Alaska offers a professional counseling license that is not specific to one counseling discipline; rehabilitation counselors are eligible for the credential. Candidates must meet education and examination requirements set by the Board of Professional Counselors.
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A prospective licensee must complete a master's degree in counseling or a related educational field; 'related field' could include social work, psychology, or applied behavioral science.
The student will need a total of 60 semester hours of graduate coursework, but some coursework may be taken subsequent to the master's degree. The licensing agency notes that additional hours can be pursued online or in-person.
The counseling program can be accepted if it is accredited, at the time of graduation, by one of the accrediting agencies listed in state administrative code (http://commerce.state.ak.us/dnn/Portals/5/pub/CounselorStatutes.pdf). Alaska accepts accreditation by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or accreditation by any of the following six regional accrediting agencies:
A program that is housed in a higher education institution but does not hold one of the approved accreditations may be accepted provided that coursework requirements are met. The student will need coursework in eight of ten Board-identified content areas:
International education can be accepted if it is comparable to education received in an accredited U.S. program. It must include the coursework listed above.
Alaska will accept multiple licensing examinations; candidates may have the option of taking an examination specific to rehabilitation counseling.
Alaska administrative code states that counselors can be licensed on the basis of the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification (NCE), the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE), or some other national examination that is judged equivalent (http://commerce.state.ak.us/dnn/cbpl/ProfessionalLicensing/ProfessionalCounselors/Examination.aspx). The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CRCC) reports that by departmental policy, the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) examination is accepted in Alaska (http://www.crccertification.com/pages/state_licensure_boards/228.php).
CRC candidates must meet eligibility requirements set by the certification commission (http://www.crccertification.com/pages/aboutcertification/46.php); these are significantly different than those of Alaska. A master’s level counselor who does not have experience in the rehabilitation field is not eligible unless he or she has graduated from, or is nearing completion of, a program accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE). By meeting eligibility requirements and performing successfully on the examination, a candidate becomes eligible for an additional voluntary credential, Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. There is a $385 application fee. The CRC examination is available during three annual testing windows.
The NCE is a generalist counseling examination offered by the National Board for Certified Counselors. An Alaska candidate is permitted to register directly; the registration form can be downloaded from the ‘Alaska’ page of the NBCC website (http://www.nbcc.org/stateboardmap//AK). The candidate will need to submit an official transcript as well as a $275 fee. Approval grants a six month eligibility window. Examinations are administered at Pearson Vue computerized assessment centers. There is one testing center in Alaska, located in Anchorage. Candidates can also schedule at authorized assessment centers located in other states. They must wait for eligibility confirmation before scheduling. The Alaska Board of Professional Counselors will receive NCE results directly from the testing company.
The prospective counselor will need to work under supervision for a minimum of two years and accrue a minimum of 3,000 hours of post-graduate experience. The experience must include at least 1,000 hours of direct counseling.
The practitioner is to have 100 hours of face-to-face supervised experience under an approved supervisor. However, an individual who is practicing in a remote location may submit a request to use electronic or telephonic supervision in place of face-to-face supervision. At least 50 of the supervision hours are to be individual. The licensing agency has provided a list of approved supervisors (http://commerce.state.ak.us/dnn/cbpl/ProfessionalLicensing/ProfessionalCounselors/Supervision.aspx).
Applications can be downloaded from the website of the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development (http://commerce.state.ak.us/dnn/cbpl/ProfessionalLicensing/ProfessionalCounselors/ApplicationsForms.aspx).
Certified transcripts are to be sent directly from the school to the licensing agency. Applicants who hold degrees in related fields or degrees that do not hold an approved accreditation will need to submit additional documentation; there is an educational worksheet included in the application packet.
Applicants must obtain criminal history record checks from the Department of Public Safety. The application packet includes a list of locations. Applicants who hold primary residency in another state will need to obtain a record check from that state.
Those who answer “yes” to criminal history questions will furnish supporting documentation.
The applicant will need to submit a $125 nonrefundable application fee. The $400 initial licensing fee can be submitted at the same time. The application form requires notarization.
Depending on Board meeting schedule, the licensing process could take over three months. Prospective applicants may contact the division to learn meeting dates.
Applicants must submit license verification from each state where they have held licensing.
A professional counselor can be licensed by credential if he or she is licensed in good standing in another jurisdiction that has requirements that meet or exceed those of Alaska. If the other state requires fewer than 60 semester hours of coursework, the applicant will need to document 60 semester hours.
A professional applying for license by credential will need to provide a criminal history report from the other state; this is the case even if he or she has lived in Alaska for more than a year.
The Alaska Board of Professional Counselors (http://commerce.state.ak.us/dnn/cbpl/ProfessionalLicensing/ProfessionalCounselors.aspx) is under the banner of the Division of Corporations, Business and Professional Licensing. The Licensing Examiner can be reached by telephone at (907) 465-2694.