A patient smiles during a counseling session.

Understanding the Difference Between LPCC vs. MFT

Both a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) and a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT) are attracted to their professions because they have a strong sense of empathy and a desire to understand other people’s feelings and perspectives. They feel compassionate toward people’s struggles and are motivated to use their skills to help others improve their mental and emotional well-being. 

However, while the two careers tend to attract people with similar goals, they focus on different areas. LPCCs offer treatment and counseling to those with mental health and substance abuse issues. MFTs also provide counseling, but focusing more on families and individuals with social and relationship-based problems.

Many considering enrolling in a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy degree want to know the difference between LPCC and an MFT program. The following provides an overview of the two areas of behavioral and applied sciences. 

What Is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC)?

Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC) work with diverse clients, encompassing various demographics, ages, and issues. LPCCs are trained to work with patients on a wide range of conditions, including mental illness, emotional distress, substance abuse, personal trauma, psychological disorders, and social development disorders.

LPCCs conduct initial assessments to understand their clients’ concerns, symptoms, and life circumstances. They also provide one-on-one or group therapy sessions. The assessments created by LPCCs help diagnose mental health conditions and create treatment plans. These plans, updated as needed, outline goals and interventions tailored to each client’s unique situation.

LPCCs work in various locations, including hospitals, health centers, and government agencies. They make an annual median salary of $53,710, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also projects high demand for LPCC over the next decade, with more than 42,000 job openings nationwide yearly.

What Is a Marriage and Family Therapist (MFT)?

Much like LPCCs, Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) also focus on mental health issues, but within the context of marriage, couples, and family relationships. MFTs use a variety of therapeutic techniques and interventions to address a wide range of relationship challenges and psychological problems. The dynamics of relationships are central to the therapy process.

MFTs help people with a variety of situations. One of the most common challenges is marital and relationship conflicts. MFTs help couples navigate disagreements, intimacy, trust, and communication issues. They also assist parents in developing effective parenting strategies, managing child and adolescent behavior, and navigating the complexities of blended families. Other common problems include adjustments to major life transitions (such as moves, job changes, births, and deaths), infidelity and trust Issues, and divorce and separation.

MFTs work in similar settings to other mental health professionals, including hospitals, private practice, and government agencies. The BLS reports a median annual salary nationwide for an MFT is $58,510. The federal agency also forecasts high demand for MFTs over the next decade, with a projected 5,900 yearly openings.

LPCC vs. MFT Education Requirements

Becoming a LPCC or MFT requires a master’s degree, completing a minimum of 3,000 hours of post-degree supervised clinical experience, and passing the National Counselor Examination. Graduates must also earn licensure in the state where they wish to practice.

Students in the Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy program at Touro University Worldwide can choose their academic pathway. They select between three tracks in the program: a non-clinical MFT track or clinical tracks leading to licensure as a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) or Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC).

Possible career designations include Marriage and Family Therapist, Couples Therapist, Family Therapist, Child and Adolescent Therapist, Addiction Counselor, Clinical Supervisor, and Community Mental Health Counselor. The TUW curriculum trains students to be skillful, ethical, culturally aware, and systems-focused therapists, proficient in evaluating, diagnosing, and treating a varied client base of individuals, couples, and families.

The curriculum is rooted in the scientist-practitioner model, preparing students to contribute distinctively to marriage and family therapy. Additionally, some program alumni pursue further education, earning a Doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy.

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