping skills; strengthen self-esteem; and promote behavior change and optimal mental health. Through counseling you examine the behaviors, thoughts and feelings that are causing difficulties in your life. You learn effective ways to deal with your problems by building upon personal strengths. A professional counselor will encourage your personal growth and development in ways that foster your interest and welfare.
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.
In Texas, state licensure requires a master's degree, two to three years of supervised clinical experience, and passing an examination. In some states, professional counselors are certified by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). Participation in continuing education is 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. This code prohibits discrimination and requires 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.