What is the first step to becoming a certified counselor?
When becoming a licensed and certified counselor to be allowed to practice within your state, the first step will be finishing your required education. Generally, this translates to earning your Master of Science in Counseling Psychology. However, some may choose to earn their Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology as a different alternative for those wishing to become counseling psychologists.
After completing the educational requirements for your license, your degree will provide you with the skills, knowledge, tools and framework necessary to be successful in your career.
Certification for Counseling
This option has two separate credentials available. There is the NCC or National Certified Counselor designation where you will have to complete the National Counselor Examination.
Clinical Mental Health Counselor
Clinical Mental Health Counselor is another path to consider. To earn your credentials as a Clinical Mental Health Counselor you will have to complete the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examinations.
These exams are administered and offered twice a year, typically in the fall and in the spring. To receive and apply for state licensure, you generally must demonstrate that you have passed your exam and earned your certification.
Many people think of "board certification," when they hear the phrase "counseling certification." Generally, being board-certified means that you have demonstrated the ability to master the skills, practices, knowledge and frameworks of a specific governing body. The main certification hub focusing on mental health counselors is the National Board for Certified Counselors.
Additional Specialty Counseling Certifications Offered
Along with the two certifications mentioned above, there are other specific programs offered by the NBCC to deliver specialty counseling certifications. These are great options to explore. These designations enable counselors to showcase their expertise in working with a certain patient population. They also signify being able to address a certain condition or specific issue.
Master Addictions Counselor
The MAC or Master Addictions Counselor certification indicates that they are specialized in addiction counseling. People who hold this credential can also hold the title of SAP or Substance Abuse Professional offered through the U.S. Department of Transportation.
There are specific certifications required for a counselor to earn their MAC certification including the following:
- There must be at least twelve hours of graduate coursework completed in addiction counseling. There is an option to contribute 500 hours of contributing education hours to meet the requirement.
- A minimum of 3 years of supervised experience as an addictions counselor needs to be completed. This needs to be conducted over at least twenty hours each week.
Lastly, the EMAC or Examination for Master Addictions Counselors must be passed. The full details of this requirement are found below.
Requirements for NCSC or National Certified School Counselor
The National Certified School Counselor enables counselors to utilize the NCSC credentials. This designation showcases the proficiency of a counselor in mental health issues unique to students in a school counseling setting. To be qualified as an NCSC, a counselor needs to complete the following listed below:
- Finish courses in a minimum of 3 of the following content areas: violence and abuse, trauma counseling, addictions counseling, program development and counseling consultation, and counseling at-risk youth, adolescents and children.
- They must obtain their NCC or National Certified Counselor certification.
- Finish all supervised in-school commitments.
- Receive professional endorsement.
The complete endorsement requirements are found below:
Titles and State Licensure
Note that certification and state licensure is different; however, many individuals talk about licensure and certification simultaneously. Generally, when you obtain your license, you are required to earn specific certifications relevant from the board.
Also know that these titles and licensure may significantly differ in each state, even if the job is similar. Be sure to double-check with the licensing board in your state to see what the licensing requirements consist of. Some of the titles available include:
- LPCC or Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor of Mental Health
- LMHC or Licensed Mental Health Counselor
- LMHP or Licensed Mental Health Practitioner
- LCMHC or Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor
- LPC or Licensed Professional Counselor
- LCMC or Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor
These fulfilling career options can help you make a positive impact in people’s lives of all ages. It is never too late to go back to school or to have a rewarding career.