How Beliefs Become Deeds: Our Mission & Story

The History of An Association Whose Vision to Be Recognized as Equal Became an Advocacy Mission of Persistence and Perseverance

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 the many unmet professional 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 wide variety of settings.

The first LPCANC 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. Initially, LPCANC was incorporated as a "Not-for-Profit". Subsequently, LPCANC was "re" incorporated as a Non-Profit Professional Membership Corporation on July 12, 2005 and received IRS Non-Profit 501(c)6 status on August 31, 2005. 

Our LPCANC logo since 2014

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 organizations (MCO) arrived late in 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 array of behavioral healthcare providers.  Employability of LPCs and gaining parity with the other mental health care providers (who were already recognized by MCOs) 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 NC Office of State Personnel classification for LPCs, 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 marketing LPCs with MCOs.  

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 were undertaken 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.

LPCANC has been the only professional association to engage in ongoing advocacy initiatives and efforts on behalf of licensed counselors. We are proud of this history and the story behind it. Our mission calls us to continue to advocate for the licensed clinical mental health counseling profession and those we serve. For more information on the LPCANC history, please
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Advocacy History

LPCANC Advocacy History Highlights

2018 - LPCANC targeted the inclusion of LPC to provide Involuntary Commitment Evaluations since 2004. With persistent and targeted LPCANC advocacy, SB 630 Revise IVC Laws to Improve Behavioral Health finally added LPCs and became law. This legislation addition of  LPCs  is an important milestone as it added LPC providers as eligible to conduct first evaluations for involuntary commitment in North Carolina. 

2015 - LPCANC successfully lobbies for legislation, SB 279, Amend the Professional Counselors Act, upgrading licensure requirements to ensure uniform training standards in graduate counselor education (to include 60 hr. counseling degrees from CACREP programs on or after July 1, 2022). 

2012 - LPCANC lobbies for LPCA’s to be considered Licensed Providers (LPs) under NC Division of Human Services. LPCAs now gain the ability to become direct-enrolled Medicaid providers (while under supervision). In 2012, LPCANC successfully lobbied in coalition with other professional associations to include LPCAs as Medicaid behavioral healthcare providers allowing LPCAs employment opportunities while gaining post-graduate clinically supervised practice hours.

2010 - The NC Department of Insurance issues a statement confirming LPCAs as fully qualified to be third party reimbursable while under supervision.

2010 - LPCANC 10 year history of advocacy with the North Carolina Office of State Personnel ends with successful culmination. NC OSP finally adds permanent job classifications series specifically designated for LPCs: 04162 Licensed Professional Counselor and 04171 Licensed Professional Counselor Specialist. Previously, despite strenuous advocacy efforts dating back to 2001, the LPC job classifications were considered "draft" and LPC's were not officially recognized within the North Carolina Office of State Personnel system. LPCs were often employed within the Human Service Clinical Counselor series.

2009 - LPCANC sponsors legislation to additional new licensure categories - LPC-Associate and LPC-Supervisor. LPCANC, after consultation with NCBLPC, worked tirelessly to improve the original 2009 LPC legislation: An Act to Amend the Licensed Professional Counselor Act which converted the terminology of Board Eligible LPC to an official license known as the Licensed Professional Counselor Associate (LPC-A) and adds a supervisor credential of LPC-S. 

2008 - LPCANC hires full-time Lobbyist dedicated solely to advocacy efforts on behalf of LPCs and LPCANC: Ashley Matlock Perkinson, Attorney at Law.

2007- HB 973 Mental Health Equitable Coverage (NC Parity Bill) sponsored by Rep. Martha Alexander. LPCANC lobbied in coalition with the Professional Association Council for HB 973, which became law. HB 973, now NC law requires equitable coverage in mental health with physical illnesses.

2006 – LPC Board Eligible status became recognized on par with provisional licensure of other behavioral healthcare licenses.

2006 - LPCANC advocacy successfully enables LPCs to be placed and recognized as State level licensed behavioral healthcare providers within the array of NC Medicaid Enhanced Service Definitions.

2005 – LPCANC advocates successfully with NCBLPC to require an ethics CEU requirement for license renewal. In December 2005, NCBLPC agreed to LPCANC advocacy efforts to require a 3-hour minimum CEU in Professional Ethics for licensure renewal.

2004 – LPCs are now eligible for NC Medicaid Direct enrolled provider status. LPCANC’s tireless effort to obtain Medicaid direct-enrollment for North Carolina's LPCs is finally a great success. Advocacy works! 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.

2003 – LPCANC successfully advocates for LPC’s ability to direct bill Medicaid CPT codes. Advocacy results in LPC’s now eligible to bill Medicaid CPT procedure codes for outpatient therapy services.  Previous to 2003, LPCs were not direct-enrolled providers with the Division of Medical Assistance (DMA) and could not bill directly for Medicaid or HealthChoice. Previously, LPCs were required to contract with local area mental health centers to bill services and receive reimbursement.

2003 - Successful LPCANC advocacy efforts result in IBM agreement to include LPCs on provider panels under its health plans, beginning in 2004.

2001- LPCANC successfully lobbies for LPCANC sponsored legislation HB 593: Mandatory Insurance Reimbursement which requires 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.

2001- LPCANC advocacy yields N.C. Budget Provision which gives LPCs ability to bill using CPT codes through contract with area mental health programs.

2001 - After many months of steadfast LPCANC advocacy, Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NC adds LPCs to their NC insurance panels.

1997 – Legislation, S.B. 597 An Amendment to the Professional Corporations Actis successfully sponsored by LPCANC. By grassroots advocacy and a part-time lobbyist, LPCs are added to the Professional Corporations Act allowing LPCs to legally incorporate into a collaborative practice with other licensed healthcare professionals.

Historical Contributions By:

Suzanne L. Walker, President, 2006-2007; 2012-2013; 2020-2021
Marilyn Wolf, President, 2002-2003
Jim Gibson, President 2000-2001
Bridget Atchley, Co-Founder LPCANC & Past President 1995-1998