MFT Licensure Options

Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) vs. Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT)

Do you know the difference between a licensed professional clinical counselor (LPCC) and a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT)? Explore the similarities and differences between these two licenses, including licensure requirements in California and how Pepperdine University’s Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology with an Emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program will prepare you to pursue licensure in your desired area of interest.

You can also learn more about LMFT or LPCC licensure requirements in your state by visiting your state’s licensing board.

What Does an LPCC Do?

LPCCs in California (or known in some states as licensed professional counselors or licensed mental health counselors) are trained to provide mental health and substance abuse care to individuals, families, and groups.

These professional counselors are responsible for a wide range of services including:

  • Diagnosis and treatment of mental, emotional, and addictive disorders.
  • Psychoeducational techniques aimed at the prevention of such disorders.
  • Consultation to individuals, couples, families, groups, and organizations.
  • Research into more effective therapeutic treatment modalities.

Visit your state’s licensing board to learn about its licensing terminology for LPCCs, so you can ensure you’re applying for the appropriate license.

What Does an LMFT Do?

LMFTs are trained to focus on issues that stem from marriage and family relationships as well as interpersonal skills, communication, and group dynamics. They help their clients by identifying problems in past and present relationships while offering strategies for solutions.

Licensed therapists help resolve the following issues and more:

  • Depression
  • Parent-child conflicts
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Family consequences of substance abuse

How to Become an LPCC or an LMFT in California

Below is a general guide for obtaining LPCC or LMFT licensure, if you are interested in practicing in California. The requirements are similar for both licenses. The only differences are what you register as (see step 2) and which licensure exam you take (see step 8):

  1. Earn a master’s in MFT by completing the academic and fieldwork requirements of the school’s program. Learn more about Pepperdine’s online MFT program.
  2. Register as an Associate Professional Clinical Counselor (APCC) for LPCC licensure or as an Associate Marriage and Family Therapist (AMFT) for LMFT licensure to start accruing additional postgraduate hours.
  3. Use a Live Scan site to submit your fingerprints electronically and pay the Department of Justice processing fee and Federal Bureau of Investigation processing fee.
  4. Pass the criminal background check.
  5. Take and pass the California Law and Ethics Exam.
  6. Accrue 3,000 hours of supervised experience over a minimum of 104 weeks. After completing your postgraduate hours, submit a record of your hours with the application.
  7. Complete the Application for Licensure and Examination.
  8. Take and pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination for LPCC licensure or the Clinical Exam for LMFT licensure. After passing the exam, you can obtain your official LPCC or LMFT license.

The guidelines above provide general information, so visit California’s Board of Behavioral Sciences to read about additional requirements.

Requirements for licensure vary by state. If you do not live in California, and would like to pursue licensure as an LMFT or LPCC, contact your state’s licensing board to learn more about the requirements for obtaining a therapist license.

Pepperdine University’s Online Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy

Through Psychology@Pepperdine, the online master’s programs from Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology, we offer a values-based MFT program online that helps you meet requirements for LPCC and LMFT licensure in California and other states.

The online MFT program features an intensive curriculum, including interactive course work and online classes taught by Pepperdine faculty. You will also complete in-person clinical training at sites near your community, enabling you to observe licensed professionals and gain experience working directly with clients.

Psychology@Pepperdine offers multiple start dates per year. If you submit your application by the priority deadline, we will waive your $55 application fee.

Learn more about Pepperdine’s online MFT program.