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Prior to 1994, licensure for professional counseling did not exist in North Carolina. The initial Licensed Professional Counselors Act (LPC Act) ratified July 24, 1993, became effective July 1, 1994.  With passage, the LPC Act granted NC LPCs the opportunity to gain recognition in the mental health field in North Carolina amongst the ranks of independently licensed behavioral healthcare providers. 

The origins of LPCANC date back to many unmet needs of LPCs. Before 1995, advocacy for LPCs occurred sporadically, if at all. LPC clinical continuing education needs were not sufficiently addressed, often competing with other counseling education agendas. Then and now, the North Carolina Counseling Association (NCCA) did not have a distinct division dedicated to Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs). 

In the fall of 1995, four LPCs met at a coffee house in Raleigh, North Carolina to discuss NC LPC professional interests.  The 1995 establishment of the Licensed Professional Counselors Association of North Carolina (LPCANC) was founded to advance and address the needs of Licensed Professional Counselors working in a variety of settings. LPCANC first board of directors of LPCANC:  President, Bridget Shelley Atchley; Vice President, Denny Cecil; Secretary, Kathryn Glenn; and Treasurer, DJ Pappas. Early 1996, Jim Gibson joined as LPCANC newsletter (Professional Ties) editor; Jeff Pearce as Membership Chair; and Karen Elliott, Clara Atchley, and Michael Wells as Members-at-Large. Fundamental core values remain the same true values upon which established LPCANC. Broad and inclusive membership, advocacy, communication among LPCs, and professional development were the founding core values and continue as the mission and top goals of the association.

Starting a new professional association was not easy.  Many volunteer hours, a shared vision and mission combined with resolve and dedication helped establish LPCANC.  From the beginning through today, the commitment of personal time and resources coupled with an unrelenting passion for professional counseling, helped found and direct the only association in North Carolina dedicated the needs of LPCs.

LEGISLATION AND PROFESSIONAL ISSUES

The pace at which LPCANC grew matched the increasing need for advocacy for LPCs within the national mental health care arena in the mid 1990s.  Managed care was late coming to North Carolina although MCOs were prevalent in the western and northeastern United States.  However, as managed care assumed its market share, LPCs were not being included in the provider mix.  Employability of LPCs and gaining parity with the other mental health care providers who were recognized by MCOs at that time became a top priority for the association.  The early board members of LPCANC addressed this goal by contacting all the mental health centers across the state to request personnel classification for LPCs, by hiring a lobbyist to monitor legislation such as the NC Professional Corporations Act that directly impacted the ability of LPCs to become partners in collaborative practices, and by marketing LPCs with managed care companies.  

From 1995 through today, LPCANC delivers its promise to advocate for the needs of LPCs. Take a quick look at our LPCANC accomplishments. These endeavors undertook by LPCANC involving many volunteer hours and significant advocacy costs (lobbyist). The volunteer time and costs were borne solely by LPCANC and no other professional association in NC. We are proud of our work and the benefits to all North Carolina LPCs. Highlights of our most prestigious LPCANC efforts:

  1. 2012 - Addition of LPCAs as Medicaid providers. In 2012, LPCANC successfully lobbied in cohort with other professional associations to include LPCAs as Medicaid behavioral healthcare providers allowing LPCAs employment opportunities while gaining post-graduate clinically supervised practice hours.
  2. 2001- present - Ongoing advocacy for NC LPCs to protect scope of practice and ensure key legislators and policy makers were well informed of LPCs professional qualifications. 
  3. 2010 - The NC Department of Insurance issues a statement confirming LPCAs as fully qualified to be third party reimbursable while under supervision
  4. 2010 - North Carolina Office of State Personnel added permanent job classifications series specifically designated for LPCs: 04162 Licensed Professional Counselor and 04171 Licensed Professional Counselor Specialist.
  5. 2009 - “An Act to Amend the License Professional Counselor Act” changed Board eligible LPC to Licensed Professional Counselor Associate (LPCA) and added the supervisor credential of LPC-S. LPCANC, after consultation with NBCLPC, worked tirelessly to improve the original LPC Act.
  6. 2008 - Hired LPCANC Lobbyist: LPCANC hires a full-time lobbyist dedicated solely to advocacy efforts on behalf of LPCs and LPCANC: Ashley Matlock Perkinson, Attorney at Law.
  7. 2007- HB 973 Mental Health Equitable Coverage (NC Parity Bill) sponsored by Rep. Martha Alexander. LPCANC lobbied in coalition with Professional Association Council for HB 973, which became law. HB 973, now NC law requires equitable coverage in mental health with physical illnesses.
  8. 2006 – “Board Eligible” status became recognized on par with provisional licensure. LPCANC advocacy enabled State level recognition within NC Medicaid Enhanced Service Definitions.
  9. 2005 – LPCANC advocated with NCBLPC for ethics CEU requirement. December 2005, LPCANC advocated requiring a 3-hour minimum CEU in Ethics.
  10. 2004 – LPCANC’s tireless pursuit to obtain direct-enrollment for LPCs pays off. NC Medicaid Direct enrolled provider status. LPCANC advocated tirelessly to obtain direct enrolled provider status for NC LPCs. Direct enrollment of LPCs as Medicaid providers became effective February 1, 2005. Prior to 2005, LPC were required to bill Medicaid through local area mental health centers for reimbursement.
  11. 2003 – Medicaid CPT codes - LPC's became eligible to bill Medicaid CPT procedure codes for outpatient therapy services. LPCs were not direct-enrolled providers with the Division of Medical Assistance (DMA) and therefore were required to contract with local mental health centers in order to bill services and receive reimbursement. In addition, following LPCANC advocacy efforts, IBM agrees to include LPCs on provider panels under its health plans, beginning in 2004.
  12. 2001- LPCANC sponsored legislation HB 593: Mandatory Insurance Reimbursement successful passage required all indemnity insurers who provide mental health insurance benefits to employees in North Carolina to reimburse a Licensed Professional Counselor for services rendered. This legislation became the "great equalizer" for LPCs in private practice and influenced other mental health plans to follow suit with the industry standard and recognize LPC’s for reimbursement.
  13. 2001- LPCANC advocacy yields N.C. Budget Provision included LPCs ability to bill CPT codes. As well, after many months of steadfast LPCANC advocacy, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NC added LPCs to their NC panels.
  14. 1997 –Sponsored by LPCANC, S.B. 597 Amendment to the Professional Corporations Act, LPCs were added to the Professional Corporations Act allowing LPCs to legally incorporate into a collaborative practice with other licensed healthcare professionals.

By

Suzanne L. Walker, President, 2006-2007; 2012-2013

Marilyn Wolf, President, 2002-2003

Jim Gibson, President 2000-2001

Bridget Atchley, Co-Founder LPCANC & Past President 1995-1998

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