A State by State Counselor Guide

Rehabilitation Counselor Requirements in District of Columbia: What steps to take to become a Rehabilitation Counselor in DC

DC rehabilitation counselors may be eligible for multiple credentials, including professional counseling licensing through the Department of Health and rehabilitation counseling certification through the Commission on Rehabilitation Counselor Certification (CCRC). Both credentials require graduate education and examination.

The DC counseling license is generalist. There are two levels of licensure; the higher requires supervised experience.

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Educational Standards for Rehabilitation Counselor Licensure and Certification

Educational Requirements for State Licensing: A prospective licensee must earn a degree at at least the master's level. The degree-granting institution must be accredited by some agency recognized by the United States Department of Education Council on Postsecondary Accreditation.

There must be practicum or internship. Additionally, the program must include the following content:

  • Human growth and development
  • Theory and practice of counseling
  • Group counseling
  • Lifestyle and career development
  • Etiology of mental disorders and dysfunctional behavior/ diagnosis, treatment planning, and prevention
  • Assessment and appraisal
  • Marriage and family counseling
  • Social and cultural foundations
  • Professional orientation and ethics
  • Research and program evaluation

The licensing agency notes that it is not necessary for each content area to be represented by one discrete course. Other subjects may be covered. Courses will be accepted if they are part of a professional counseling program. Courses not taken as part of a counseling program can be accepted if the subject matter is judged to be appropriate. Rehabilitation counseling is among the approved subject areas. Human services, behavioral sciences, creative arts therapy, and student counseling and personnel services are among the options; a full list is found in DC municipal regulations.

A graduate can be eligible for licensure as a Licensed Graduate Professional Counselor (LGPC) after completing a 48 semester hour program (http://doh.dc.gov/node/956672). To be eligible for licensure at the professional level, a student must complete at least 60 post-baccalaureate semester hours.

Foreign education can be accepted if a professional evaluation agency determines that it is equivalent.

Educational Requirements for Certification: Although licensure is not dependent on completion of a master’s program accredited by the Council on Rehabilitation Education (CORE), the accreditation will facilitate third party certification. Rehabilitation counseling programs will include at least 48 semester hours of coursework. A student who wishes to take the CRC should enroll in a program that includes at least a 600 hour internship. A student who enrolls in a program at the doctoral level will need a 600 hour rehabilitation counseling internship (unless he or she has applicable work experience); at the doctoral level, though, the program itself may be ‘counseling’ or ‘rehabilitation counseling’.

Master’s level rehabilitation counselors can eventually pursue certification even if their programs were not CORE-accredited. However, they will need to document relevant experience.

Supervised Experience for Licensure

Professional licensure is dependent on accruing 3,500 hours of supervised experience. The experience is to be accrued over a period of two to five years; the licensing agency will consider extending the time limit beyond five years when there is good cause. If the graduate counselor is in a position where he or she provides general counseling services, all work hours can be credited.

At least 200 hours must be spent under the immediate supervision of a qualified professional. Of these, 100 must be under the supervision of a professional counselor.

Individuals may credit hours accrued after they completed their first counseling-related graduate degree. They may simultaneously gain work experience and further their education.

Examination Requirements: CRC and NCE

DC has approved multiple examinations for counseling licensure, among them, the Certified Rehabilitation Counselor Examination, or CRC. The CRC examination is a requirement for national certification as a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. A student who is enrolled in a CORE-accredited rehabilitation counseling program with a 600 hour internship can be approved to test before graduation. He or she will need to have completed at least 75% of the requirements. There are three annual testing windows; application materials must be in several months in advance. Candidate handbooks are available from the CRCC.

An individual who submits an application form for counseling licensure without having passed an acceptable examination will receive a registration form for the National Counselor Examination (NCE). The NCE is a generalist licensing examination administered by the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC). Registration information can be found on the ‘District of Columbia’ page of the NBCC website (http://www.nbcc.org/stateboardmap//DC).

A candidate who fails an NCE attempt will need to submit a re-examination application to the DC Department of Health. The DOH will assess an $85 fee. This is in addition to the examination fee assessed by the NBCC.

An applicant who has passed the CRC or other acceptable examination will not be required to take the NCE.

Background Check Requirement

The District of Columbia requires licensees to undergo fingerprint-based background checks. Prospective licensees may visit the Metropolitan Police Department or utilize the approved vendor, Identogo by MorphoTrust (formerly L-1).

Identogo uses a LiveScan fingerprinting process. There are authorized locations in DC, Maryland, and Virginia (http://www.l1enrollment.com/locations/?st=dc). Individuals can schedule online or call (877) 783-4187. Those who live out of area can have their fingerprints made on standard FBI cards and then scanned by MorphoTrust. Individuals who opt for hard cards will also need to register with MorphoTrust before submission. They should select "card scan instructions" from the forms and links section; the linked document includes directions for registering and filling out the fingerprint card.

The License Application Process

The Department of Health utilizes an online application/ licensing system. An applicant may instead request a paper application; the request can be made by email (http://doh.dc.gov/node/160062).

The applicant must request official transcripts; these may be mailed directly from the issuing institution or included in the application package in a sealed envelope.

The supervisor will verify experience, evaluate performance, and return the form to the applicant in a sealed envelope.

The applicant will need two passport photos.

The combined application/ licensure fee is $230.

An endorsement candidate will provide license verification along with other required materials.

Applicants are invited to call with questions they may have about the process.

Additional Information

Information about professional counselor licensing is available from the Department of Health (http://doh.dc.gov/service/professional-counseling-licensing). The licensing agency can be reached by telephone at (877) 672-2174.