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LU's Karani helps shed light on credential confusion

Lamar University’s Komal Karani, PhD., is one of four authors of an article that clarifies professional credentials of counselors and is the catalyst for change across the entire counseling community.

The “Journal of Counseling and Development,” the flagship publication of the American Counseling Association, has published the research of a collaborative research group which includes Karani, an associate professor in the College of Business, regarding the utilization of varying interstate counseling credentials.

The article, “Marketing of Professional Counselors: A Q‐Sort Study of Best Practices,” seeks to eliminate confusion caused by the many different professional certifications that exist within the profession. The group’s research revealed that although credentials in the field are very important, having so many different credentials was causing some confusion within the profession and among the public.

“The varying license titles from state to state has led to considerable confusion among the public who don’t know how to evaluate these credentials,” said Karani. “Simply put, counselors needed efficient and effective ways to market themselves.”

The research revealed that, rather than presenting credentials in the typical manner with abbreviations such as LCPC, MAC, LPC, NCC, or any other counseling certification abbreviations, prospective patients simply prefer to know if a counselor is ‘board certified.’ The paper recommends utilizing ‘board certified’ instead of varying acronyms representative of certifications and licensures.

“The article has been creating a lot of positive buzz in the counseling field and its recommendations have been accepted by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC),” said Karani. “Since the publication of the research, the NBCC has campaigned for counselors to use the words ‘board certified’ when describing their credentials to others.”

NBCC’s acceptance of the ‘board certified’ designation versus varying credentials has provided counselors not only a way to market their skills but a uniformed identifier to be used across the profession. NBCC has added digital badges on LinkedIn for board certified counselors to use.  The digital badges not only clearly tell clients the counselor’s credentials, but help counselors market themselves. More than 65,000 badges have been issued.

Read “Marketing of Professional Counselors: A Q‐Sort Study of Best Practices” for more information.