Arizona rehabilitation counselors may be licensed by the Arizona Board of Behavioral Counselors as Licensed Associate Counselors (LACs) or Licensed Professional Counselors (LPCs). These licenses are not specific to rehabilitation counseling but may be held by counselors with other specialties.
Counselors hold state licensing unless they fall under exemption categories described in Article 3 of state statute (http://www.azbbhe.us/pdfs/statute%202010.pdf).
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In order to be eligible for licensure at the LAC or LPC level, a student must graduate from a program that 1) is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) or the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) or 2) is housed in a regionally accredited institution (http://www.azbbhe.us/pdfs/Article%205.pdf).
If the program does not hold CACREP or CORE accreditation, the graduate will need to document coursework in 14 required areas:
The practicum or internship experience is to be at least 600 hours. The student is to have at least 100 hours of pre-practicum. However, the pre-practicum requirement can also be satisfied by an additional 300 hours of supervised field experience at the internship level. A full description of required content is found in the application packet as well as in Board rule.
The total program must be at least 60 semester credits or 80 quarter credits. The Board has identified creditable areas for elective coursework. Rehabilitation counseling is among them. A counselor who completed a CORE- or CACREP-accredited program of less than 60 semester hours may complete additional coursework through a regionally accredited institution.
Some programs hold clinical rehabilitation counseling accreditation offered through partnership between CACREP and CORE; these programs will include at least the minimum 60 semester hours (http://www.cacrep.org/news-and-events/cacrepcore-updates).
The Arizona Board will accept examinations offered by either of two organizations, the National Board for Certified Counselors or the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification.
The Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification offers the Certified Rehabilitation (CRC), an examination designed specifically for rehabilitation counselors. Individuals who attend CORE-accredited programs and complete 600-hour internships may sit for the examination before or after graduation. In order to be eligible, a student must have completed at least 75% of the program by the qualifying date. Individuals who complete master's level programs that are not CORE-accredited are eligible to sit for the examination only after they have accrued work experience in the rehabilitation field (http://www.crccertification.com/pages/eligibility_requirements/69.php). The examination is currently offered three times a year. A counselor who completes the process will become a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, or CRC. The CRC certification process costs $385. An applicant who is determined to be ineligible for examination will have $200 refunded.
The National Board for Certified Counselors offers a general counseling examination, the National Counseling Examination, or NCE. Arizona candidates are advised not to submit application materials to the NBCC until they have state approval. A $200 fee will be due to the NBCC at the time of application. The NBCC has provided a state-specific insert (http://www.nbcc.org/stateboardmap//AZ). Once eligibility has been confirmed, the candidate can register through Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP). Examinations are offered at AMP computerized assessment centers during monthly testing windows.
An individual who applies for Arizona licensure within 12 months of graduation may be issued a temporary license provided all requirements have been met with the exception of examination.
In order to progress to LPC licensing, the counselor must provide psychotherapy under supervision. Psychotherapy includes a range of activities and may be carried out for the purpose of treatment, assessment, or diagnosis (http://www.azbbhe.us/node/5%20).
An associate counselor must accrue 3,200 hours of experience. A counselor who performs other activities such as case management cannot credit those hours; the Board will accept only those hours related to psychotherapy. Indirect psychotherapy hours (documentation, supervision, and training) may be credited. However, the counselor must accrue at least 1,600 hours of direct client contact.
Experience must be accrued over a period of at least 24 months. The LAC must receive at least 100 hours of clinical supervision.
Arizona requires two types of background check: a criminal background check and a self-query of the National Practitioner Data Base.
Prospective licensees may call the Board at 602-542-1882 to request fingerprint cards. They will include completed fingerprint cards in their application packets (along with a $40 background check processing fee). An applicant who holds a DPS clearance card can submit a copy of the card in lieu of the fingerprint card and fee.
The self-query request can be made online through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) website (www.npdb.hrsa.gov). It is to be submitted in its original sealed envelope. An $8 fee will be assessed; this is paid at the time the request is made. A prospective licensee who does not have internet may call customer service at 800-767-6732.
Applications are available for download from the Board website (http://azbbhe.us/node/25). The applicant must fill out both a general application and a counseling supplement. Primary source documents are to be included in sealed envelopes.
The Board will require official transcripts. Graduates of programs not accredited by CACREP or CORE will document course content and provide course descriptions.
Candidate will also need primary source verification of practicum and pre-practicum experiences. Those applying at the LPC level will verify supervised practice.
The Board will require verification of all state-level professional licenses that the applicant has held, whether issued in Arizona or another jurisdiction. Licenses issued by the Arizona Behavioral Health Board constitute an exception.
The application packet includes a certifying statement that requires notarization. There is a nonrefundable $250 application fee.
Arizona has provisions in place for experienced out-of-state counselors who may not be able to apply through the standard pathway. A counselor who passed an examination and met another state’s education and practice requirements may be granted a reciprocal license if he or she has been licensed for at least five years and practiced for at least 6,000 hours. After 1,600 hours of supervised practice in Arizona, the counselor may be eligible for a regular license.
The Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners (http://www.azbbhe.us/) can be reached at 602-542-1882. Proposed rules are found under the “laws and rules” tab of the Board website.
The Arizona Counselors Association is an additional professional resource (http://azca.jibesites.com).