Arkansas rehabilitation counselors are licensed by the Arkansas Board of Examiners in Counseling. Although the Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) license is generic, rehabilitation counseling is state-recognized as a counseling specialty. In order to earn the specialty designation, the counselor must meet general LPC requirements and also meet specialty requirements set by a third party organization, the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CCRC). An Arkansas counselor will have a statement of intent that describes his or her scope of practice.
An in-state candidate will be eligible for a Licensed Associate Counselor (LAC) license before an LPC license. Arkansas counselors hold licensing unless they fall under exemption categories outlined in state rule.
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To earn an LAC or LPC license, a student will need to earn a graduate degree through a regionally accredited institution; he or she will also need to meet Arkansas coursework requirements. Arkansas has adopted the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) standards. The Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE) is among the accrediting agencies that can be accepted as having "parallel" standards.
CORE accreditation is instrumental in earning the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC) credential; an individual who completes a master's program that is not CORE-accredited will need rehabilitation experience before he or she can be approved to take the examination. Prospective students can locate CORE-accredited programs through an online directory (http://www.core-rehab.org/AccreditedPrograms).
Arkansas requires 60 semester hours of graduate coursework. The student must have three credit hours in each of the following:
The student will need a total of nine semester hours of internship and/or practicum experiences.
The Board has provided detailed descriptions of expected course content, drawn from CACREP 2001 standards; content descriptions can be found in the course requirements section of application materials.
Students must earn grades of at least 'B' in their license qualifying coursework.
Internationally educated candidates may be found eligible after a professional credential evaluation. They are directed to contact the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services for a list of evaluation services.
Prospective Arkansas rehabilitation counselors pass a series of examinations. Two are taken en route to professional licensing; an additional examination is required for the specialty designation.
The National Counselor Examination (NCE) is required for licensure. It is administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). A candidate may be permitted to test as early as his or her final term. An approved candidate will submit a $195 fee. Examinations are administered at Pearson VUE testing sites. Arkansas has three sites: in Fort Smith, Little Rock, and Texarkansas. However, candidates are permitted to test in other states. The NCE is available two weeks out of each month. Registration and scheduling information can be found on the Arkansas page of the NBCC website (http://www.nbcc.org/stateboardmap//AR). The NBCC will provide examination results to the Arkansas Board.
A student in a CORE-accredited program can also be approved to take the CRC examination before graduation. There are three testing windows a year; applications must be submitted approximately five months in advance (http://www.crccertification.com/pages/crc_exam_schedule/83.php). Certification now costs $385.
Oral examination typically constitutes the last step of the license application process. At the oral examination, the examiners will review the statement of intent and ask questions about the counseling profession and about the applicant’s credentials. If competency is questioned, the Board may require a situational examination.
A counselor must meet a supervised practice requirement before he or she can earn independent (LPC) licensing. A graduate with no qualifying education beyond the master's degree will need three years of supervision; a year includes 1,000 hours of client contact. The licensing agency may credit 30 semester hours as 1,000 hours of practice or one year. However, coursework will not be credited if it was required to qualify for Arkansas licensure.
The supervised experience is divided into three phases, each with different supervision requirements. Post-master education will be applied first toward Phase III requirements. All associate counselors must complete Phase I. Associate counselors in Phase I must have an hour of supervision for every ten client contact hours.
The LAC must be under the supervision of a Board-approved supervisor. The experience is governed by a supervision agreement on file with the Board. The associate is subject to six month reports. Supervision-related paperwork can be found on the Board website (http://abec.arkansas.gov/Supervision/Pages/default.aspx).
In most cases, LAC licensing is held for no more than six years.
Prospective counselors apply before examination. The licensing agency suggests that they submit applications early in the final semester. A student may be approved to take the NCE on the basis of a letter from the dean but will need to provide official transcripts later. The document “How to Apply” includes other tips for receiving a license promptly.
Applicants are invited to call or email if they have questions. A prospective counselor who is unsure of eligibility may request a transcript review for $25 (http://abec.arkansas.gov/Licensing/Pages/FeeSchedule.aspx).
Application materials may be downloaded from the Board website (http://abec.arkansas.gov/Licensing/Pages/default.aspx) or requested; there is a $20 fee to have them mailed (http://abec.arkansas.gov/Licensing/Pages/FeeSchedule.aspx).
The applicant must prepare a statement of intent. He or she will need three recommendations, two of them from mental health professionals.
The applicant must attest to having read the applicable statutes and regulations. He or she will attach a photograph to the application and have it notarized. A $200 fee is to be submitted with the application.
An applicant who applies for a specialization at the same time as licensure incurs no additional charge. A counselor who later applies for specialization pays a $50 fee.
An applicant can expect to receive materials for having a background check completed. The applicant may be granted a provisional licensure pending background check results. Applicants are asked to visit the rules and regulations section for instructions; they are found in Act 1317 of 1997 (http://abec.arkansas.gov/aboutUs/Pages/LawsRulesRegulations.aspx).
Out-of-state counselors must submit license verification from each state where they have held a credential.
If an out-of-state licensee was required to take the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examination (NCMHCE) as a condition of licensure, the Board may accept it in place of the NCE. The Board has the authority to determine that other examinations are equivalent.
The Arkansas Board of Examiners (http://abec.arkansas.gov/) can be reached at (501) 683-5800. Additional contact information can be found online (http://abec.arkansas.gov/contactUs/Pages/default.aspx). Individuals can visit the website for regulation and policy updates.
Additional professional resources include the Arkansas Rehabilitation Association (http://www.arrehabassociation.org) and the Arkansas Chapter of the Rehabilitation Counselors and Educators Association (http://rehabcea.org/chapter/arkansas-chapter).