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:
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