Code Section Group

Business and Professions Code - BPC

DIVISION 2. HEALING ARTS [500 - 4999.129]

  ( Division 2 enacted by Stats. 1937, Ch. 399. )

CHAPTER 16. Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors [4999.10 - 4999.129]

  ( Chapter 16 added by Stats. 2009, Ch. 619, Sec. 3. )

ARTICLE 2. Scope of Practice [4999.20 - 4999.24]
  ( Article 2 added by Stats. 2009, Ch. 619, Sec. 3. )


(a) (1) “Professional clinical counseling” means the application of counseling interventions and psychotherapeutic techniques to identify and remediate cognitive, mental, and emotional issues, including personal growth, adjustment to disability, crisis intervention, and psychosocial and environmental problems, and the use, application, and integration of the coursework and training required by Sections 4999.32 and 4999.33. “Professional clinical counseling” includes conducting assessments for the purpose of establishing counseling goals and objectives to empower individuals to deal adequately with life situations, reduce stress, experience growth, change behavior, and make well-informed, rational decisions.

(2) “Professional clinical counseling” is focused exclusively on the application of counseling interventions and psychotherapeutic techniques for the purposes of improving mental health, and is not intended to capture other, nonclinical forms of counseling for the purposes of licensure. For purposes of this paragraph, “nonclinical” means nonmental health.

(3) “Professional clinical counseling” does not include the assessment or treatment of couples or families unless the professional clinical counselor has completed all of the following training and education:

(A) One of the following:

(i) Six semester units or nine quarter units specifically focused on the theory and application of marriage and family therapy.

(ii) A named specialization or emphasis area on the qualifying degree in marriage and family therapy; marital and family therapy; marriage, family, and child counseling; or couple and family therapy.

(B) No less than 500 hours of documented supervised experience working directly with couples, families, or children.

(C) A minimum of six hours of continuing education specific to marriage and family therapy, completed in each license renewal cycle.

(4) “Professional clinical counseling” does not include the provision of clinical social work services.

(b) “Counseling interventions and psychotherapeutic techniques” means the application of cognitive, affective, verbal or nonverbal, systemic or holistic counseling strategies that include principles of development, wellness, and maladjustment that reflect a pluralistic society. These interventions and techniques are specifically implemented in the context of a professional clinical counseling relationship and use a variety of counseling theories and approaches.

(c) “Assessment” means selecting, administering, scoring, and interpreting tests, instruments, and other tools and methods designed to measure an individual’s attitudes, abilities, aptitudes, achievements, interests, personal characteristics, disabilities, and mental, emotional, and behavioral concerns and development and the use of methods and techniques for understanding human behavior in relation to coping with, adapting to, or ameliorating changing life situations, as part of the counseling process. “Assessment” shall not include the use of projective techniques in the assessment of personality, individually administered intelligence tests, neuropsychological testing, or utilization of a battery of three or more tests to determine the presence of psychosis, dementia, amnesia, cognitive impairment, or criminal behavior.

(d) Professional clinical counselors shall refer clients to other licensed health care professionals when they identify issues beyond their own scope of education, training, and experience.

(Amended by Stats. 2013, Ch. 465, Sec. 1. (SB 243) Effective January 1, 2014.)


(a) Nothing in this chapter shall prevent qualified persons from doing work of a psychosocial nature consistent with the standards and ethics of their respective professions. However, these qualified persons shall not hold themselves out to the public by any title or description of services incorporating the words “licensed professional clinical counselor” and shall not state that they are licensed to practice professional clinical counseling, unless they are otherwise licensed to provide professional clinical counseling services.

(b) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to constrict, limit, or withdraw provisions of the Medical Practice Act, the Clinical Social Worker Practice Act, the Nursing Practice Act, the Psychology Licensing Law, or the Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Act.

(c) This chapter shall not apply to any priest, rabbi, or minister of the gospel of any religious denomination who performs counseling services as part of their pastoral or professional duties, or to any person who is admitted to practice law in this state, or who is licensed to practice medicine, who provides counseling services as part of their professional practice.

(d) This chapter shall not apply to an unlicensed or unregistered employee or volunteer working in a governmental entity or a school, a college, a university, or an institution that is both nonprofit and charitable, if both of the following apply:

(1) The work of the employee or volunteer is performed solely under the supervision of the entity.

(2) On and after July 1, 2020, the employee or volunteer provides a client, prior to initiating psychotherapy services, a notice written in at least 12-point type that is in substantially the following form:


The (Name of office or unit) of the (Name of agency) receives and responds to complaints regarding the practice of psychotherapy by any unlicensed or unregistered counselor providing services at (Name of agency). To file a complaint, contact (Telephone number, email address, internet website, or mailing address of agency).

(e) All persons registered as associates or licensed under this chapter shall not be exempt from this chapter or the jurisdiction of the board.

(Amended by Stats. 2019, Ch. 229, Sec. 7. (AB 630) Effective January 1, 2020.)


Nothing in this chapter shall restrict or prevent activities of a psychotherapeutic or counseling nature on the part of persons employed by accredited or state-approved academic institutions, public schools, government agencies, or nonprofit institutions engaged in the training of graduate students or clinical counselor trainees pursuing a course of study leading to a degree that qualifies for professional clinical counselor licensure at an accredited or state-approved college or university, or working in a recognized training program, provided that these activities and services constitute a part of a supervised course of study and that those persons are designated by a title such as “clinical counselor trainee” or other title clearly indicating the training status appropriate to the level of training.

(Added by Stats. 2009, Ch. 619, Sec. 3. (SB 788) Effective January 1, 2010.)

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