Should Licensed Professional Counselors be Avoided ?
Dear Breast Cancer Community:
I am a 10 year survivor of breast cancer. I am also a Licensed Professional Counselor with over 20 years experience. As with all Licensed Professional Counselors/Mental Health Counselors, I am credentialed (licensed) by my state. My professional education, training, and experience are at least equal to that of other master's level clinicians who specialize in working with cancer patients.
I was horrified when I read the recent article: "Mental Health Care Options for People With Metastatic Breast Cancer" . Written by Cheryl Alkon quoting Shulman:
Who to avoid
Patients should be cautious about consulting someone who calls themselves a counselor or coach who may have limited expertise and perhaps earned a certificate in a brief training experience, according to Shulman. "To be sure of a fully credentialed psychotherapist, it is important to seek out a licensed psychologist or licensed social worker who will have met state requirements for professional education and experience," she says.
Using the word "counselors" is misleading and confusing. Coaches are not licensed, and anyone can call themselves a coach. This is not true for Licensed Professional Counselors who must have Master's degrees in Counseling or Mental Health, pass a national exam and complete four years of supervised practice to be licensed. But to your point, working with cancer patients requires specialized education and training. Not to mention, that it is unethical for all licensed clinicians to practice outside their level of expertise whatever license they hold.